Excessive hairiness: causes

Where does the excessive hair come from?

Hyperpilosity, and more particularly hirsutism, originates from hyperandrogenism (overproduction of male hormones). This hormonal imbalance can itself have different reasons:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (or Stein-Leventhal syndrome), which is a common hormonal abnormality (more than 1 in 10 women would be concerned), is manifested by a lack of ovulation, and a surge of male hormones *. The consequences can be an increase in hairiness in women, but also an acne breakout or significant weight gain.
  • An adrenal enzymatic defect leading to a hyperproduction of androgens.
  • A tumor on the adrenal glands, or a tumor of the ovary (very rare).
  • Taking certain medications (like some pills with progestins androgenic, or anabolic steroids).
  • Finally, hyperpilosity can also be caused by hypersensitization of the hair follicles, androgenic hormones (males), although the latter are produced in a normal amount. This is called idiopathic hirsutism.

* Male, or adrogenic, hormones are normally mildly produced in all women.

But by the way: Why do we have hair?

What is a hair?

The hair, also called "hair shaft", is formed in a hair follicle: a bulb located about 4 mm under the skin. In men, as in women, the surface of the skin is completely covered by about 4 million hairs. During puberty, under the action of androgens, male hormones, the hair system develops and differentiates according to the sexes.

What is the point of a hair?

In humans, the hairs have a protective role. For example, eyelashes protect the eyes from dust. In the genitals, the hairs play a reproductive role. Indeed, the smells they retain are loaded with pheromones, which promote the sexual attraction between two individuals ...

Why do we have hair in some parts of our body and not others, how do we explain this difference?

The sensitivity of certain areas to hormones that will stimulate the appearance of hair, is genetically determined. There are areas with so-called ambosexual hairs, present in men and women (axillary and pubic regions) that appear with the normal hormonal secretions at puberty. Then, hairs in areas sensitive to the normal secretion of male hormones in humans (beard, mustache and areas already mentioned on the body).
In women, there is normally a low secretion of male hormones by the ovary and the adrenal, but it is normally insufficient to stimulate hairiness in the androgenic zones.

Why do some people have more hair than others?

It all depends on the amount of male hormones secreted. It is these hormones, in fact, that determine the thickness and the pigmentation of the hairs. Beyond this hormonal factor, greater hairiness may be of constitutional or ethnic origin.

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