Female Facial Hair
What is female facial hair?
Female facial hair, sometimes referred to as hirsutism, is when a woman experiences excess hair growth of dark, thick hair, usually on their chin or upper lip. This problem is particularly common after a woman has been through the menopause, with 75% of post-menopausal women experiencing excessive facial hair. This is a result of hormonal changes in the body due to the menopause; your oestrogen levels decrease while your testosterone levels go up, causing hair growth.
It is more common in women who have darker hair, in particular women from Europe or Southern Asia. Excessive facial hair can also run in the family, so if your relatives have struggled with unwanted hair, you may also.
There are various removal options, as well as ways to disguise and lessen excessive facial hair.
Most people's bodies are covered by a fine layer of small, light-coloured hairs. However, when you have excessive hair growth, the hair becomes darker, coarser and more visible. This excessive hair growth is most common on the face, but it may also appear on your neck, bottom, stomach and chest. Many women find this embarrassing and if this is the case, you are advised to seek treatment.
Other symptoms may appear alongside excessive hair growth including:
- Your voice deepening
- Receding hairline
- Oily skin
Polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause you to experience:
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
What causes female facial hair?
In around 25% of cases, the cause of excessive facial hair in women is not clear. These cases are known as idiopathic hirsutism.
Excess facial hair is more likely to occur in women who have dark hair, especially if they are from Europe or Southern Asia. It can also run in the family, meaning that if your mother suffered with unwanted facial hair, you may have it too.
Polycystic ovaries and the side effects of certain medicines may cause unwanted facial hair, too.
In many cases, facial hair is the result of an increased sensitivity to androgens, which are male sex hormones, in pre-menopausal women. This is most commonly the result of polycystic ovary syndrome (POCS); this syndrome results in irregular periods, weight gain and acne.
Hormonal changes can be the cause of female facial hair, including the menopause. If a woman is going through the menopause, they are more likely to have excess facial hair; this is because their oestrogen levels go down while their testosterone levels go up, causing facial hair to grow.
Excessive female facial hair does not need to be diagnosed by a doctor. However, if you do have unwanted facial hair, you should discuss this with your doctor so they can get to the root cause of hirsutism. If you have an underlying condition like polycystic ovary syndrome, this can be treated at the same time as your facial hair.
It can be diagnosed by your doctor looking at the hair and grading the growth on 9 different areas on your body. They will grade each area from 0 to 4 (0 = no hair growth, 4 = heavy growth of dark hair). If your score comes up to 15 or higher, this is considered to be moderate to severe hirsutism.
Some women may suffer from depression, embarrassment or a lack of confidence as a result of excessive hair growth. If this is the case, you should speak to your doctor about this. If hirsutism appears suddenly, make sure you speak to a doctor.
Female Facial Hair Treatment
There are various facial hair removal treatments available. If you are using a hair removal treatment, you are advised to see your doctor before beginning treatment to make sure you are not suffering from an underlying condition that is causing the hair growth.
Fortunately, there are various ways to remove, disguise or lessen excess facial hair. However, these treatments are classed as cosmetic and are not available on the NHS.
Facial hair removal treatment comes in a range of techniques that require no medical intervention. It is up to the individual to decide upon the most suitable treatment for their condition.
Facial hair removal treatments include:
- Laser hair removal, which can permanently remove hair; it is particularly beneficial for women with pale skin and dark hair. This process can take a long time and is often quite expensive.
- Shaving is a quick and simple method for removing facial hair, but it can cause irritation and leave stubble.
- Bleaching can lighten hair to disguise it. It is most effective on pale skin, but it may result in irritation.
- Electrolysis, which can permanently remove hair just like laser hair removal, but this can also take a long time, be expensive and may also result in scarring or skin discolouration.
Vaniqa cream is an effective treatment for excessive female hair growth. It is not a facial hair removal cream; instead, it slows down the growth of hair and makes it shorter, finer and lighter. As a result your facial hair will be considerably less visible to others. It works by reducing the growth of hair by blocking the enzyme responsible for hair growth within the hair follicle.
This cream can reduce facial hair in up to 70% of people who use it and it has been proven to be effective in all skin colours and types.
Vaniqa cream is safe to use alongside other treatments like hormone tablets or other facial hair removal treatments like waxing or shaving. You should use Vaniqa cream on a regular basis as hair growth will resume within 8 weeks of stopping treatment.
If you need medical treatment for hirsutism, your doctor might instruct you to use a certain oral contraceptive. This will only be prescribed for pre-menopausal women to use.
Oral contraceptives work by blocking the male hormones' effects, to reduce the appearance of facial hair. However, this form of treatment can take up to six months to work.
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This means that no matter which member of our team is assigned to your case, you can rest assured that you are in the hands of a highly skilled medical professional, who possesses the compassion and clinical expertise to properly advise you on the best course of treatment.
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