The Underlying Causes of Unwanted Facial Hair
Why does my peach-fuzz seem as if it’s on steroids?
This is a genuine and common question asked about by a good chunk of the female population worldwide – Today I plan to get you to the bottom of this fuzzy conundrum (no pun intended), my didactic motivation here is to get you all acquainted with the root causes and solutions (both medical as well as natural). Another indirect and underlying theme of this communiqué is to create a general awareness for all those who don’t have to deal with a 5-o’clock shadow on a daily basis: to be more sensitive towards other dames-in-distress’s legit medical problem (which truth be told – they have no control over).
Looking at literature reviews you’d be surprised to know that around 20-22% of women across the globe are affected with the unwanted facial hair (UFH) growth on their mustache and chin area. These stats make UFH a universally undesirable common problem. In most cases there are no major health issues related to it, but because of its strong visual and cosmetic effects it does act as a source of constant distress leading to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and ultimately a reduced quality of life for many ladies.
While investigating the root cause, studies have uncovered that in most cases the underlying reason is idiopathic pinpointing to ethnic background or heredity. Arab, Mediterranean Indian, and Hispanic populations are more commonly affected compared to Caucasian or Asian females. The problem also tends to run in families, so if your mother, sister, or another female relative has it, your chances are stacked.
In a small percentage of women, UFH may be caused by excessive androgen (male hormone) production, increased sensitivity to circulating androgens, or other metabolic and endocrine disorders. Some medications can also lead to UFH e.g. minoxidil, anabolic steroids, testosterone, cyclosporine etc.
If increased hair growth is triggered by medications, or underlying hormonal imbalance it is classified as hirsutism. It can be slowly but dramatically improved by a three-pronged approach to treatment:
- Mechanical hair removal
- Suppression of androgen production
- Androgen receptor blockade
To find out what is the exact cause in your particular case, it’s always advisable to see a doctor, who can work methodically on your case with a detailed history of your condition, appropriate blood tests as well as ultrasound or MRI scans of your ovaries and adrenal glands.
Plucking, waxing (including the sugar forms), epilation, depilatories, bleaching, shaving, electrolysis, laser hair reduction or intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments all make good choices to remove the physical hair.
Eflornithine 13.9% (Vaniqa®) Cream is a topical treatment that does not remove the hairs, but acts to reduce the rate of growth at root level. It is FDA approved for treatment of unwanted facial hair on the mustache and chin areas and can be used in combination with other treatments options for mechanical hair removal such as lasers or IPL to get best chance for successful hair removal.
Drugs Used For The Treatment Of Hirsutism –
If upon investigation the excessive hair growth turns out to be a symptom of adrenal disorders or PCOS you may need medical treatment. Drug therapy in the form of anti-androgen medications helps salvage the inner problem, it includes as per case:
- Hormonal suppressers eg. oral contraceptives, long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormonal analogues and insulin sensitizers as well as
- Peripheral androgen blockers eg. spironolactone, cyproterone acetate, flutamide, or finasteride.
Birth control pills can also cause the cysts on the ovaries to shrink. These drugs are usually a long-term solution for hirsutism. Most ladies report improvement after three to six months of drug therapy.
Herbal Remedies For Hirsutism –
If you’re opposed to taking drug therapy there are certain herbal remedies that can also potentially counteract the increased androgen hormone production (common cause behind hirsutism).
- According to the research done in the University of Maryland Medical Center medicinal herbs such as saw palmetto, black cohosh, chaste tree or spearmint tea have anti-androgenic effects.
- Research from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has shown that symptoms of hirsutism due to PCOS responds to cinnamon, chromium or green tea.
- Other natural supplements such as: inositol, N-acetylcysteine, B-complex vitamins, calcium-D-glucarate and diindolylmethane (DIM), have also been found useful while treating hirsutism.
The typical dosages are 1 cup twice daily of spearmint tea, 160mg twice daily of saw palmetto, 20mg to 40mg per day of chaste tree or black cohosh, 200mg daily of calcium-D-glucarate, 100mg twice daily of inositol, and 1.2g per day of N-acetylcysteine.
(Disclamer: Ask your physician about the dosage that’s right for you before taking any herbal or natural supplement for abnormal facial hair growth.)
Food Modulation –
A healthy diet that’s rich in antioxidant foods helps to reduce your facial hair growth, advices the University of Maryland Medical Center.
- Cutting down on calories especially in the evening and following a low glycemic diet helps hirsute women, as excess insulin in the bloodstream can lead to a sharp increase in circulating androgen and insulin-like growth factor, which have been associated with hirsutism in women.
- B vitamins, especially vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6, may be particularly beneficial for hirsute women. Vitamin B2 helps to convert dietary fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy. Vitamin B3 helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and vitamin B5 may help with weight loss due to its ability to control fat metabolism. Vitamin B6 plays a critical role in maintaining hormonal balance.
- Foods rich in Chromium (romaine lettuce, onions, tomatoes, whole grains, and potatoes) and Magnesium have been found useful in hirsutism.
Final Earful –
It takes time (months) for the treatments to take-effect hence while battling with the deep-rooted UFH problem, patience and poise are always good virtues to lean on.
And remember : hairy or hair-free you should always be cool and confident.