Chin hair: why women have it and how to get rid of it

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Q: Why do women grow chin hair as they age – and what’s the best way to remove it so that it doesn’t grow back darker and thicker?

If you’re a woman who grows unwanted new hair on your chin, the first thing you need to know is that most of the time, “it’s perfectly normal,” said Dr. Joel L. Cohen, dermatologist and director of AboutSkin Dermatology. and DermSurgery in Denver.

As women approach menopause, he said, the balance of hormones in their bodies shifts and they can start to produce more male-like hormones called androgens. These androgens, Dr Cohen said, can turn the types of hair follicles that women typically have on the face – those that produce short, thin, light hair known as peach fluff – into follicles that make hair thicker and darker.

As to why some women grow these hairs and others don’t, it’s often down to genetics, said Dr. Angela Lamb, a certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai in New York City. If you grow unwanted hair and your mom, sister, or grandma did the same, it’s a good sign that this type of hair growth exists in the family.

There are many safe ways to remove unwanted facial hair, including waxing, waxing, threading, shaving, or using depilatory creams. If you are worried that any of these techniques will cause your hair to grow back thicker, you can relax on this forehead. “It’s a myth,” Dr. Lamb said. In fact, the opposite can even happen: waxing, waxing or threading can reduce hair growth, as some hair follicles are damaged by the hair removal process and stop producing hair, a- she declared.

Another way to control the growth of unwanted hair is by using a prescription cream called Vaniqa, which makes hair grow slower, thinner, and possibly lighter in color when applied twice a day. But the cream only works as long as it’s used – once you stop applying it, the hair will grow back as before, Dr Lamb said.

If you want to permanently remove chin hair, you can consider laser hair removal or electrolysis, said Dr Lamb, both of which work by damaging the hair follicle so that it stops producing hair. Electrolysis, which can be done by a doctor or esthetician in a medical spa – and involves inserting a needle into the hair follicle and damaging the root with an electric current – is safe for all skin types and skin types. hair. Laser hair removal, in which laser light is used to heat and destroy hair follicles, can also be done in a doctor’s office or medical spa. But often it doesn’t remove light-colored hair effectively, and it’s generally not safe to use on darker skin tones because it can burn the skin, noted Dr. Cohen. One exception he mentioned is a new laser hair removal device called Bare HR, which is available in some medical spas and doctor’s offices and can be used safely on all skin types.

You can buy laser or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy devices at home, which are also an option for lighter skin tones and damage the hair follicles by heating them. But these devices are often less effective, run slower, and require more treatment than those performed by professionals, Dr Lamb said.

If you notice more body hair than usual and it appears not only on your face, but also on your chest, lower abdomen, inner thighs, or back, you may want to see a doctor. This type of excessive hair growth, called hirsutism, can be caused by genetics or as a side effect of certain medications. In many cases, this is nothing to worry about. But hirsutism can also be a symptom of another medical condition that requires treatment, Dr Lamb said.

One condition that can cause hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome, so called because small cysts develop in the ovaries. These cysts lead to increased androgen production, promoting hair growth, Dr. Cohen explained, resulting in thicker, darker hair. Other symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, weight gain, and acne. Seeing a doctor is important for women with symptoms of PCOS, Dr Lamb said, because left untreated can lead to infertility. Usually, PCOS is treated with lifestyle changes and medications, which could include birth control, progestin therapy, or metformin, a diabetes medication.

Long-term use of corticosteroids, which are used to treat certain autoimmune diseases as well as asthma, can also lead to changes in hair growth patterns, including overgrowth, Dr. Cohen said. This is because they too stimulate the production of androgens in the body.

Usually, however, additional hair growth is nothing to worry about, and it is very common. “People ask me about this all the time,” Dr. Lamb said.

Melinda Wenner Moyer is a science journalist.


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