Facial Hair Causes and Purpose
You might not be aware that our body contains two types of hair: terminal and vellus. Terminal hairs are the ones we can see more clearly, as these hairs tend to be darker and thicker, prevalent in areas such as the chin and upper lips. Vellus hairs are thin, fine hairs covering a majority of the face but are less noticeable.
Considered the most cost-effective and simple method of removing body hair, shaving has existed for centuries in varied forms. Its effects tend to last anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on each individual’s rate of hair growth.
Facial skin is quite different from the rest of the body and requires different care when shaving. Particularly for women, they have to treat facial hair differently from the other methods they are used to compared to men, such as shaving their underarms and legs.
While it is optional for women to treat facial hair or not, there are some cases where it can be required. These include conditions that cause excess hair growth as well as menopause, a period that occurs in every female’s later stage in life.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Though this syndrome has the potential to produce less frequent period cycles, it is also possible to cause periods that last several days. Each patient’s experience may show different symptoms. This condition typically occurs in the hormones during the reproductive years when there is excess androgen in the body.
A major symptom of too much androgen? You guessed it. Excess facial and body hair growth. This is also known as hirsutism.
During this reproductive process, small sacs of fluid develop along the outer edges of the ovaries. These fluid sacs are commonly known as cysts. Within these cysts, they contain immature eggs called follicles. These cysts prevent those eggs from being released.
Though the exact cause of the condition is yet to be determined, early diagnosis and treatment have the potential to lower the risk of any long-term complications attributed to the condition. These include life-changing diagnoses such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
When the body experiences high cortisol levels or the stress hormone, this can cause Cushing’s Syndrome to develop. Contrary to its nickname, cortisol helps the body deal with stress rather than cause stress itself. Cortisol is also essential in maintaining blood pressure and regulating blood sugar.
Common symptoms to look for when diagnosing Cushing’s Syndrome (important to note you should always consult a professional rather than self-diagnose at home) are fatty humps between the shoulders, a more rounded face, and purple or pink stretch marks that suddenly appear on the skin. Left untreated, this condition can lead to high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, and bone loss.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
A group of genetic disorders that target the adrenal glands (the glands that produce steroid hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline), these glands also work to create cortisol. Located above the kidneys appearing as walnut-sized organs, women and young girls who experience CAH tend to experience early onset puberty, acne, excessive facial or body hair, and infertility.
Though the effects of CAH can be severe, there are medications available to those who need them. These prescription steroids work to replace the low levels of cortisol in adults. Children who are affected are typically prescribed hydrocortisone, a form of the cortisol hormone.
Originating about a year after a woman’s final period, the menopausal transition of a female’s life tends to occur between ages 45 and 55. During this transition, women may experience changes in their monthly cycles and hot flashes.
During both the peri and menopause stages, women tend to experience excess hair growth on the chin, upper lip, ears, and sideburns. These hormonal changes as well as a reduction in estrogen production are the primary factors in these symptoms appearing.