Here are some of your general frequently asked questions that relate to removal and growth of hair for both men and women:
How do hairs grow?
Follicles produce hairs in repeated cycles. Each individual hair's growth cycle is independent from any of the other hairs. The cycle comprises 3 phases:
Anagen - Growth PhaseCatagen - Transitional phaseTelogen - Resting Phase.
Anagen - growth phase
Approximately 85% of all hairs are in the growing phase at any one time. The Anagen phase, or growth phase, can vary from between 2 to 6 years.
Catagen - transitional phase
At the end of the Anagen phase the hairs enters into a Catagen phase which lasts about a couple of weeks. During the Catagen phase the hair follicle shrinks to about a sixth of the normal length. The lower part of the follicle is destroyed and the dermal papilla breaks away to rest below.
Telogen - resting phase
The resting phase follows the Catagen phase and normally lasts about 5-6 weeks. During this time the hair does not grow but stays attached to the shortened follicle, while the dermal papilla stays in a resting phase below. Approximately 10-15 percent of all hairs are in this phase at any one time.
At the end of the Telogen phase the follicle re-enters the Anagen phase. The follicle lengthens and joins the dermal papilla at the base of the follicle. Once they have joined, a new hair begins to form. If the old hair has not already been shed, the new hair pushes the old one out and the growth cycle starts all over again.
What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism is defined as excessive and increased hair growth in women in locations where the occurrence of hair is normally minimal or absent. It is primarily of cosmetic and psychological concern to women. Hirsutism is not a disease, it is a symptom of a more serious medical condition, especially if it develops well after puberty.
The cause of hirsutism is either an increased level of androgens (such as testosterone) or an oversensitivity of the hair follicles to androgens. Testosterone (a male hormone) stimulates hair growth and can also be detected in women through symptoms such as acne, deepening of the voice, and increased muscle mass. Research has also shown that high levels of insulin in women can cause hirsutism.
There are a number of conditions that may increase a woman's androgen levels, such as:
Polycystic ovary syndromeCushing's diseaseTumours in the ovaries or adrenal gland (cancer)Certain medicationsInsulin resistance
Hirsutism only affects women since the rising of androgens causes hair to grow where men typically have hair anyway. Excess hair normally appears on the chest, abdomen, back and face - areas of the body which women generally will want to remove hairs from. One method used in the evaluation of hirsutism is the Ferriman-Gallwey score, which provides a score based on the amount and location of hair growth.
Many women with unwanted hairs look for ways to control the appearance of hirsutism. If the growth is excessive then women should consult a specialist as the it could be a result of a serious medical condition. The specialist or doctor can conduct blood tests to pinpoint the specific origin of the abnormal hair growth (if there is one), and then advise on the best course of treatment.
What is Pseudofolliculitis?
This condition, also known as ingrown hairs, is mainly related to darker skinned people or people with curly hair. If a person has this condition they will notice lots of small bumps on the skin, mainly around the neck and jaw line area. This condition is caused by the hair in the follicle either entering the wall of the follicle (i.e. doesn't leave the follicle) or on leaving the follicle, turns and re-enters the skin.
Typically darker skinned people have coarse curly hair which naturally causes this condition. However, some methods of removing hair can make this worse. Waxing, for example, can sometimes adjust the growth direction of a follicle by pulling its hair out in the opposite direction to its growth. Fortunately this condition can also be dramatically improved by another hair removal method called laser treatment.