All women have some amount of fine hair around the lips and jaw line. However, at times these hairs become coarse, thick and long causing social embarrassment. This extra thick hair growth is also called as hirsutism and may run in families. Women find it very bothersome and may get depressed to have dark coarse hair growing on upper lip and rest of the face.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is quite commonly associated with excessive hair growth around the face, nipple area, back and lower tummy. This may be associated with other features of PCOS like acne (or pimples), head hair fall, weight gain and irregular periods in women.
Women with polycystic ovaries have higher levels of male hormone called androgen in the body. This may be responsible for men like hair growth on the face and other places in the body.
Medical research suggests that loosing excessive body weight may improve hirsutism and bleaching makes them less noticeable temporarily. Certain steroid drugs, hormones, minoxidil(used to decrease hair fall) may also cause reversible hirsutism.
Temporary hair removal methods have their own problems. Shaving the hair off may cause the hair to look thicker, waxing and plucking may be painful and chemical removal may cause allergies and bad smell. Thus permanent hair removal options are considered better in the long run.
Permanent hair removal methods like electrolysis and laser hair removal are currently the best cosmetic treatments for thick dark hair but the laser should be chosen carefully as it can cause permanent scaring if not used correctly.
Medical treatment for excessive hair growth in PCOS women includes use of birth control pills or vaginal rings. However, these pills or rings need to be used for at least 6-7 months for any visible reduction in hair growth. Till that time cosmetic treatment should be continued along with medication.
Another drug called spirenolactone is sometimes added in moderate to severe cases of hirsutism or when birth control pills are not effective. One must be careful to avoid pregnancy while on this medication as it can cause birth defects in the baby.