Excessive facial hair can be an annoying problem. However, this issue is very common and can be managed safely in most individuals.
Each individual hair grows out of a tiny pit in the skin called a follicle. Deep within the follicle, at the hair bulb, live cells are responsive to androgens (male sex hormones). When androgens, such as testosterone, reach the hair bulb, cells begin to replicate, causing the growth of hair. Although these hormones are much more abundant in men, women also have significant amounts of androgens.
When a woman has abnormally high levels of androgens, hair may begin to grow in areas where women don’t normally have hair. Additionally, having hair follicles that are overly sensitive to androgens may also trigger similar growth patterns.
A more serious hair growth condition is called Hirsutism. Although it can be genetic, it can be triggered by various health conditions such as PCOS, which we discussed in a previous post, certain medications, tumors and Cushing’s Syndrome.
For women, excess hair growth can be quite distressing, emotionally speaking. It is important to know that you are not alone. Nearly 39% of post-menopausal women experience excess facial hair growth, particularly around the chin. Women all around us are fighting these issues and we need to lean on each other for advice and comfort. There are several ways to combat challenges like these and one step is to visit a trusted primary care provider who can run tests to check your hormone levels. They may prescribe an androgen blocking medication or a referral to an endocrinologist may be given when hormone levels are significantly off balance. Your provider may also recommend a dermatologist for laser hair removal.
A less expensive route would be to remove the excess hair at home by shaving, tweezing or waxing.