Check up | Removng female facial hair

October 20, 2015

Dear Readers,

Debra, 28, works with a Kingston law firm. She is a bit overweight but her main concern is the presence of unwanted facial hair - almost like a beard - which undermines her self-esteem. She feels that no man finds it attractive. Even when shaved, the skin at her jaw doesn't look feminine. She also has hairy legs.

Debra's hairy condition is a fairly common occurrence in women. Most females learn to live with it by utilising various methods. Excessive hair growth in women is called hirsutism. The condition usually develops after puberty and becomes more pronounced as they get older.

An inherited tendency or over-production of male hormones can cause hirsutism to occur at any age. Women with hirsutism often have irregular menstrual cycles and usually have towards small breasts, exaggerated genetalia, sometimes deeper voices, and a more muscular look.

A hairy look, when hereditary is associated with no additional symptoms, but when hirsutism occurs as a secondary disorder, then it is necessary to discover the cause.

Secondary hirsutism is most often associated with polycystic ovarian disease, a hormonal disorder characterised by irregular menses, hormonal abnormalities, acne, insulin resistance and obesity.

Malfunctions of the pituitary or adrenal glands, the use of male hormones, taking minoxidil orally, or the development of ovarian tumours can all precipitate hirsutism.

Hormonal imbalance during menopause can also lead to hairiness but in a significant number of cases, the cause of hirsutism is never identified. There are many suggested treatments:

- Cosmetic

- Medical

- Psychological


Hairiness can be treated cosmetically by removing the unwanted hair. This removal is usually achieved by:

- Cutting

- Electrolysis

- Shaving

- Tweezing

- Waxing

- Hair removing creams


Birth control pills or medications which suppress male hormones (e.g. spironolactone) can be prescribed for patients with high male androgen levels. However, treatment ultimately will depend on the underlying cause.

The use of the birth control pill stabilises 50 per cent of patients with an underlying cause and lessens hairiness in at least one in 10 women.

With electrolysis, electricity is applied at the root of each individual hair to permanently destroy it. This is a permanent solution and takes time, as only a small area can be worked on.

Multiple treatments are required and if the person performing the procedure is unskilled, scarring can occur.

Laser treatment is also available and is best used on women with dark facial hair.

Laser sends energy through the hair shaft to the hair follicle to destroy the hair root. It also requires several treatments.


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