Monday, January 5, 2009

Hirsutism: A Hairy Issue

Everyone has body hair, the amount of which is dependent on the genetic makeup of the specific person. However, men are generally considered to be hairier than women given that their bodies produce more testosterone, the hormone necessary to produce hair. In the occasion that a woman experiences excessive hair growth in areas where men typically grow hair such as the face, chest, and back, she may be suffering from a condition called hirsutism.

Hirsutism is a condition of unwanted, male-pattern hair growth in women caused by an excess of androgens, the hormone necessary for testosterone production. Aside from excess male hormone, hirsutism can also be caused by ethnic or genetic traits. Whatever the cause, hirsutism can cause considerable discomfort for women. If you suspect that you are suffering from hirsutism, here are some tips that can help you manage this hairy issue:

1.Be aware of the symptoms.

Hirsutism is more than just sprouting a beard over your lipstick. There is more to it than an overgrowth of hair. Young people are likely to experience a spurt of hair growth when they hit puberty but it doesn't mean that they are suffering from hirsutism. If you are way past the adolescent age and have hair on parts that should have and shouldn't have it, other symptoms of hirsutism to watch out for include a deepening voice, baldness, acne, decreasing breast size, increased muscle mass, and clitoral enlargement. If you have or suspect to have these symptoms, consult your doctor for a possible case of hirsutism.

2.Get the possible causes out in the open.

The most effective means to treat something is to address underlying conditions that made it possible. As such, discuss with your doctor the possible causes behind your hirsutism. Some causes to consider aside from those discussed above include polycystic ovary syndrome (imbalance of sex hormones), Cushing's syndrome (exposure to increased cortisol), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (abnormal steroids production), tumors, and medications.

3.Undergo exams and tests your doctor will prescribe.

Most often than not, your doctor will probably have you undergo certain diagnostic examinations before confirming any diagnosis and prescribing any treatment. These tests can range from the typical full physical examination to more technical ones like ultrasound and CT scans. Be sure to get these diagnostic tests done in a public hospital where they are often cheaper or in an in-network facility of your health insurance provider to save on costs.

4.Use the prescribed medications.

Depending on the cause and severity of your case, your doctor may prescribe that you undergo different treatments or use several forms of medications. Some of the most common treatments for hirsutism include electrolysis and laser therapy, procedures that permanently remove unwanted hair. While speedy results are expected from these treatments, they do not address the source of hirsutism. Medications, on the other hand, can range from oral contraceptives, anti-androgen drugs, and topical creams which treat the underlying hormonal imbalances to eliminate the cause of hirsutism. You can usually get these medications from a discount pharmacy.

5.Manage unwanted hair.

Treatment for the underlying causes of hirsutism can take a long time. Aside from laser therapy, you can also opt to manage or remove unwanted hair by using depilatory creams, plucking, shaving, and waxing. Just be sure to follow directions and get professional advice to avoid irritating your skin and getting ingrown hairs and rashes.

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Kristine Anne Gonzaga is a content writer and researcher who specializes in health topics and health-related issues. She delights in finding tips and ideas on simple and practical healthcare and sharing them through her writing.

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