JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Idiopathic hirsutism: excessive bodily and facial hair in women

Ebtisam Elghblawi
British Journal of Nursing: BJN 2008 February 14, 17 (3): 192-7
18414261
Hirsutism is the excessive and increased bodily and facial hair growth in women in locations where hair is normally minimal or absent. It refers to the growth of hair in a pattern normally occurring only in men, and therefore primarily raises psychological, cosmetic and social concerns. Idiopathic hirsutism (IH), where the cause of excessive hair growth is unknown, is considered to be the most common form of hirsutism. It is suspected that this type of hirsutism may be familial, as there is often a family history of the condition. Women with IH will generally have normal menses and normal levels of testosterone. There are many treatment modalities that fall into two broad groups: medical and mechanical treatment. An example of a medical treatment is when an agent is used, which interferes with the synthesis of androgen at the ovarian or adrenal level, or by inhibiting the effect of androgen at the receptor level. An example of a mechanical treatment is laser hair removal, where the hair follicle is destroyed; however, much depends on the on the skill of the treating practitioner, laser type, laser spot size, skin type, hair colour, and the stage at which the hair follicles were during their hair growth cycle, and the delivered wavelength. Laser offers the fastest method of hair loss. Other mechanical treatments include electrolysis, depilatory creams, plucking and waxing. This article presents a general overview of IH, including a definition, diagnostic measures, clinical manifestations, normal and abnormal physiology, and treatment options.

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