Why is hair removal a multi-billion dollar industry? Why is laser hair removal alone the 4th most wanted cosmetic procedure in the nation? Because we don’t like it!
Unwanted hair is quite often deemed embarrassing and causes a lot of women to develop self-esteem issues. Sometimes, these issues last for several years.
What is Hirsutism?
Hirsutism, the medical term for unwanted body hair, can develop on a woman at any age but it is more prevalent at puberty. When hormones start kicking in, a young woman’s body can feel like a roller coaster; one minute, she’s bloated, fatigued for no reason or the next minute she develops unexplained weight gain. All women have a balance of estrogen and androgen in their bodies. When androgen levels become high, masculine features may develop. Hence, why she develops unwanted facial and body hair.
Women look for means to get rid of the hair as opposed to researching why they have it in the first place. With that being said, it is vital for women to maintain routine communications with their doctor, especially a gynecologist or an endocrinologist, when they notice abnormal changes in with their body. Something far more complicated could be going on with their health.
What Causes Hirsutism?
There are many health conditions that could be the culprit to hirsutism, but the most common causes are highlighted below. All of them have proven methods for treatment:
• PCOS- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome occurs when the ovaries develop abnormal cysts. There is no set cause to PCOS besides genetic patterns. Some of the symptoms to PCOS include infertility, pain or irregular periods, insulin complications, weight gain around the stomach area and, of course, hirsutism. Metformin and Spironolactone are popular medications to curb PCOS and hirsutism. Establishing a low glycemic, low sugar diet and exercising routinely helps a lot.
• Insulin Resistance - When the body does not respond to insulin as it should, body makes more of it. This could develop into diabetes, which has a direct correlation to PCOS. Weight gain and hirsutism are expected with diabetes. Regular intake of insulin, exercising and a disciplined diet can make the world of difference with insulin resistance and self-image.
• Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia - This condition occurs when the adrenal glands produce too many steroid hormones, especially cortisone and androgen. The cause to CAH is unknown but genetics or benign tumors are common culprits. Medication to replace cortisone and surgical removal of tumors usually stop CAH symptoms.
• Idiopathic Hirsutism - IH occurs when there is no imbalance in hormonal levels but a woman still has abnormal body hair. The usual cause of IH is a mutation in genes. The most popular medication for IH is Spironolactone; it works by blocking testosterone activity in the blood stream. It will have to be taken for several months before noticing changes to hair patterns.
How To Remove Hair Permanently?
The more conventional methods of hair removal include shaving, waxing, tweezing, sugaring, depilatory creams and epilation devices. None of these; however, are permanent and the hair returns within a matter of days.
Professional laser hair removal involves a concentrated laser hitting the follicle disabling it for long periods. 5-10 sessions of this and you will be hair free for several months or years. The downside is that laser hair removal is often painful and expensive and it is easy to severely burn skin if done incorrectly. Laser hair removal is not permanent either; touch-up sessions are expected.
Electrolysis is FDA approved for true permanency. A small needle is inserted into the problem follicle and then, energy is sent to the follicle killing it. Several sessions are required and it is often a painful and slow process. It’s best to use electrolysis on small areas and laser hair removal on larger areas. Numbing creams are available to eliminate some of the pain.
Are There Natural Methods to Treat Hirsutism?
Natural plants and herbs have shown promise in reducing hirsutism. Let’s explore some of them here:
• Saw Palmetto: If taken for an extended period time, saw palmetto is believed to relieve PCOS-like symptoms, including hirsutism. It is a popular herb in balancing hormonal levels, but the medical research for it is still limited.
• Lavender and Tea Tree Oil: When applied topically, a European study found that diluted lavender and tea tree oil reduced facial hair in women with mild hirsutism after 4 months. Lavender is a popular essential oil so many women may find this helpful.
• Myo-inositol: Myo-inositol is a sugar-like compound found in nature and in the body. When taken regularly, studies have shown it reduces symptoms of hormonal imbalance, especially hirsutism.
• Spearmint and Green Tea: Not only do people in the Middle East and Europe swear that spearmint and green tea reduce unwanted body hair, studies have shown similar promising data.
Bottom line: there is no “cure” for hirsutism besides killing the follicles with electrolysis. The best way to correct unwanted body hair is to find out why it’s there to begin with. Talk to your doctor about Metformin and Spironolactone and any herbal supplements you may want to try. At the same time, look for deals on professional long-term hair removal and get clear skin again in no time!
Renae M. Gylbert, aka “Mo,” suffers from hirsutism herself. She blogs about it and related topics on her website, www.thehirsutismhub.com. Follow her there at:
@thehirsutismhub on Twitter