Unwanted hair growth can be embarrassing. Plus the time and money spent on waxing and shaving to keep skin smooth is seriously daunting. More than 50% of our clients seek permanent hair removal solutions because of unwanted hair growth on unsightly areas or because of ingrown hairs and scarring caused by other removal methods like shaving, waxing and tweezing. In order to provide an optimal transformation we need get to the bottom of the cause. In some cases, hirsutism, the medical term for excessive hair growth in women, is the problem. Let’s uncover what’s behind this condition that frustrates a lot of our Vancouver laser hair removal clients.
What is Hirsutism?
Like we mentioned above, hirsutism is the technical term for excessive hairiness in women. It often appears as dark, visible and abundant hair growth in a male-type pattern. The hairs tend to crop up on the face, chest, abdomen, treasure trail, inner-thighs and back. If you’re distressed about it, don’t be because it’s very common!
What Causes Hirsutism?
Women develop excessive body or facial hair due to higher-than-normal levels of male hormones, which are called androgens and include testosterone. All females produce androgens but the levels are typically low. Certain medical conditions can cause women to produce too many androgens, thus leading to this male-pattern hair growth. This can also be the cause of moderate to severe acne as well. Some other causes of hirsutism are:
- Heredity: Hirsutism runs in some families and isn’t associated with an excess of androgens. Therefore, you may be more likely to have unwanted hair growth if your mother, sister or another female relatives has it. It’s also more prevalent in some families with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern ancestry.
- Ethnicity: Some ethnicities have naturally higher levels of androgens. Women of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, Indian and African American ancestry tend to be more prone to hirsutism.
- Hormonal Fluctuations: Puberty, pregnancy and menopause are all responsible for fluctuations in hormone levels (hey, mood swings and cravings!). Hair can sprout up in areas where it didn’t exist before. In the case of pregnancy, excess hair growth tends to stop when the bundle of joy is delivered. In the cases of puberty and menopause, hair growth can be controlled once the problem is addressed with hormone therapy.
- Certain Medications: Some medications are linked with hirsutism. So if you start taking a medication and notice your hair growth is getting out of control, it may be worth asking your doctor if it could be the cause.
- Other Factors: Stress or a super active lifestyle can sometimes lead to more hair. High levels of cortisol, which is often called the stress hormone, might be to blame.
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If you’re bothered by excessive hair growth, you should see a doctor. There’s no need to suffer in silence. Your doctor can order blood tests to measure your hormone levels and help narrow down the cause. In some cases, medication like oral contraceptives or anti-androgens are prescribed. Other options for treatment include:
- Hair Removal: Hair removal techniques are a natural, drug-free way to manage excessive or unwanted hair. There are the typical hair removal methods that many women use to keep their legs, bikini area and underarms smooth, like shaving, waxing and tweezing. If you suffer from hirsutism, you’ll need to be more proactive about it. Or, you can try a more permanent route with laser hair removal and electrolysis, which are both effective ways to eliminate coarse, unwanted hair in the long-term. Laser hair removal involves using concentrated light rays to damage your hair follicles without affecting the surrounding skin. Damaged follicles can’t produce new hair and the existing hair falls out. Since large areas can be treated, it requires far fewer visits (and a lot less pain) than electrolysis. Electrolysis is the removal of hair using an electric current. It’s an older technique but highly effective on gray hairs. It’s extremely tedious and we don’t recommend it for large areas. Nevertheless, both laser hair removal and electrolysis are more efficient than waxing, tweezing or shaving primarily because they slow down hair growth substantially. Instead of requiring hair removal daily or weekly, you’d only need laser hair removal sessions between once a month to once every three months.
- Prescription Cream: Eflornithine HCL Cream, 13,9% (Vaniqa) is a cream that is applied to the skin on the face to thwart hair growth at the root level by blocking a certain hormone. Studies demonstrate that approximately 58 percent of women who use it are less bothered by the facial hair on the lip and under the chin. Though Vaniqa is the only prescription cream proven to reduce the growth of facial hair in women, it doesn’t actually stop the growth. Women using Vaniqa will still need to use an additional hair removal method, albeit less often due to the slowed growth. Dermatologists sometimes suggest using Vaniqa along with laser hair removal. Although it’s generally well tolerated, some women find Vaniqa causes irritation and bumps.
Unfortunately, hirsutism is a long-term challenge. Fortunately, however, most women diagnosed with hormonal imbalances respond well to treatment, though the hair can grow back if your hormone levels become out of sync again. The condition makes women feel self-conscious and like they’re permanently attached to their razor and tweezers. Take back control! Many of the clients at our Vancouver laser clinic who suffer from hirsutism have experienced the benefits of laser hair removal both alone and in conjunction with other treatments. We suggest getting to the root of the problem so that effective and permanent hair removal can be a reality. At NuAGE Laser were well versed in successfully treating all skin and hair types with laser hair removal. Contact us for a free consultation and see how we can help.