Unwanted facial hair may affect women going through menopause, as they begin to notice coarse hairs on their chin, jaw line, cheeks or sometimes the forehead. Like most symptoms and effects of menopause, the cause of unwanted facial hair may be hormone-related.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the hormone that primarily controls facial hair. When DHT levels are higher, facial hair changes from fine, vellus hair (peach fuzz) to coarse, terminal hair. During the reproductive years, DHT levels are relatively low, but when women reach menopause, DHT levels begin to increase. Higher levels of estrogen relative to testosterone before menopause keep DHT levels low. When estrogen levels sink during menopause, DHT levels begin to increase in the hair follicle, causing the coarse hairs to appear.
Hirsutism is a condition that causes the excessive growth of thick, dark facial and body hair. The condition is most common in women, but may affect men as well. High levels of androgen in the body may lead to hirsutism. Polycystic ovarian syndrome and Cushing's disease may lead to higher levels of androgen in the body. Obese women may also have high levels of androgen in the body.
Excessive hair growth may run in families. Certain conditions that cause excessive hair growth such as hirsutism may be genetic. Excessive hair growth is more common in women of Mediterranean and sub-continental Asian descent as well. To learn more about excessive unwanted hair growth, patients are encouraged to discuss the matter with a skincare professional. There they will be given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss possible treatment options.