Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment for hirsutism often involves a combination of self-care methods, hair-removal therapies and medications.

Medications

Medications taken for hirsutism usually take several months before you see a significant difference in hair growth. Medications may include:

  • Oral contraceptives. Birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives, which contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, treat hirsutism by inhibiting androgen production by your ovaries. Oral contraceptives are a common treatment for hirsutism in women who don't want to become pregnant. Possible side effects include dizziness, nausea, headache and stomach upset.
  • Anti-androgens. These types of drugs block androgens from attaching to their receptors in your body. The most commonly used anti-androgen for treating hirsutism is spironolactone (Aldactone). Because these drugs can cause birth defects, it's important to faithfully use contraception while taking them.
  • Topical cream. Eflornithine (Vaniqa) is a prescription cream specifically for excessive facial hair in women. It's applied directly to the affected area of your face and helps slow new hair growth, but doesn't get rid of existing hair.

Procedures

To remove unwanted hair permanently, options include:

  • Electrolysis. This treatment involves inserting a tiny needle into each hair follicle. The needle emits a pulse of electric current to damage and eventually destroy the follicle. Electrolysis is an effective hair-removal procedure, but it can be painful. A numbing cream spread on your skin before treatment may reduce this discomfort.
  • Laser therapy. In this procedure, a beam of highly concentrated light (laser) is passed over your skin to damage the hair follicles and prevent hair from growing. You may have some skin redness and swelling after laser therapy to remove hair. Laser therapy for hair removal also carries a risk of burns and skin discoloration. Laser treatments are also expensive.
Feb. 19, 2014