Hirsutism is a condition in which hair grows on a woman in areas where it would not normally appear, such as the chin, chest and areolae. There is another condition, called hypertrichosis, which is very similar. However, they differ in the areas on the body where they appear. Hirsutism appears in androgen dependent areas whereas hypertrichosis can appear in any area. The bearded lady was most likely a victim of Hirsutism. Hypertrichosis has been colored called "werewolf syndrome" and is the disease that afflicted Jo-Jo the dog faced boy (Fedor Jeftichew).
Hirsutism comes in two primary types: Familial and Symptomatic. Familial hirsutism is hereditary, not a symptom of androgen problems. In certain parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean and Middle East, it is simply normal for women to grow hair on their chin. This condition begins at puberty.
Symptomatic hirsutism is a symptom of an underlying problem such as hypersensitivity to or overproduction of androgens. It can also be caused by problems with the adrenal system and, rarely, hypothyroidism. Symptomatic hirsutism can appear in early childhood or may not appear at all until after puberty.
Hirsutism and the Thyroid Gland
There is little connection between hirsutism and the thyroid gland, though hirsutism can occur in cases of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism generally causes hair to become brittle, thin, and fall out, not grow more. However, hirsutism has occurred often enough that hypothyroidism is investigated as a possible cause.
The connection between the thyroid gland and hirsutism comes from the fact that the thyroid gland secretes the hormones responsible for hormonal sensitivity, overall energy consumption and the creation of proteins throughout the body. One of the primary issues in hirsutism is oversensitivity to androgens in specific areas of the body. Therefore, it makes sense, though the linkage has not been proved.
Hirsutism is not an actual disease and generally does not require treatment. It is sometimes caused by conditions that require treatment which should be diagnosed by a doctor. However, if the hirsutism itself is considered a problem, regular hair removal techniques work.