Causes and Treatments for Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a condition characterized by excessive hair growth in women in places where hair typically does not grow, such as the face, chest, and back. It affects about 5-10% of women and is often a result of an underlying medical condition. While some women with hirsutism find it a cosmetic concern, others may experience emotional distress and reduced self-esteem. In this article, we will discuss the causes and treatments for hirsutism, from analyzing the average laser hair removal cost as a treatment option to taking a closer look at the biology behind hirsutism.

The Prevalence of Hirsutism


Hirsutism is a medical condition that is characterized by excessive hair growth in women in areas such as the face, chest, and back. While it is a common condition, the prevalence of hirsutism varies depending on the population. In the United States, hirsutism affects between 5 to 15 percent of women, with a higher prevalence among women of certain ethnic groups such as Hispanic and Middle Eastern women. The prevalence of hirsutism tends to increase with age, with women over the age of 50 being more likely to experience this condition.

Causes of Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a medical condition characterized by the excessive growth of hair in women in areas where unwanted hair is typically associated with male characteristics, such as the face, chest, and back. While some women may have a genetic predisposition to hirsutism, it is often caused by hormonal imbalances in the body. The most common cause of hirsutism is an overproduction of androgens, male hormones that women also produce in smaller quantities. Androgens can cause the hair follicles to become more sensitive to unwanted hair growth, leading to the growth of thick, dark hair in areas where it is not typically found in women

Another common cause of hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition is characterized by the formation of small cysts on the ovaries, which can cause hormonal imbalances in the body. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens, which can lead to the excessive growth of hair on the face, chest, and back. Other hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome, adrenal hyperplasia, and thyroid disorders, can also cause hirsutism by disrupting the body’s hormone balance.

Treatment Options

  1. Laser Hair Removal: Laser hair removal is a popular cosmetic procedure used to treat hirsutism. The procedure works by using a laser to target and destroy hair follicles, preventing future hair growth. The average laser hair removal cost can vary depending on the size of the area being treated, but it can range from $200 to $500 per session. Multiple sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results. While laser hair removal is effective, it is not a permanent solution and may require maintenance sessions.
  2. Medications: Medications are often the first-line treatment for hirsutism. These work by decreasing androgen levels, slowing hair growth, and preventing new hair growth. Common medications used to treat hirsutism include oral contraceptives, spironolactone, and finasteride. These medications can be effective, but they may take several months to work, and some may cause side effects such as weight gain, nausea, and headaches.
  3. Electrolysis: Electrolysis is another option for treating hirsutism. The procedure works by inserting a needle into each hair follicle and using an electrical current to destroy the hair follicle. Electrolysis is a more time-consuming and expensive option compared to laser hair removal, but it is effective and can provide permanent results.
  4. Topical Creams: Topical creams, such as eflornithine, can be used to slow down hair growth. These creams work by inhibiting an enzyme in hair follicles that is necessary for hair growth. While these creams can be effective, they are only suitable for small areas and can take several months to work.

Overall, hirsutism can be a distressing condition for women, but there are effective treatment options available. The choice of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of hirsutism, the severity of the condition, and personal preferences. Medications, laser hair removal, electrolysis, and topical creams are all viable options that can help reduce the appearance of unwanted hair growth.