If films and TV are to be believed, the female body is as smooth as a dolphin. Except on the head, there is no hair to be found anywhere. Even in commercials for razors or depilatory creams, you will not easily see a hairy leg. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. We all have hair everywhere except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. Still, it can be annoying when you suddenly see hair where no hair was growing before. Especially if that hair develops on the face. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do about that.
When we say that we have hair everywhere, we mean the fine, downy hair all over the body. It is a relic of our evolutionary past where hair served as protection from the elements. Now that we no longer need that protection, it is mainly seen as undesirable by many women. Especially in women with dark hair, where it is more noticeable.
Hirsutism and unwanted beard growth
Suddenly getting facial beard growth as a woman can have several causes. In medicine, this unwanted hair growth is called hirsutism. It manifests as thick, dark hair on their face, neck, chest, abdomen, lower back, buttocks or thighs. It can be caused by a medical condition, certain medications, or a genetic factor. Hirsutism is linked to hormones called androgens. It can occur when the level of these hormones increases or when your body becomes more sensitive to them. All humans produce androgens, but these levels usually remain low in women. However, if a woman's skin suddenly becomes sensitive to androgens, or if her body starts producing these hormones in excess, it can cause hirsutism.
Rapid, thicker beard growth on a woman's face and body can be a sign that something is wrong with the hormonal balance. Hirsutism can affect anyone, at any age, but you are more likely to have it if you have a family member who has also been diagnosed with it. Women of Middle Eastern, European and South Asian descent are also more prone to hirsutism.
PCOS and unwanted hair growth (hirsutism)
The most common cause of beard growth in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This disorder of the ovaries can also cause symptoms such as acne and irregular menstruation. It accounts for 85 per cent of cases of hirsutism. Overweight people and those with a family history of this condition have a higher risk of developing PCOS. Besides hirsutism, other symptoms of PCOS may include;
- irregular menstrual cycle
- weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- thinning hair
- skin spots
- fertility problems
The unwanted hair in 'male spots', is due to male hormones. All women also have some male hormones in their bodies (such as testosterone). They just have less of it than men. PCOS affects hormones, which can cause hair growth in male spots. What causes this is not yet fully understood.
Other causes of unwanted facial hair
It is important to know that fine, downy hair on the face is quite normal. If you have this light, fine hair on your face or body, it is probably not hirsutism. Most women get more of this kind of hair as they age, especially after menopause. However, apart from PCOS as the cause, there are other rare cases that cause hirsutism:
- certain medications
- the use of anabolic steroids
- other hormonal disorders such as Cushing's syndrome and acromegaly
- a tumour affecting hormone levels
What to do about unwanted beard growth?
At the HG-Specialist, we mainly focus on unwanted hair loss. But of course, it is also very annoying to see hair where you don't want it. If you experience this, it is always wise to see your GP to determine what the underlying cause is. Should the reason be PCOS, this syndrome has other consequences and symptoms that need to be monitored.
In the meantime, you can remove the unwanted hair by tweezing or waxing. Another less painful option is to use Keramene. This is a 'body hair minimiser' with a unique formula against unwanted hair. It works in two ways: First, by inhibiting the growth phase of the hair follicle, which induces the transitional phase of the hair. This ultimately stops hair growth. Then, by suppressing the production of epidermal cells, so that existing hair grows slower and thinner. This way, you can get rid of your unwanted hair painlessly and in no time.