Hair is essentially keratin formations that grow from the sebaceous glands on the skin. Their primary purpose is to protect us from being cold. Each hair comprises of the stem, the part located outside the skin, the root which is inside the skin and the bulb, the thickened end of the root. Each hair goes through a cycle consisting of three stages.
First stage – Anagen (growing) stage. This is the stage in which the hair is born inside the follicle from the dermal papilla. This papilla is full of capillaries and together with the cells of the epidermal basal layer surrounding it, nourishes the hair and helps it to develop.
Second stage – Catagen (intermediate) stage. The catagen phase is a transitional stage and about 3% of all hairs are in this phase at any time. This phase lasts for about two to three weeks. Growth stops and the outer root sheath shrinks and attaches to the root of the hair. This is the formation of what is known as a club hair.
Third stage – Telogen (final) stage: Lastly, your hair enters the telogen phase, a resting phase when your hair is released and falls out. The follicle then remains inactive for 3 months and the whole process is repeated. Each hair follicle is independent and goes through the growth cycle at different times than the others, otherwise all your hair would all fall out at once. Instead, you only shed a certain number of hairs a day – up to 80 hairs a day on a healthy head of hair.
Hair growth problems
Hirsutism is excessive body hair in men and women on parts of the body where hair is normally absent or minimal, such as on the chin or chest in particular, or the face or body in general.
It is normal for a woman to have fine, pale, faintly visible facial hair (under the chin, cheeks lower abdomen and inner thighs) but some women have coarse or colored hair that grows on the face and body. This is called hirsutism, and it is sometimes linked to a medical condition.
About half of all cases are due to high levels of “male” androgen hormones, specifically testosterone. Women normally have low levels of androgens, but levels vary, and higher levels can over-stimulate the hair follicles and lead to excess hair growth. Another common cause of hirsutism is some increased sensitivity hair follicles might have to androgens i.e. despite the level of androgen hormones being normal, they affect the follicles more than usual. When the amounts of androgens are too high, they can also cause acne and a deep voice.
Definitions of hirsutism vary, but the condition is thought to affect between 5 and 10 percent of women. Prevalence also increases with age, especially after the menopause.
Light or moderate hirsutism is not considered a problem and does not require medical treatment. The solution is rather an easy process, since hair removal methods are numerous and certainly one of them should be appropriate.
Hirsutism can also be caused by several drugs such as cortisone, and anabolic hormones. You can also worsen the problem of unwanted hair growth on your own, by trying to get rid of it with certain methods like shaving.
HIRSUTISM REQUIRING MEDICAL TREATMENT
Sometimes hirsutism causes strong hair growth on parts of the body or face, which is naturally hairless. The development of hair growth in such areas depends mainly on two factors. The secretion and effect of androgen hormones, and the follicles’ ability to react in said hormonal secretions.
Causes of medical hirsutism
Contrary to what applies to a simple case of hirsutism where the problem is only aesthetic, in hirsutism cases requiring medical treatment it is very likely that there is an underlying pathological problem. The culprits in women are often the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Some issues causing hirsutism through the ovaries are the polycystic ovary syndrome, the ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome and ovarian tumors. In the case of the adrenal glands, the “Crushing” syndrome is mainly responsible. There is always the possibility that the issue of hirsutism is caused by medication as a side effect. Drugs with such effects are testosterone, danazol, anabolic, steroids, etc.
Treatment of medical hirsutism
Generally in cases of serious hirsutism, we don’t normally treat the symptom (hirsutism) but the underlying cause. Detection of the cause usually comes through an endocrinological check. When the cause is treated, usually the cease of excessive hair growth follows. The biggest mistake one can make is to ignore the cause, and only care about the aesthetic restoration of the problem.
In cases of heavy hair growth in body parts that are normally hairless, we are dealing with idiopathic hirsutism and only after eliminating the abnormality due to a condition. The situation can be resolved through hair removal methods, such as thermolysis, electrolysis or laser.