Hirsutism is a pattern of terminal hair growth in women which is more typical among men. The causes for this condition may be a result of: hormonal imbalances in the body; medication related side effects; or there may be no underlying cause (idiopathic). Parts of the body that are affected can include but is not limited to the upper lip, chin, cheeks, breasts, central chest, abdomen and cheeks.
Hirsutism varies from person to person and ethnicity plays an important factor when evaluating whether or not the condition is present. For example, women of Eastern European, Southern Asian, or Southern European descent typically have facial, abdominal, and thigh hair whereas women from Asia and India will have mild terminal hair growth in these parts of the body. Since hair growth in these cases are a result of ethnic origins, it is possible that a hormonal imbalance is not the concern.
A detailed history is essential, focussing on onset, progression, family/ racial background, masculinization, menstrual and pregnancy history. Proper physical examination may reveal signs of Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism etc.
Hormonal testing is not mandatory in clients with stable hirsutism who have no signs of masculinization. About a quarter of the patients may present with idiopathic hirsutism with normal hormone levels.
Laser hair removal systems have gained wide popularity, achieving permanent hair reduction in clients with idiopathic hirsutism over the past twenty years.