Causes & Symptoms
Hirsutism is a condition occurring in women, characterised by unwanted, male-pattern type hair growth that results in excess amounts of dark, coarse body hair in areas such as the chin and upper lip, around the nipples, abdomen and inner thighs. This condition affects 1 in 10 women.
Usually this skin condition has no underlying concern, however occasionally there can be an underlying medical condition. We recommend seeking professional help from a trained dermatologist to ensure correct diagnosis and treatment.
The most common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS symptoms are irregular periods, hirsutism, acne and mulitple cysts seen on an ultrasound scanning of the ovaries. Sometimes, a tumour can hide male-type hormones and can lead to hirsutism. This is most likely to be the case if the excess hair growth has occurred suddenly.
Treatment at The Skin Hospital
Diagnosis of hirsutism is by examination and usually will not require any other testing. In some cases the specialist may need to carry out blood tests to rule out an underlying medical problem or hormonal imbalance. If there is an underlying cause, then the doctor will focus on treating this first before starting the treatment of hirsutism. We highly recommend you book an appointment at The Skin Hospital to seek professional advice from a dermatologist in order to gain a full diagnosis of your situation.
Unfortunately there are no cures for this skin condition. However, there are ways to reduce hair growth and the appearance of excess hair. These are as follows:
- You can remove hair with various methods including shaving, waxing and the use of depilatory creams; bleaching may reduce the appearance of dark hairs.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL)/ broadband light (BBL) and laser therapies can be used to reduce unwanted hair in the nurse-led hair reduction clinic at Darlinghurst and Westmead. These therapies may not be appropriate for all skin types and may not be effective for those with fair hair.
- Eflornithine hydrochloride (Vaniqa) is a cream applied twice daily to the face after hair removal to minimize hair regrowth.
- “Anti-male hormone” types of the oral contraceptive pill can be tried. Other orals, such as spironolactone and finasteride can have a beneficial effect. These medications cannot be used during pregnancy and can have side effects.
If you would like further information on hirsutism the sites below provide more in-depth descriptions of hirsutism: