The growth of facial hair has become a very common problem in middle aged women, who mostly use temporary methods like threading, bleaching or waxing to get rid of the problem.
‘Hirsutism’ is a condition in which women have excessive facial and body hair growth which is dark and coarse.
In an exclusive interview with ‘The News,’ Dr. Armeela Javaid, a dermatologist who deals with this problem on daily basis, said that it could be very concerning for a woman, making her feel less confident and unfeminine. “The facial hair growth is not restricted to Pakistan only but all over the world. Recent research has shown that over 22% of women in the US and Europe seek help to get rid of the excessive hair growth,” she added.
She said that excessive facial hair growth is a cosmetic issue, as it is distressing for any female to grow a beard or have coarse thick hair on the face or body. But it should be kept it mind that there are several medical factors playing role behind this skin condition, which is considered as a mere cosmetic problem. Excessive hair growth may range from a few thick and coarse dark hair on the chin, jaw line, upper lip, cheeks or chest to a fully grown beard.
Dr. Armeela Javaid said that most women do not see a dermatologist in the initial phase of the problem. In fact, they manage it at home by getting the hair plucked or waxed. Others become regular salon visitors to get rid of the excessive hair. It is of utmost importance that the female who suffers from a sudden excessive hair growth should seek a dermatologist’s opinion. Most cases of ‘Hirsutism’ are not severe and have no underlying cause. Genetics and racia predisposition play their part in ‘Hirsutism’.
However sometimes there is a more serious underlying condition. About 30% of women with ‘Hirsutism’ may have high levels of male sex hormones called androgen. There are some serious diseases associated with excessive hair growth such as Polycystic Ovaries and Cushing’s syndrome. Therefore excessive hair growth is a symptom rather than a disease itself. It could be an alarm sign for an underlying medical disease. So it should always be considered more than just a cosmetic problem and the patient should be thoroughly examined and investigated.
Here is the guideline as to when one should hurry in seeking medical advice while suffering from excessive hair growth when there is an irregular menstrual cycle, weight gain, acne, extremely oily skin, thinning of scalp hair, increased muscle mass, deepening of voice, loss of feminine body shape, obesity, glucose intolerance or diabetes or high blood pressure.
The dermatologist was of the view that the treatment depends upon the underlying disease causing excessive hair growth. There could be requirement of hormone therapy in some cases, where these medicines counter the effect of male hormones. A routine visit to a qualified dermatologist for the treatment of ‘’Hirsutism includes a medical history in which you are asked about the menstrual cycles, any medicines you have been taking or applying on your face and your family history. Your doctor will check you for excessive hair growth and also may do a pelvic examination if required, to check for tumours or cysts on the ovaries.
“There are many medicines available as creams that inhibit the growth of a hair follicle. These creams can be used to reduce the hair growth and take almost 8 weeks to show results. Laser hair reduction is the most effective and long lasting way of getting rid of excessive hair,” Dr Armeela added.
She said that the duration of treatment of excessive hair on the face and body is long. It tests one’s patience, but the treatment is effective and patients show improvement.