Normal body hair is naturally present in all people in certain areas of the body. However, thick hair or increased body hair becomes annoying if it is characterized by excessive hair growth.
What is excess hair (hirsutism)?
A lot of hair on the body is also hidden behind the terms hypertrichosis, hirsutism and virilization. The prefix hyper- designates an excess. A strong hair growth, which is hidden behind the term hypertrichosis, is characterized by the occurrence of denser hair growth and excessive hair growth on atypical parts of the body. Excessive hairiness is diagnosed when the hair appears on the chest, thighs and as unfeminine whiskers. For comprehensive guide to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (bse), please visit growtheology.com.
Excessive hairiness in male patients can be identified when there is excessive hair growth on the stomach and back, especially on the neck. Women with increased hair also suffer from increased hair growth on the upper lip (see lady’s beard ) and on the chin. Some women also have increased hair on their forearms and buttocks.
Only after the symptoms have been clearly clarified can the causal connections between increased hair growth and the actual triggers be concluded. Hypertrichosis has completely different causes than increased hair growth in hirsutism.
Hypertrichosis as increased hair growth occurs when those affected have locally limited, more or less thick body hair distributed over the entire body. This can be genetic and resemble male hair. Causes of increased hair are circulatory disorders, hereditary diseases, blood diseases, hormone-releasing tumors and various medications.
A special form of increased hair growth is virilization. This goes hand in hand with other physical changes in women in relation to masculinization.
The causes of increased hair growth in hirsutism are an excess of male sex hormones in women. Genetic predispositions and the use of anabolic steroids when doping also lead to increased hair growth in both women and men. Tumor-like growths on the adrenal glands or ovaries and androgen-containing drugs also promote increased hair growth.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Hirsutism shows up as a masculine hair distribution pattern in women. This can include different areas of the body, but usually refers to all areas of the body where more hair growth is to be expected in men. In the face in particular, there is increased hair growth on the upper lip, on the sideburns and in the chin area. Although light down can also be described as normal on women’s faces, hirsutism causes this down to transform into thicker terminal hair.
In addition, there is increased body hair in the area of the breastbone and around the areolae. The forearms and lower legs are also more hairy. From the navel towards the pubic hair there are hairlines, which can run more or less in a zigzag shape.
The pubic hair is more pronounced and departs from the triangular shape that is aesthetically ideal. Rather, the pubic hair goes into the thighs – and possibly into the hair there.
Hirsutism is often indistinguishable from normal body hair. Body hair in women also depends very much on genetic influences. The stronger body hair is therefore only considered to be a disease if it is very noticeable or if it poses a problem for the affected woman herself.
Excessive body hair itself is usually associated with both mental and physical impairments. However, the trigger for hirsutism can be very serious disorders, which can also have complications. For example, hirsutism can be due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCO), one of the most common hormonal disorders in women.
Affected patients experience enlargement of the ovary due to cyst formation. The reason for this is the fact that although many egg cells mature, ovulation ultimately does not occur. Therefore, the eggs remain in the follicles instead of migrating into the fallopian tube after ovulation. The follicles enlarge and develop cysts, which can lead to infertility.
If hirsutism is a consequence of the adrenogenital syndrome (AGS), there can be a number of very stressful side effects. These include, for example, a strong masculinization up to the development of a pseudopenis, strong and rapid body growth in girls or the early onset of puberty as well as an increased susceptibility to infections or regular hypoglycaemia.
Since a lot of body hair is perceived as disfiguring by many of those affected, psychological problems, in particular depression that requires therapy, must also be expected. Even suicide attempts occur in rare cases.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you have a lot of body hair, it is not always necessary to consult a doctor. Under normal circumstances, body hair is a natural thing that has no pathological value. It is therefore not necessarily a disease if hair growth is more intense on different parts of the body than on other people. If the hair is felt to be uncomfortable or annoying, it can be removed by regular shaving or depilation.
