Home Endocrine system Hirsutism: treatment and causes

Hirsutism: treatment and causes

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

We know hirsutism is the condition that causes hair to grow excessively in areas of the body where it should not exist. Mainly, it is a condition that affects women, women who grow hair in a male pattern, for example, on the lips, sideburns, chin, areolas, chest, back, or thighs. But it is not a specifically female condition. It can also affect men, although it usually occurs to a lesser extent.

Of mostly genetic origin, this alteration in the growth of body hair is usually caused by an alteration in glands such as the pituitary or the adrenal glands, which causes excess production of steroids, providing masculine characteristics.

In the following FastlyHealarticle, we will talk about hirsutism: treatment and causes. You know how to diagnose its origin and consider the best solutions for your problem.

Table of Contents

Hirsutism: causes

Hirsutism is eminently a matter of heredity. There are families whose members are genetically more predisposed to suffer from this excess hair. Similarly, issues such as weight, metabolism, or ethnicity can play a role. For example, hirsutism is more common in Western ethnic groups than in Asian women.

Hirsutism usually manifests itself from adolescence, becoming worse as time passes. It is usual that as the person ages, hair growth is stimulated.

Generalizing, hirsutism is caused by increased production of androgenic steroids, but what leads to that happening? Here are some conditions and diseases that can cause hirsutism :

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: Many aspects of polycystic ovaries are still unknown. What is known is that it appears during puberty and causes a deficiency in the development of ovarian follicles. In turn, this causes anovulation and excessive androgen production.
  • Idiopathic hirsutism: is caused by a greater sensitivity of the dermis to androgens and a genetic cause causes the number of hair follicles to be much higher than average. It also appears during puberty, but unlike other cases of hirsutism, it does not cause changes or alterations in menstruation, fertility, or hormones.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: it is a genetic alteration of the adrenal glands. Hormones such as cortisol or sex hormones are created and secreted in these glands. In people with this disorder, what happens is that not enough aldosterone or cortisol is produced, and, on the contrary, excess androgen is secreted, which causes masculine characteristics.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism can also cause hirsutism. The reason is that this alteration of the thyroid gland decreases the amount of testosterone transporting proteins in the body. This mismatch causes testosterone to rise, manifesting androgynous traits.
  • Cushing syndrome: is a hormonal disorder caused by repeated exposure over time to high cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, but it may also come through medication to treat inflammatory problems. Some tumors can also cause a rise in cortisol.
  • Medication intake: such as testosterone, steroids, glucocorticoids, or danazol.

Hirsutism: symptoms

Hirsutism is caused by an increase in hormones that mark the androgenic characteristics so that this elevation can act in different tissues of the body. These changes in the body cause the following symptoms :

  • Acne.
  • Increased sebum in the hair.
  • Alterations in menstruation, amenorrhea or absence thereof may also occur.
  • Alopecia or hair loss with patterns similar to those of men.

Although less common, other symptoms that hirsutism can cause are:

  • The deeper tone of voice.
  • Excessive muscle development.
  • Clitoral hypertrophy.
  • Defeminization, for example, involution of breast development.
  • In girls, there is intellectual growth, but it is also the epiphyseal closure reason why the stature is finally short.

Diagnosis of hirsutism

Mainly, there are four fundamental measures that the doctor must take into account to diagnose hirsutism:

  • First, it is convenient to review the patient’s clinical history to detail the appearance and development of the alterations. For example, it is essential to know the date on which the hair began to grow when the acne appeared or the moment at which the hair started to fall. In the same way, it is convenient to know how it has evolved, for example, if the menstruation has been regular or in which periods it has disappeared.
  • Do a thorough physical examination, paying particular attention to the amount, thickness, length, and location of body hair.
  • After the investigation, if adrenal hyperplasia is suspected, a Synacthen test should be done, an examination of stimulation of the glands that serve to determine how well they are working.

Hirsutism: treatment

Different physical measures of a more cosmetic or aesthetic nature can be used to hide the symptoms of this alteration. Although these will not prevent or treat the leading cause or root of the disease, in some cases where drug treatment is not feasible, it can be an excellent way to treat the symptoms of hirsutism:

  • Electrolysis: utilizing an electric current, the hair follicles are permanently eliminated, so the hair does not grow back. However, this method is quite expensive, and depending on which cases, it can cause scarring, inflammation, and redness of the dermis.
  • Laser hair removal: You can remove those hairs darkened by melanin using this method. The problem is that it is not helpful for blonde or red hair.
  • Shaving: This is a temporary measure, but it can cause hair to grow thicker and thicker.
  • Waxing: either with chemicals or wax, waxing is safe and inexpensive, but depending on the skin, it can cause irritation.

Ideally, where possible, combine these more aesthetic measures with a drug treatment to treat the underlying disease that is causing the hirsutism. However, before starting treatment, some health and lifestyle changes are necessary to improve symptoms. Losing weight and shedding excess fat are essential to reduce factors that increase hirsutism. Once achieved, different treatments can be started:

  • In the case of adrenal hyperplasia, treatment with corticosteroids can be started.
  • If it is a tumor that produces androgens, it must be removed.
  • When there is Cushing syndrome, it is necessary to start a specific treatment for that disease.
  • The drug treatment for hirsutism often is based on drugs such as drug pills and anti-androgen drugs, depending on what causes it is causing. This should last at least a year since it is not until six months when the first physical changes begin to be noticed. In turn, they also have an anovulatory effect, so infertility cannot be treated in this way.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Hirsutism: treatment and causes, we recommend that you enter our Endocrine System category.

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