Patient education

The growth of excessive facial hair is a problem that women can experience any time in their life. The medical term for this is called ‘’Hirsutism’. Hirsutism is a condition in which dark coarse hair grows on a woman’s face or body in areas where it would primarily grow only on a male. The excessive growth of terminal hair on the face and body of a female in a typical male pattern distribution is defined as Hirsutisim. Hirsutism is the result of too many androgens (male hormones) being present in the female body and resulting in a hormonal imbalance.

According to researchers, this condition is a common clinical problem in women. Women who suffer from this condition may presume that they are losing their femininity. Living in a society preoccupied with stereotypical perceptions of beauty, the onset of hirsutism maybe very upsetting and may therefore connote loss of femininity and sexuality. There are many reasons as to why excessive facial hair occurs in women. But, of primary concern to this theoretical paper is whether certain medications induce facial hirsutism in women. Research points out that many medications do induce facial hair in women.

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Certain hormone medications cause problems with female facial hair growth. Steroid – based medications which introduce synthetic hormones to the body can also cause female facial hair growth. The National Institute of health lists danazol, phenytoin, glucocorticoid,cyclosporine, minoxidil and testosterone as the more common drugs that trigger facial hair growth in women. Indeed drugs are an important cause of Hirsutism. Most potent are anabolic steroids (methyltestosterone, oxandrolone) used surreptitiously by some women engaged in competitive body building or athletics.

The sex steroid precursor androstenedione is available without prescription and is very popular among adolescents; it is estimated that 2. 5 of all adolescent girls take the drug regularly, especially those engaged in competitive athletics. When used in doses of 300mg/dby young men, it results in increased levels of testosterone and estradiol. Similar increases are likely in young woman, although they are not yet documented. Danazol used to treat endometriosis, may also bring on hirsutism.

In an occasional patient, oral contraceptives containing androgenic progestogens may stimulate hair growth, although this is not a frequent side effect. Phenytoin, glucocorticoids, cyclosporine, diazoxide, and minoxidil stimulate hair growth by poorly understood, nonandrogenic mechanisms. Facial Hirsutism is a treatable condition and clinical evaluation of the problem is necessary to make sure that there is no other underlying medical condition, before management of this condition is considered. Diagnostic procedures consume a lot of time and sometimes maybe inconclusive, but they are essential for effective and timely intervention.

Patient education is another important step in this process and in some cases counseling maybe all that is needed. For patients who need treatment, a wide variety of pharmacological strategies are available. Informing the patient that current systemic therapy is imperfect, is important. The patient should also be made to understand that none of the drugs used in the treatment of hirsutism have FDA approval. Therefore, therapy should be started in patients who give their informed consent after a complete explanation of the potential benefits and risks of a particular treatment.

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