Excessive facial hair growth occurs when the body produces too much male hormone. Causes of increased male hormone production include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), adrenal tumors, adrenal hyperplasia and ovarian tumors. While waxing and plucking remove hair temporarily, treating the underlying causes of excessive hair growth provides long-term results.
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Some birth control pills inhibit the production of testosterone in the ovaries. These prescription drugs include ethynodiol diacetate, desogestrel, norethindrone, ethinyl estradiol with norgestimate, and ethinyl estradiol with drospirenone. As testosterone production decreases, hair growth slows, and less hair appears on the face. Side effects of birth control pills used to treat excessive facial hair include breast tenderness, nausea, headaches, high blood pressure and an increased risk of blood clots.
Women with excessive facial hair use eflornithine (Vaniqa) to prevent hair growth. This prescription drug blocks the effects of an enzyme (ornithine decarboxylase) necessary for hair growth. This allows the drug to work directly on the hair follicles and prevent the formation of new hair. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that women with excessive hair should apply this medication to the face twice each day, with the second application occurring at last eight hours after the first.
Prescription flutamide (Eulexin) works against the male hormones that cause excessive facial hair. Side effects of this drug include diarrhea, loss of sex drive, skin rash, impotence, hot flashes, enlarged breasts, urine discoloration, blood in the urine and rectal inflammation, according to Drugs.com.
Spironolactone (Aldactone) also prevents the male hormones in the body from causing too much hair growth. Since this prescription drug has diuretic properties, increased thirst and changes in the amount of urine produced may occur. Other side effects include dizziness, mood changes, weakness, fatigue, menstrual changes, muscle spasms and problems with sexual function.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often have excessive facial hair, insulin resistance, and acne. Prescription metformin (Glucophage) reduces the amount of glucose produced in the liver, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University. This results in less facial hair, increased sensitivity to insulin and fewer problems with acne.
Doctors prescribe leuprolide (Lupron) for women who cannot tolerate birth control pills or do not respond to other hormonal therapies. This prescription drug increases estrogen levels in women, which blocks the effects of too much testosterone. This reduces the growth of facial hair. Since this drug contributes to vaginal inflammation and bone demineralization, medical professionals use caution when recommending leuprolide.
Adrenal hyperplasia results in excessive hair production. Corticosteroids treat this condition and improve the symptoms of acne, excessive hair and irregular menstrual cycles. Significant long-term effects make these drugs one of the last options for the treatment of excessive facial hair. These effects include ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, infection, weight gain, insomnia and mood changes, according to Dr. Theodore Fields, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
When excessive facial hair results from tumors of the reproductive organs or endocrine system, surgery to remove these tumors decreases the production of male hormones. This prevents excessive hair growth from occurring. Since removal of the ovaries decreases the amount of testosterone produced by women, those who struggle with excessive facial hair may elect to have their ovaries removed, even if they do not have ovarian tumors. Doctors perform this procedure on women who have already passed their childbearing years.