Hirsutism is a condition which features thick, coarse, masculine pattern of hair growth observed in a woman. Hirsutism causes less or more amounts of thick and dark hair on woman’s face, chest area and back.
In most of the cases of Hirsutism, the causative factors are genetic makeup or abnormal secretion of male sex hormones i.e. androgens, mainly testosterone. The other less common causes are Polycystic Ovarian Disease, Cushing Syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia etc.
- Sudden or gradual appearance of Pimples
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Masculine body shape
- Broadened shoulders
- Deepening voice
- Baldness, loss of hair
- Enlarged clitoris
- Decreased breast size
- Genetics – Inherited from the family. It is especially true if associated with the congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia or Polycystic Ovarian Disease.
- Certain Races — Women who belong to the ethnic population from Europe, South Asia or Middle East are more vulnerable for Hirsutism.
- Certain Medications which accelerates the hair growth: minoxidil, phenytoin, cyclosporine, hexachlorobenzene, diazoxide etc.
- Polycystic Ovarian Disease
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Cushing Syndrome
- Use of steroids
- Danazol: A drug used in the treatment of endometriosis
- Your Physician will ask many questions like the family history of similar problems; Onset, duration, Progression of the Symptoms; Any medicines taken to fix hair problems; menstrual cycle history, medical history etc.
- The History is accompanied with physical examination to check the hair growth, pattern and texture. Certain tests are also ordered to know the level of various hormones.
The test for Hormones: It is done through blood testing. The hormones checked are:
- Male Sex Hormone:Testosterone, Androstenedione, Free androgen index, Dihydroxyepiandrosterone sulfate
- Female Sex Hormones: Oestradiol, 17-Hydroxy progesterone, Luteinizing hormone (LH), Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and Prolactin.
- Thyroid function, Cortisol, lipid profile
Radiological studies: Also the Doctor may ask to get done the following radiological studies.
- An ultrasound, which will help to find out the ovarian or adrenal gland tumors.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) scan for further studies of adrenal glands.
Hirsutism treatment s often comprises of various hair-removal methods and certain medications.
- Local application of certain medicated creams likeEflornithine and Eflornithine with a Physician’s advice.
- Hormone therapy:Estrogen and progestin pills
- Anti-androgens:g. spironolactone which is used to treat the problems related to the fluid retention in the body.
- Medical treatment of an underlying disorder like Cushing Syndrome, Adrenal tumor or Polycystic Ovarian Disease.
Treatment for Hair Removal
- Electrolysis: Removing hair by using an electrical equipment to destroythe follicle. It’s a permanent method of hair removal, but it is very painful. The side effects may include related skin pigmentation lightening and scarring (rare).
- Laser therapy:A highly concentrated laser beam is passed through the skin to destroy hair follicles. Some patients may need an additional laser work to permanently loose the unwanted hair. The side effects include occasional swelling, skin pigmentation and burns. Alternatively patient can also try various cosmetic treatments like bleaching, waxing, threading and so on.
Counseling and Patient education: It helps patient to understand the causes of the hirsutism and underlying disorder if any. Counseling is also necessary to answer all their questions about the duration, scope and usefulness of the treatment. Hirsutism may interrupt a woman’s social interactions because of her poor cosmetic appearance. Her concerns are cared and paid due attention. Use of Hormonal pills and related sterility, drug and treatment side effects, prenatal care etc. are well explained before starting any treatment.
Complications of Disease
- Limitation of a social interaction due to unwanted hair, associated cosmetic appearance and related problems
- Folliculitis while removing the unwanted hair