Watch your weight and get exercise. Obesity has been linked to an increase in the male hormones that can cause hirsutism. In addition, medications for conditions related to hirsutism are not as effective in overweight women. Therefore, if you are obese, consider losing weight. Develop and start an exercise program, with the help of your doctor if necessary.
Use physical hair-removal methods. Contrary to popular belief, temporary hair removal methods such as shaving, waxing, tweezing, and depilatory creams do not cause hair to grow back coarser and darker than the original hair. Permanent hair-removal methods include electrolysis (use of a small shock to destroy the hair follicle), intense pulsed light (use of a flashlamp to destroy the hair follicle), and laser phototherapy (lasers are targeted at hair follicles).
Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.
Certain topical medications can be used to control hirsutism. For example, Eflornithine hydrochloride cream (Vaniqa) slows facial hair growth. The cream takes four to eight weeks to cause improvement, and hair growth returns after discontinuing the cream.
Adrenal tumors, some ovarian tumors, and some benign pituitary tumors (adenomas) are generally treated by surgery. Oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) may be an option for women approaching menopause whose hirsutism is caused by ovarian abnormalities.
Some herbal remedies are available that claim to treat hirsutism. However, none have been proven. Talk to your doctor if you are considering taking herbal remedies or other forms of alternative medicine. Some herbs that have been used to treat hirsutism include:
- Shakuyaku-kanzo-to: an herb that may help to reduce testosterone levels in women.
- Saw palmetto: an herb said by some to be useful in inhibiting the effects of testosterone.
Hirsutism caused by a hormonal disorder will usually not go away entirely. However, hirsutism that is caused by a curable condition has a positive prognosis. When the condition that caused the hirsutism—such as Cushing's syndrome or a tumor—is treated, the hirsutism should resolve and the hairiness should diminish. However, this can take a number of months. Conditions related to hormone production are likely to improve with drug therapy, but the hirsutism does not always disappear completely. If a tendency for hirsutism is recognized early, drug therapies can help hold off the actual development of the condition.
You may need to continue drug therapy, lifestyle changes, and physical hair removal on an ongoing basis. See your doctor every three to six months.
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