Everyone has hair follicles all over their body except for the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet. In women, the follicles on the face, arms and body usually produce tiny, almost invisible hairs (vellus) that are not generally noticed. However, sometimes this hair growth is so thick and/or dark that it becomes very obvious.
There are racial differences in the degree of hair growth on the face and body. Individuals of Mediterranean and Semitic decent are hairier than those of Nordic or Anglo-Saxon decent. Whites are hairier than blacks, while Orientals and American Indians are the least hairy.
If the increase in excess hair has been relatively sudden or rapid, you may have a hormonal disorder. Hirsutism refers to androgen (male hormone) dependent, terminal hair growth in a male sexual pattern, occurring in women. The commonest areas involved (and the best indicators of an elevated hormone) are the chin, chest, abdomen and pubic thigh areas.
Unwanted facial and/or body hair can result from drug treatment. These drugs include Dilantin, cyclosporine, danazol, anabolic steroids, minoxidil, diazoxide, tamoxifen, and high doses of cortisone over long periods of time.
Increased facial hair growth is fairly common after menopause. Hairs on the upper lip, the chin, and the sides of the face become darker, thicker and courser. This increased hair growth is not considered abnormal.
Unwanted hair can be an annoying and embarrassing problem for many women, men and teens. Most people have tweezed, shaved, waxed and used depilatories with only temporary results – often causing increased growth, ingrown hair and skin damage. The sites of body hair that individuals find undesirable are varied. Men most frequently shave their facial hair and mature males often need to remove excess nasal and ear hair. In women, the underarms, legs, abdomen, bikini, breasts, face and eyebrows are common sites of cosmetic reasons for hair removal.
Laser hair removal is a safe and effective treatment for all skin types.
Most hair growth is normal. But if you are concerned that it may be abnormal, you should consult your physician to determine whether your hair growth is indeed abnormal or excessive.