Q: Hello Dr. I hope this finds you well. I’m a twenty year old lady and I’m very hairy…it’s even on the chest area. I was told it’s because of some steroids I took as a child for severe eczema I had. Can this be treated and how? Thanks, hope to hear from you soon
A: What you’ve described sounds like hirsutism which is a situation in which there is excessive hairiness in a woman in places like the face, chest and back. Funny enough, growing up, very hairy ladies were considered pretty special…In a good way 😀
This situation can be caused by any situation that increases the male sex hormones (androgens) or increases the response of hair follicles to androgens. Some conditions that can cause this include Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or from taking medications such as prednisone (a steroid) over a long period as appears to be the case here, some drugs, obesity etc It is more likely in people who have a family history of this and in people of Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origin. This can also be found in women with no risk factors and women where no specific cause can be found.
If specific causes are found eg obesity or PCOS, these should be addressed.
As you may have found out, permanent methods of getting rid of the facial and other unwanted hair like laser treatment (which does not destroy the hair follicles) and electrolysis (which destroys hair follicles but may leave small scars on face) are expensive with laser being more popular and more expensive.
Mild cases of hirsutism can be dealt with by shaving, waxing, plucking or using depilatory creams…much as you would take care of underarm hair.
Birth control pills used over a period of 6 to 12 months may improve this condition by helping reduce the effects of androgens and reducing the production of more sex hormones. Anti-androgen drugs can also be used.
So, make out time to go find a gynaecologist as soon as you can and discuss this. He will carry out a detailed investigation and then confirm treatment options that would work best for you depending on his findings eg whether the contraceptive pills are an option for you etc
Until you’re able to do that, you may have to keep shaving, plucking, waxing or using depilatory creams. As soon as you can afford it, laser treatment should be considered.
Have a great evening, y’all 😀