Unwanted Facial Hair
The major sign of Unwanted Facial Hair (UFH) is thick, dark hair appearing on a woman’s face. This hair is typically coarse and pigmented and is different from the hair that some women have on their upper lip, chin, breasts or stomach, or the fine ‘baby’ hair all over their body.
While stray hairs on your face and neck may be not a cause for concern, your doctor can help you understand when UFH is a result of an underlying medical condition.
It is important to pay attention to the development of other signs and symptoms in addition to UFH. Here are a few simple questions that may help you determine whether you are experiencing symptoms that require you to seek medical advice.
Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions:
• Do you notice rapidly growing, unwanted hair on places such as your upper lip, cheeks, chin, neck, mid-chest, inner thighs, abdomen, or low back?
• Do you notice unwanted hair growth associated with irregular menstrual periods?
• Are you experiencing hot flashes?
• Do you notice an increase in the amount of acne on your face or body?
• Do you suspect there are physical issues affecting your fertility or limiting your ability to conceive?
• Do you notice any unwanted hair growth that appears to be worsened from a medication?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, make sure to see your healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms so that you can be properly diagnosed, rule out any other underlying medical conditions, and help you to decide the best treatment approach for you.
A number of healthcare professionals may be involved in the diagnosis, treatment and management of Unwanted Facial Hair (UFH), including:
• General practitioners/family doctor
In order for your doctor to make a diagnosis of UFH you will first need to discuss your medical history. Your doctor may ask you about your menstrual cycles, the time of onset of your symptoms, whether you're taking any medications and whether you have a family history of certain conditions. Your doctor is likely to:
1. Perform a physical exam. Your doctor will examine your face. He or she may also conduct a physical examination to check for other signs of androgen excess and for conditions that can result in a hormonal imbalance.
2. Order blood tests. Tests that measure the amount of certain hormones in your blood, including testosterone, may help determine whether your UFH is caused by elevated androgen levels.
3. Further testing. The extent of further testing you'll undergo depends on the severity of your UFH and any other associated symptoms. If androgen levels in your blood are elevated, you may undergo imaging tests. These may include:
• Ultrasound. This imaging test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of your body's internal structures. An ultrasound of the ovaries or adrenal glands may be performed to check for tumours or cysts.
• Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan is a type of X-ray test that provides cross-sectional images of your internal organs. A CT scan of your body may be used to evaluate the adrenal glands.