While there are people who worry about hair loss, there are those who worry about excessive hair growth in different areas of their bodies. Hair is part our beauty that’s also crucial to our health and speaks volume about what’s going on in our lives. Hair growth in parts like the thighs, belly, and butt is normal in men. But, when it happens to women, it’s not welcome and is cause for concern. Does excessive hair growth on different body parts indicate a medical condition? This article sort to find out and tells you if you need to see a doctor.
Studies have shown that an increase in testosterone can lead to excessive hair growth in women, scientifically known as Hirsutism. Women with hirsutism are hairier than they’d want to be. The hair appears to be thicker and darker and grows in a male-pattern type, that is, on unwanted body parts like the woman’s chest, face or belly. This is more common in women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) because the condition causes the excessive production of male sex hormones or androgens. Luckily, you can reverse this condition through anti-androgen medication which regulates the secretion of androgens.
If it runs in your family, then there is no escaping it. Certain ethnic groups simply are hairier than others like Mediterranean individuals. Typically, there are two types of hair that cover our bodies. The vellus are the very tiny and thin hair that covers the entire body and you barely notice them. The terminal hair, on the other hand, is much thicker, stronger, darker and longer than vellus hair. This type of hair may be triggered by hormonal changes. The pubic area, eyebrows, underarms, and eyelashes are the common areas you can find terminal hair. Different ethnicities have different amounts of terminal hair and what might seem normal to you might seem very abnormal to someone else.
You Might Have a Developing Tumor
If there’s a sudden increase in your body hair, and blood tests reveal very high testosterone levels, then a tumor might be responsible for the release of excessive male hormones. This is especially true if it’s a tumor of the adrenal gland or ovary. While this is not a common occurrence, it’s a possibility that needs to be checked out by your doctor. According to Mazen Abdallah, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and a medical director of the Houston Fertility Institute in Texas, adrenal gland disorder, which causes the Cushing’s syndrome, where cortisol production is increased, also causes an increase in the production of androgens. In another adrenal gland disorder called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, one of the enzymes producing cortisol is not sufficient. This means that cortisol is not produced and androgens are produced instead, which leads to excessive hair.
Sensitive Hair Follicles
If upon checking your hormones and adrenal gland, the doctor doesn’t find any anomalies, then your hair follicles might be overly sensitive. If that is the case, then the androgen receptors found in your hair follicles are super sensitive “to any normal androgen circulating in your blood,” according to Sandy S. Tao, MD, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In other words, although your testosterone levels might be normal, your hair follicles overreact causing excessive hair growth on different body parts. To get rid of such hair, you may have to use temporary methods like shaving, creams, and waxing or permanent methods like laser hair removal.
There are specific medications that can cause an increase in hair growth. For instance, if you’re taking steroids which treat endometriosis, then excessive hair growth might be one of the side effects. Similarly, anti-hair loss medication like minoxidil can actually promote hair growth in unwanted body parts. Additionally, cyclosporine, a drug used to treat immune disorders, and some anti-seizure medications can also trigger excessive hair growth in different areas of the body.
With pregnancy comes hormonal changes in women that could lead to the appearance of unwanted hair in certain parts of the body. The hair might start growing darker, thicker and stronger, and not only does this affect the hair on your scalp, but also on the whole body. It’s common for hair to grow on the belly, face, thighs or breast when you’re pregnant. Doctors haven’t confirmed the safety of hair removal methods and the safest option is simply shaving or wait until the child is born, and the hair will disappear by itself.
Obesity is linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes and PCOS. Experts are also positive that gaining weight alters the production of testosterone and may promote unwanted hair to spring up. Luckily, lifestyle changes like weight loss, eating foods that are rich in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables and low sugar diet can reverse these effects.
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