How Common is Unwanted Hair Growth in Women?
February 22, 2018
Based on the media, it would seem as though it is natural for men to be hairy and for women to be hairless. Television, the movies, and magazine ads depict women with little to no hair on their arms, faces, and bodies. The reality, however, is very different. Women, like men, have hair follicles on their upper lips, chins, cheeks, arms, legs, and torsos - so it is very natural for women to grow hair in these places.How much hair is normal?
The answer is not so clear. While unwanted hair growth can be caused by an underlying hormonal imbalance, more often than not, individual differences in hair growth are a result of normal genetic variation. Metropolitan areas, such as Cleveland, are home to women of many different ethnicities and genetic backgrounds. Women of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent tend to naturally have more facial and body hair than women of Asian descent. African American women tend to have fewer hair follicles than Caucasian women, but their hair might be more noticeable if it is thicker and darker. Despite these natural genetic differences, many of us tend to compare ourselves to the norms portrayed in the media.Emotional Toll
For as common as this issue is, unwanted hair can be a source of deep anxiety. According to a study conducted by Bristol-Myers (manufacturer of health and beauty products) approximately 20 million American women remove facial hair at least once per week. For many women, the management of unwanted facial hair is part of their daily routine. A 2006 British study reports that women with facial hair spend, on average, 104 minutes per week managing the problem. Two-thirds of women surveyed reported frequently checking for facial hair in mirrors, and many reported feeling uncomfortable in social situations.
Issues around facial and body hair are a personal matter and demand a personalized approach. Hair that is enough to make a woman uncomfortable is arguably too much. The ways in which women manage unwanted hair is also very personal. Methods such as shaving, waxing and tweezing are temporary methods of managing unwanted hair. Laser hair removal can successfully reduce the amount of hair in a given area, but is not effective for all skin and hair types and may not yield permanent results. Electrolysis requires time and commitment (requiring a number of treatments over an extended period of time) but ultimately results in the permanent elimination of treated hair.
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