PCOS Facial Hair: Why it Happens and What You Can do

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

PCOS Facial Hair
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PCOS is difficult enough to live with, and some of its symptoms such as facial hair make it more distressing. What causes PCOS facial hair, and what can be done about it? Let’s tackle this issue at length in this article. 

Contents:
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    PCOS and Facial Hair Growth
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    Androgens and Hair Growth
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    How to Control PCOS Facial Hair?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How to Prevent Facial Hair Growth in PCOS?
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
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    FAQs
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PCOS and Facial Hair Growth

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is characterised by an imbalance in your hormones where your body produces an abnormal amount of male hormones called androgens. This gives rise to problems with ovulation and menstrual cycles and PCOS symptoms such as facial hair growth. 

This type of facial hair growth in women is called hirsutism. Here, thick, dark or coarse hair grows on your face and other areas on the body such as your chest, back, upper arms or abdomen.

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Androgens and Hair Growth

Androgens are male hormones that stimulate male characteristics including deepening of your voice, male-pattern baldness, increase in muscle mass, and excess hair growth. 

While all women have vellus hair or thin hair (peach fuzz) on their face, women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of androgens and thus develop darker and thicker hair on their face and body like the hair found on the scalp, underarms, and genital areas. 

Androgen-sensitive areas of hair growth include:

  • Upper lip
  • Beard area
  • Breasts
  • Lower abdomen
  • Inner thighs
  • Lower back

It is important to note that PCOS is not the only cause of hirsutism, but it is one of the most common causes. Around 70% to 80% of PCOS patients develop hirsutism.

How to Control PCOS Facial Hair?

The treatment and management of PCOS facial hair involve multiple options. Your doctor will analyse your symptoms before planning the right kind of treatment for you. 

For PCOS-related facial hair growth, treatment methods include:

Weight Loss

Obesity and insulin resistance are considered to be contributory factors for PCOS and its symptoms such as facial hair growth. Thus, weight loss is regarded as the first step in treating hirsutism. 

Losing even a little bit of weight, as less as 5% of your body weight, can lower your androgen levels and help control excessive facial hair growth.

Birth-Control Pills

Hormonal birth control pills help regulate the hormonal imbalance in PCOS. For managing PCOS, doctors generally use combination birth control pills that contain two hormones. These hormones are usually oestrogen, and a synthetic form of progesterone called progestin. 

This modality helps increase the amount of oestrogen (female sex hormone) levels in your body and lowers the level of testosterone (male sex hormone). As the hormone levels gradually normalise, it improves PCOS symptoms such as facial hair growth.

Anti-Androgenic Medications

Anti-androgenic medicines block the effect of androgens such as testosterone. They do this by binding to proteins called androgen receptors. This can help reduce facial hair growth, and other PCOS symptoms such as hair loss on your scalp, the growth of body hair, and acne

It is important to consult your doctor before starting on these medications because of their possible side effects such as birth defects. 

Topical Cream

Eflornithine is a prescription medication in topical form, designed specifically for excessive facial hair in women. It is applied directly to the affected area of your face. It is important to note that Eflornithine can help slow down the growth of new hair but does not get rid of existing hair. 

Permanent Hair Removal

There are two types of permanent hair removal: electrolysis and laser treatment. During electrolysis, a very fine needle is inserted into the hair follicle. A mild electric current is sent through the needle to permanently destroy the hair follicle’s ability to produce hair. 

Laser treatments may be used on large areas of the body. During laser hair treatment, a beam of highly concentrated light (laser) is passed through the skin to the hair follicle to destroy it and prevent hair from growing. Laser hair removal needs multiple sittings to work. 

Self-care methods such as plucking, shaving, waxing, and chemical depilation can be used for PCOS facial hair removal. These methods, along with bleaching can temporarily remove or reduce the visibility of unwanted facial hair and reduce the psychological distress assoc

How to Prevent Facial Hair Growth in PCOS?

It is not always possible to prevent facial hair growth with PCOS. You can manage the condition well with healthy lifestyle changes and medications that help balance your hormone levels. If you do not have facial hair with PCOS, these steps may reduce your risk of developing it. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is characterised by an imbalance in your hormones where your body produces an abnormal amount of male hormones called androgens. 
  • The androgens give rise to problems with ovulation and menstrual cycles and PCOS symptoms such as facial hair growth. This type of facial hair growth in women is called hirsutism. 
  • PCOS is not the only cause of hirsutism, but it is one of the most common causes. Around 70% to 80% of PCOS patients develop hirsutism.
  • Treating PCOS facial hair includes methods such as weight loss, birth control pills, anti-androgenic medications, topical medication, and permanent hair removal methods such as electrolysis and laser treatment.
  • It is not always possible to prevent facial hair growth with PCOS. You can manage the condition well with healthy lifestyle changes and medications to reduce your risk of developing facial hair growth.
  • Start your PCOS management journey with Phable. Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading gynaecologists, endocrinologists, nutritionists, and dieticians; order medicines; book lab tests; and get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Check out our store to order healthy treats, weighing scales, fitness bands, and more! We also have a PCOS Management program that provides ‎360º care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, PCOS can increase facial hair growth. The production of excess androgens such as testosterone leads to symptoms such as excessive hair growth on your face in PCOS. Women with PCOS develop darker and thicker hair on their face and body.

Yes, you can shave your face in PCOS. Facial hair growth is a common symptom of PCOS and shaving is one of the most frequently used methods of temporary facial hair removal by women with PCOS. 

No, PCOS facial hair cannot be reversed because PCOS cannot be reversed. PCOS and its symptoms can only be managed. Managing PCOS with lifestyle changes and medications can help you improve its symptoms such as facial hair growth. 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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