Chin Whiskers: Just What Every Menopausal Woman Wants

chin-whiskersRemember when your great-grandmother kissed you and you could feel spiky whiskers poking your face? Now it’s your turn. All kinds of ‘delightful’ changes occur when a woman goes through menopause and facial hair is one of them.

Facial and body hair that increases after menopause is called hypertrichosis. When coarse hairs pop up on a woman in areas where you would see hair on a man this is considered hirsutism and is often the outcome of increased male hormone levels. Hairs that were always there but weren’t obvious become visible when hormonal changes from menopause take place.

T.S.: I pluck and wax. I thought about letting it grow and joining the circus as the bearded woman.

The true irony is while hair on the face may increase, hair on the head is simultaneously thinning and falling out. As noted by, Father Time and Mother Nature do have a wicked sense of humor when it comes to deciding where hair grows or doesn’t grow on older women and men.

S.R.: I had facial hair, peach fuzz. When my son was getting ready to get married he said to me, “Mom, what are you going to do about that hair on your face?” Needless to say, I had it waxed.

When estrogen diminishes, testosterone (the male hormone) is unrestrained, causing females to grow hair in places men have it, such as on the face, according to Dr. Doris J. Day, clinical assistance professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Yes, just what every 60-year-old female wants, a goatee to go along with her muffin top and thinning hair.

J.S.: Hairy genes plus age = yuck!
C.G.: I’m a tweezing fool!

Because estrogen receptors are plentiful around the face, this area is susceptible when circulating estrogens are reduced as a result of menopause and, voila, hair appears.

So what are you going to do about it? If you opt for waxing this pulls hair from the roots and is effective for about six weeks. Waxing is not a one-time thing.

K. C. (hairdresser): Never shave it because when you’re in a nursing home I guarantee they won’t do it for you. Waxing is the best. Plus eventually it will stop.

Depilatory creams are an option, although some women can’t tolerate them. The cream irritates their skin.

Shaving is not recommended because the hair will come back in coarser and stiffer but not thicker. Plucking can leave a bump at the site of hair removal. If you opt for laser hair removal and are dark skinned, this can result in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation resulting in a dark stain on your skin. You may appear to have a mustache even though there isn’t any hair above your lip, notes Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.

Other options include electric hair removers that remove hair by cutting and pulling on it. Electrolysis can result in permanent hair loss (hurray!) but it doesn’t happen overnight. You may have to have several electrolysis sessions. Electrolysis is a good solution for stray hairs but not for larger areas of hair. Laser therapy is another alternative.

Vaniqa has been FDA-approved for use on unwanted facial hair in women. This cream hinders the enzyme hair follicles require to grow. Ask your doctor about Vaniqa.

K.D.: My hair cut is always followed with some wax. My sweet hubby has an explanation for signs of menopause and mood swings: She’s growing whiskers. He’s a pretty observant and understanding guy. I am blessed.

Losing weight can lessen unwanted hair growth, because male hormones decrease when a woman sheds pounds. There is a link between high hormone levels and being overweight. If you can drop some weight, which reduces the male hormones in your body, you may discover you are sporting less facial hair.

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About This Blogger

Cindi Pearce

Cindi Pearce has been writing professionally since the days of manual typewriters. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University, Cindi is especially interested in women’s health concerns. She teaches yoga, is an amateur belly dancer, loves mowing her five acres of land with her beloved zero turn mower, has three grown children, one granddaughter and five large dogs. Cindi has managed to stay married to the same man for 35 years.

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