Unwanted Hair On Face

Women And Hair:

Though recent decades have seen many changes in our concepts of masculinity and femininity, one thing has not changed: women still are not supposed to have hair on their face or body. That this is not biologically accurate – most women do have at least some extra hair somewhere – has not changed fashion. Indeed our society seems to have grown more “trichophobic” – phobic about body hair. Even pubic hair is now often shaved or waxed. This dislike of hair is not confined to women — more and more men are opting to have chest or back hair removed. In the past, ideals of beauty were more realistic. In ancient India, a band of hair in the middle of a woman’s chest was considered a sign of great beauty. That body hair was more accepted in earlier times does not help much now since we have to be comfortable in the culture in which we find ourselves.

Treatments For Increased Hair:

There are basically three approaches: .self-removal at home, .use of electrolysis .laser and prescription medication.

“Home removal” All sorts of methods are in use, but the most common one, tweezing, is the worst — because it pulls the hair out by the root, which injures the skin. Done for a long time it can give a bumpy look to the skin over the jaw. Snipping with a scissors is better than plucking though it does not last as long. Bleaches and depilatories are OK too; but with depilatories, be sure not to leave them on longer than the instructions say otherwise there can be considerable irritation. A razor is an effective way to remove hair but many women understandably do not like to use one. Despite widespread belief to the contrary, removing hair by a razor or other means does not make it grow in faster or darker.

“Electrolysis” is a well-established method which is permanent. Continuing treatment is often needed for women with substantial hair growth because new follicles become active. I particularly familiar with this method because I have been an advisor to one of the major electrolysis organizations. To get a good result, electrolysis needs to be done by a skilled professional using proper equipment. A good place to start is the Worldwide Registry of Professional Electrologists WROPE or the directories of two national professional associations: The International Guild of Professional Electrologists, Inc. and American Electrolysis Association. Many electrologists are highly committed to their profession and have an excellent understanding of the problems of women with increased hair growth.

“Laser” has been heavily promoted. It is said to offer “permanent hair reduction” though how much the hair is actually reduced in the long term is difficult to tell. Current laser technology is not suitable for those with very light or very dark skin. Some get pigmentary changes from it. Long term studies are lacking so that it is hard to tell how happy people will be with the results later on.

What Causes Increased Hair:

With only the rarest of exceptions, facial and body hair are due to the action of androgens, the family of hormones that includes testosterone. Though androgens are loosely called “male hormones,” this is misleading. All adult males and females have biologically active levels of testosterone in their blood. The levels in men are about 10 times higher than the levels in women. In childhood, androgen levels are unmeasurably low in both boys and girls.

At puberty testosterone levels begin to rise in both sexes, but of course much more sharply in boys. Some of the normal events produced by androgens at puberty are: the appearance of pubic and underarm hair, increased oiliness of the face and darkening of the genital skin. In males, androgens stimulate sexual feelings, but their role in this regard is far less clear in women.

As androgen levels increase, more areas of the skin start to respond by showing hair growth. The genital area is most sensitive, followed by the underarms, chin, middle of the upper lip, around the edge of the nipples and the midline of the abdomen. Many women have some hair in these latter four locations and in small amounts it is certainly not abnormal. For a few the amounts are greater, and embarrassment and self-consciousness result.

Medical Terms for Extra Hair:

Hirsutism refers to increased hair in the so-called sexual distribution. Sexual distribution simply means skin areas on which men and women have different amounts of hair. Hair growth on these areas is due to the effect of testosterone on the hair follicle. As I have just mentioned, hirsutism can affect chin, upper lip, sideburn area, neck, chest, abdomen and pubic region as well as upper thighs.

Hypertrichosis refers to extra hair on other areas and which is not caused by testosterone. Areas which can be affected by hypertrichosis include the forehead, upper cheeks or, in the case of prepubertal children, anywhere on the body. Hair on the forearms and lower legs can be hormonal or non-hormonal. More than mild hypertrichosis is uncommon. Certain infrequently used drugs can cause it, for example, cyclosporin, used to prevent transplant rejection.

The dark, stiff opaque hairs found with hirsutism are called terminal hairs. Very light, fine hairs which are barely visible are termed vellus. With testosterone stimulation vellus hairs develop into terminal ones. Sometimes the vellus hairs start to become more noticeable but are still fine – a situation colloquially referred to as “peach fuzz.” This sort of hair can appear at or after menopause.

Almost all women concerned about increased hair growth have hirsutism, not hypertrichosis.

Hope For Women With Unwanted Hair:

If you have increased facial or body hair, I’m sure you have heard a lot of discouraging messages. Ignore them. Whatever you have been told, it is possible to find out what is causing unwanted hair growth and to get effective treatment. Treatment will not necessarily remove every unwanted hair but can reduce it considerably, making removal less of a burden and reducing insecurity that others will discover the secret.

Is there any other drug I can take to get rid of excess hair on face and body? If excess hairiness is a problem at your age I would suggest an opinion from a consultant dermatologist to see what can be done to help you.

Before that however, discuss with your doctor the possibility of testing you for a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which causes excess hairiness as well as weight gain and period problems.

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