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Hirsutism: causes and management

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Hirsutism is a common and distressing condition, and unwanted facial hair is one of its most devastating consequences. Hirsutism is associated with increased anxiety, depression, self-consciousness and embarrassment, diminished self-confidence and body dissatisfaction.1

Up to 60 per cent of hirsute women believe that hair growth has an impact on the way they perceive themselves, with 68 per cent avoiding social situations. Approximately 25 per cent of hirsute patients have psychiatric disturbances.1 The presence of unwanted facial hair is a particularly distressing symptom because this is visible to others. Clinical experience shows that women with hirsutism generally only seek medical help if they experience facial hirsutism.1

Hairs are normally present on most of the skin surfaces of the body except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Genetic and hormonal influences largely determine hair thickness and the pattern of distribution; hair colour is genetically determined and depends on the amount of melanin present.

Hair growth cycle

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