Hirsutism refers to an excessive growth of usually dark, thick and coarse hair typically in female patients (in a male-pattern distribution). Commonly affected areas include upper lip, chin, midline of buttocks and front of thighs, stomach and the lower back.
Treatment of dark hair with medical grade lasers is very effective but ongoing maintenance may be required. Hirsutism affects approximately 10% of females in Western Societies and is commoner in those of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern descent. If the excessive hair is generalised and not in a gender specific pattern, the term “hypertrichosis” is used.
Hirsutism can be caused by increased androgen production, an increase in sensitivity to the effects of androgens, or both. Your Doctor might want to check a full hormone profile (blood test) and might suggest a pelvic ultrasound to check for Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Patients with PCOS are sometimes obese, and have persistent greasy skin and hair and moderate to severe acne and abnormal facial hair.
The most common form of treatment is laser hair removal. Shaving is mostly unacceptable for female patients. Some patients will try electrolysis. Depilatory creams are sometimes used and aimed at stabilising the hormones.
Topical creams may also be prescribed to prevent the abnormal growth. The combined pill, cyproterone acetate, spironolactone and finasteride have all been used in the past and are helpful. Anti-androgen drugs may harm the unborn male baby so your Doctor will discuss proper contraception in women of child-bearing age.