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The human body is covered with hair follicles which
can lie dormant or active, and when active may grow
vellus or terminal hairs. Hair distribution, the type
of hair and the rate at which it grows varies
between individuals and also between areas on the
body. Hormones control all hair growth, and if the
male hormone androgen is over secreted excessive
hair growth often occurs. Research has shown that
most excess hair growth is due to a combination of
excess androgens and the presence of an enzyme in
the hair follicle that makes it sensitive to the
circulating androgens in the blood stream.
Superfluous hair growth
This is the general term for excessive hair
growth. However, superfluous hair is a
matter of opinion and cultural preferences,
therefore only the client can decide what is
excessive for him or her.
Hirsutism refers to a masculine pattern of hair growth in
women; this hair growth pattern is normal to a man. This
excessive hair growth is due to an over secretion of
androgens, and the hair follicles developing increased
sensitivity to the circulating androgens in the blood stream.
The dormant hair follicles are stimulated to grow hairs and
the existing vellus and terminal hairs grow larger in
diameter. There are two stages of hirsutism:
Primary hirsutism occurs at puberty and develops as a
response to the androgens circulating within the blood
Secondary hirsutism occurs after puberty and develops
because of an endocrine disorder.
Hypertrichosis refers to a generalised
overgrowth of vellus or terminal hairs all
over the body of either males or females.
The hairs grow faster and longer than
normal although there is no increase in the
diameter (coarseness) of the hair. This
type of hair growth is not hormone
dependent but due to genetic or racial
Three main causes of excess growth
In order to achieve a successful
treatment, the electrologist must be
aware of the cause of the hair growth
problem. There are three main causes of
excess hair growth:
This hair growth is present since
birth, some individuals are born
with a normal excess of hair
growth in a pattern that they
There is a variation in hair growth
patterns between races and this is
congenital. People vary in their
sensitivity to androgens,
particularly females who have
lower levels of female hormones
and therefore often develop
superfluous hair growth.
Due to stimulation or friction in
the area, excess hair growth
Stimulation of the blood supply
results in the hair receiving more
nourishment, which allows it to
grow deeper and coarser; this is
also a protection mechanism.
Examples of topical stimulation are
tweezing, plaster casts chaffing,
shaving or x-rays.
This can be caused by both
normal and abnormal hormonal
changes within the body, which
stimulates excess hair growth.
Examples of normal systemic
changes are puberty, pregnancy
Examples of abnormal hormonal
changes due to endocrine
disorders are cushings
syndrome, and adrenogenital