Discussion of hirsutism, its causes and medication

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Hirsutism
Introduction
Hirsutism is a term used for women who report excess hair on body parts, such as the face, arms and chest. The condition of hirsutism has been linked to certain endocrinal disorders that lead to excessively high androgen levels. As a result the hair follicles become hypersensitive to normal androgen levels.

Hair growth in women depends on several factors, including the region they come from. Women from certain regions tend to be more hairy than those from others. We talk of hirsutism only when this growth is so excessive that it becomes conspicuous and embarrassing for the hirsute person.

Treatment is considered once the clear etiology of the disorder has been established. Women suffering from hirsutism have dark, thick hair on the face, chest, abdomen and back.

Causes of hirsutism
While there are many causes of hirsutism, the increased level of androgens in the body is undoubtedly the most important one. The condition of hirsutism has also been linked to oversensitivity of the hair follicles to androgens. The male hormones stimulate hair growth and intensify its pigmentation. High levels of male hormones also cause acne, irregular menstrual periods and deepening of the voice. Such traits, being hereditory, normally run in families.

The high insulin level in women is another cause of hirsutism. The lower the insulin level, the lesser is the chance of a woman suffering from hirsutism. Obese women are more likely to be plagued by this problem. It has been found out that insulin in high concentrations stimulates the ovarian cells to produce androgens.

When male hormones in a woman start to proliferate it is clear that she is suffering from one of the following disorders: polycystic ovary syndrome, cushing's disease and ovarian, congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Some medications like birth control pills, hormones and anabolic steroids can also push up the level of male hormones in women.

Treatment of hirsutism
Hirsutism is self-evidently a most embarrassing condition for a woman to find herself in. But rather than experiment with the various methods of hair removal on offer, all of which have their special merits and drawbacks, it is safer to consult a qualified doctor. S/he would tell you precisely what is responsible for hirsutism in your case, and suggest a suitable hair removal route along with medication.

Anti-androgens are normally used to stop production of the male hormones in women that cause hirsutism. The treatment usually takes from three to six months to work. However, while medication can prevent new hair from growing it can't do much about existing hair.

A prescription cream that slows down the growth of facial hair takes four to eight weeks to have some effect. Popping 50-200 mg of spironolactone daily also retards hair growth. But it has side effects, including tenderness in the breasts and irregular menstrual bleeding. Cyproterone is another drug that is used to treat hirsutism. Administered along with oral contraceptive pills, the drug's side effects include weight gain, depression and loss of libido.

Hair-removal methods
Of the several methods of removing unwanted hair from body parts only some are effective for patients suffering from hirsutism. Shaving is a common and safe method of hair removal and works well as a solution for the hirsute. Chemical depilatories are also a popular method of getting rid of unwanted hair, but there are skin types that do not accept them. Apply a small amount of cream to start with to test your skin sensitivity level.

Waxing and bleaching too can cause skin irritations, so be sure you follow the directions given on the label.

The electrolysis route is a popular and long-lasting one. In it you run a small current through the hair follicle to disable it. But it is an expensive and time consuming method that removes one hair strand at a time. In contrast, laser hair removal is a highly convenient, long lasting and popular method of hair removal, especially among the hirsute who must combine long-term medication with short-term remedies.
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