A doctor’s visit is only necessary if the person concerned experiences the hair growth as painful. If psychological problems or general malaise occur, a doctor should be consulted. In the case of excessive hair growth that occurs on unusual parts of the body, it is advisable to clarify the cause with a doctor. There may be genetic, hormonal or other disorders of the organism that need to be diagnosed and treated.
Hirsutism is when a woman has an excess of male hormones. Therefore, women in particular should investigate the causes of excessive hair growth in areas such as the upper lip. If growths or swellings also occur on the body, this confirms the suspicion of an irregular hormone balance. The proportion of male sex hormones in the organism is determined by taking a blood sample. A doctor should also be consulted in the event of libido disorders or irregularities in the menstrual cycle.
Treatment & Therapy
In order to combat excessive hair growth, different treatment options can be considered. In addition to external treatments against increased hair growth through cosmetic and beauty medicine procedures, drug treatments can also be offered. These arise depending on the findings of the diagnostic clarification and the extent of the increased hair growth as well as the level of suffering of those affected.
Since the patients are under an enormous amount of suffering and are often desperate when they have increased hair, it is important to carry out a diagnosis as quickly as possible and to initiate treatments against the increased hair growth as soon as possible.
Short-term methods for removing increased hair are shaving, epilation and the obliteration of the hair roots by electrical and usually laser-assisted epilation. The hair roots are killed in this context, so that no more hair growth can occur in the treated zones.
If the causes of increased hair growth as hirsutism or hypertrichosis are known, therapy can be targeted. Discontinuation of the suspected medication can be helpful in the case of increased hair growth. Medications that promote increased hair growth can, if possible, be replaced by other drugs that achieve a similar effect but are not characterized by this side effect.
Hormone therapies that counteract excess hair are also useful as helpful drug treatments against increased hair growth. This variant aims to reduce the concentration of male sex hormones. If hormone-producing tumors are the trigger for increased hair growth, surgical treatment can promise success in order to prevent excessive hair growth.
As part of preventive measures, excessive hair growth can be avoided in some cases. However, this is only possible if the triggers for increased hair growth are only due to external factors.
Avoiding the use of anabolic steroids by women and the administration of drugs that cause hair growth is also important. Detailed diagnostic investigations and the prescription of special medication against polycystic ovary syndrome by the gynecologist are recommended as a preventative measure, since increased hair growth is already evident during puberty.
Hirsutism, i.e. excessive body hair, depends on the causative disease in the follow-up care and is therefore very different. If the causative condition can be treated successfully, the hirsutism disappears completely within a few weeks to months afterwards without the need for further measures. In the case of a hormonal disorder, it may be necessary to take appropriate hormones for many years or for life in order to at least permanently reduce hair growth.
An endocrinologist is particularly helpful here, as he can monitor the hormone levels in the body and monitor them through regular blood tests. Depending on the cause, it is not always possible to cure hirsutism. The focus here is not on pure aftercare, but on long-term symptomatic treatment. Long-term methods of hair removal such as laser treatments should be weighed and considered by the patient.
General practitioners and cosmetic studios in particular offer detailed advice on this. Laser treatments are carried out in several recurring sessions. The aftercare here is primarily aimed at skin care, other special measures are usually not necessary. With hormonal changes, hirsutism can recur and treatment must be repeated in a variety of ways.
You can do that yourself
A lot of hair is usually not a medical problem but rather a cosmetic one. Those affected suffer psychologically from the changed appearance – especially if it cannot be covered by clothing. Avoiding certain social situations often determines everyday life. The health insurance companies only cover expenses for removing severe hair growth in severe cases. Patients can improve their situation themselves through various measures.
Regular shaving of the affected areas is considered promising. However, visible recovery is short-lived. Body hair grows back after just a few days. For a significantly longer period of time, the hair disappears as it grows. Since the root is also torn out, those affected do not suffer from the cosmetic problems for about four weeks. Epilation and bleaching are also suitable. Both methods promise smooth skin for over four weeks. Those who do not want to do hair removal themselves can go to a beauty salon.
Self-treatment is not always advisable. If excessive hair growth occurs suddenly, you should definitely consult a doctor. This can hide a serious illness.