All women have peach fuzz – thin, fine hair that covers the body. But coarse dark hair in places where you’d expect them on men, are linked to a condition called hirsutism. Why does it happen?
War on body hair is a way of life for many women (in some cultures, at least). Whatever your feelings about this, fur in the wrong places make some women feel self-conscious or even worried about their health.
The fact is hirsutism, like so many of your features, could be in your genes. It runs in families and is more common in people from the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean.
There are other possible causes, though. A woman’s body also produces androgens, or male hormones, which have no effect when the levels are in their correct proportions. If they are too high, they can cause hirsutism and things like acne, a deep voice or small breasts.
Skin problems like eczema or psoriasis are caused by inflammation, which increases blood flow to the areas and speeds up hair growth.
People suffering from anorexia will have lanugo hair. This is too much of a fine down covering the whole body and we don’t know yet why it happens.
Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation in the body and to treat conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. They contain a synthetic version of the hormone cortisol. During treatment, which usually runs from four to six months, the cortisol can build up in the body and lead to Cushing’s syndrome. The symptoms of this condition include weight gain, a red, puffy face and excess hair growth.
During menopause your oestrogen level goes down and the “male” hormone testosterone can become more dominant. That can lead to typically male problems like male pattern baldness, facial hair and acne. Hormone replacement therapy with synthetic hormones for menopause can also trigger excess hair.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the reason for up to three in four cases of hirsutism. The cysts are little sacs of fluid forming on the ovaries and most are benign. If you’ve been having irregular or skipped periods and coarser hair has appeared on your face or body in the past six months, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. The main reason would be that it can affect your fertility.
A combination of birth control pills may help shrink ovarian cysts from PCOS and reduce excess hair.
Apart from the usual options like shaving, waxing plucking, you could have the hair removed by electrolysis or laser treatments. If the problem is hormonal, there are anti-androgens and creams that can help. Obesity can change the way your body produces and processes hormones, so losing weight will make a difference.
To find out more about hair growth and hair removal, visit Skin Renewal at www.skinrenewal.co.za