Hirsutism is a condition in which a girl starts growing hairs like a man. The excessive thick, dark hairs start growing over the face, neck, chest, arms, abdomen, back and thighs. Recently, it has been noticed that, about 1 in 5 women of reproductive age group have hirsutism. This can have devastating effects on the psyche of an individual and is considered as the betrayal of womanhood! Hairs on the face constantly play in their minds and leads to anxiety, depression and low quality of life.
Hirsutism could be due to genetic tendency, obesity, hormonal issues like irregular periods, hormone secreting growths within the body or of unknown reasons. With changes in life style to more sedentary pattern and subsequent increase in obesity menace, hirsutism has become very common. Excessive hair growth commonly starts on face especially the chin, upper lip and upper neck area. Hairs on abdomen grow as fast as facial hairs and tend to thicken faster causing cosmetic disfigurement and embarrassment. If hirsutism is not treated appropriately, the growth tends to increase rapidly to involve all the male pattern regions. Whenever hirsutism is severe, developing very fast, associated with change in voice, shrinkage of breast, it is a grave sign and one needs extensive investigations to rule out any hormone secreting tumors.
There are many other changes in skin and body which happen when hairs starts growing thick like a man! There can be darkening and thickening of skin in the neck, under arms, around eyes and other body folds, which is medically referred as Acanthosis nigricans. Insulin hormone secretion has been found to be more in such individuals. The oiliness of skin, pimples, dandruff and fungal infections of skin tends to be more. Paradoxically, hormones triggering facial and body hair growth stimulates hair fall on scalp leading to baldness in women. Irregular periods in hirsuite women can be a tell tale sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), where there are balloon like swellings in ovaries. This not only adversely affects fertility but also poses a risk to hearts of women!! It has been found that women with PCOS have greater risk of raised blood cholesterol levels and issues of heart like angina, infarction.
Hence, hirsutism not only affects the external appearance of an individual but can also pose greater threat to health and vitality and needs prompt care and management.