Female Facial Hair (Hirsutism)

Excessive hair can cause a degree of emotional distress and embarrassment for any woman. However, it is actually quite common, with estimated one in ten women having ‘hirsutism’ and is usually related to a hormonal imbalance, for example due to conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Female Facial Hair (Hirsutism)
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What is Hirsutism and how is it caused?

Having excessive body or facial hair may be a taboo subject for some women that they prefer not to discuss or try to remedy with quiet bleaching sessions at home, but it doesn’t need to be something kept quiet and is certainly treatable.

Hormones are one of the major causes of facial hair in women. If a woman has a slight hormone imbalance – for example more testosterone than normal – it can lead to excessive hair.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects between 8% and 20% of women worldwide and can be responsible for these elevated levels of male hormones, so it may be worth speaking to your own doctor if you begin to see more facial hair growth.

In addition, female facial hair can also be genetic, or brought on by the menopause. Most women get more hair on their face and body as they get older and reach the menopause and experience hormonal changes. However, with hirsutism, previously thin and unseen hair could turn much thicker and coarse.

This is often caused by an increase in hormones called androgens, your body being more sensitive to them, or both.

Treatment for Hirsutism

Your GP could suggest one or more ways to treat hirsutism. Losing weight may help with controlling hormone levels if you are overweight. Contraceptive pills also work to control hormone levels and could work to reduce excessive facial and body hair.

Prescription-only cream such as Vaniqa (Eflornithine 11.5%) may also be beneficial. The cream gets to work within the hair follicle, reducing female facial hair. Vaniqa is not a hair removal cream but works during the growth stage of the hair cycle by interfering with an enzyme in the follicle necessary for hair to grow. This results in slower growth and improved appearance where Vaniqa is applied.

In addition, some women may prefer to try simple home-remedies such as bleaching the hair, shaving, waxing, plucking, or using over-the-counter hair removal creams.

Your GP may refer you to a specialist if there has been no improvement with hirsutism treatments after 6 months or suggest other medicines to target hormone levels.

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