What Are the Causes of Excess Facial Hair in Women?


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause excessive facial hair. This condition strikes women in their reproductive years. Characteristics of this disease include developing male features such as increased facial and body hair, a deepening voice, acne, male pattern baldness and enlargement of the clitoris. However, there are other conditions that can result in excessive facial and body hair in women.


When a woman develops hirsutism, which is evidenced by an increase in facial and body hair, this can be very difficult to deal with and potentially embarrassing. According to Medeterms.com, hirsutism is the Roman way of saying hairy, derived from the Latin term “hirsutus,” which means rude or bristly. A person who has hirsutism is said to be hirsuit, meaning possessing an overabundance of hair. Hair can develop in places where women don't normally sprout hair, including on the chin, chest, lips, back, abdomen and the face.


Typically, hirsutism isn’t a serious disorder. However, occasionally it is caused by tumors or cancers that are hormone-secreting and result in male characteristics developing, according to the National Institutes of Health website.


Cushing’s disease can cause hair growth on a woman’s face. This condition occurs when there is too much ACTH, a hormone, manufactured by the pituitary gland. ACTH then prompts the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Women are more likely than men to be affected by this disease, which can also be caused by taking steroid medicines for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and asthma.


Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is an inherited disorder of the adrenal gland. It can result in excess facial hair. Those who have this condition have a shortage of an enzyme that is required by the adrenal glands to produce the hormones aldosterone and cortisol. If there is an insufficiency of these hormones, the male hormone androgen becomes too prominent and causes male characteristics to appear in girls as well as manifest too early in boys. In addition to hair on the face, there will be excessive hair growth on the head. Armpit and pubic hair will appear sooner than it should.


A non-malignant ovarian conditions called hyperthecosis can cause facial hair growth. This condition is the result of increased testosterone (male hormone) concentrations. Women who have this condition usually have a history of hirsutism and are obese. This condition can occur in post-menopausal years, whereas PCOS only occurs during the reproductive years, according to Eurodrugspharmacy.com.


If you start growing hair on your face, or in other places that aren’t normal, consider the medications you are taking. Drugs that can cause excessive hair growth, including on the face, include anabolic steroids, cyclosporine, phenytoin, minoxidil, danazol and testosterone.

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