Hair is a four letter word When it Grows in All the “Wrong Places!”
Very few people are happy with where and why unwanted hair grow on their body. All of us cut, tweeze, bleach, shave, clip, wax, and thread the unwanted hair off our bodies. To help you understand why these hairs grow where you don’t want them let us look at what exactly happens while the hair is growing.
During pregnancy, as the epidermis is formed, the number of hair follicle cells you’re ever going to have are formed. This is between 700 – 1000 per square inch all over your body. Now, most of these never produce a noticeable hair but there is the potential for you to have a thick coat of hair just as all other mammals – cats, dogs, horses, cows, etc.
Throughout your lifetime, hair follicle cells produce very fine hairs those are mostly invisible to the naked eye. The obvious exceptions are eyebrows, eyelashes, hair on top of the head, hair inside the ears and hairs inside the nose. Some young children also have a fine covering of peach fuzz hairs on their body as well, that may or may not disappear during childhood. And, more hairs develop on the body during the adolescent growth period (This is when the hormones are raging through their bodies and it’s kind of a toss-up as to who will survive adolescence – them or us.)
After adolescence, both sexes have underarm hair, called ‘axillary’, meaning underarm, pubic or genital hair, forearm hair (from elbow to wrist), and hair on the calf of the leg from knee to ankle. Males develop beard, neck and moustache hairs, and body hairs both front and back plus upper arm hair (from elbow to shoulder) and thigh hair (from knee to groin). The quantity of hair can vary from male to male but all males develop hair in these areas. Females may develop a little facial hair on the corners of the upper lip and maybe a few hairs around the breast or some thigh hairs but essentially females past puberty do not develop very much in the way of body hair.
Any hormone change or shift during one’s life can possibly produce some new and most likely unwanted hair growth. This is more common for females than males. A good example is someone selecting oral contraceptive pills to control fertility. Sometimes females will also get some unwanted facial or body hair as a result. Then, you have to chose between that particular birth control technique and possibly growing more hair. Or, you can switch to a barrier method and have the hair growth stop and possibly even regress.
During pregnancy, it is common for some unwanted facial and/or body hair to show up as well. This is because the hormone levels increase to produce the necessary cellular division and development of the fetus. This type of growth is called hyper plasia which means increased growth by increasing the number of cells in the various body parts of the fetus. This increased hormone level can also affect the mom-to-be. This hair can also decrease after pregnancy and maybe it won’t. There’s no absolute rule.
As we all approach middle age and our body’s metabolism decreases, a situation that starts at the end of adolescence, we start to notice we can’t do things as well as we could when we were 18, for example.
Hormone production is part of basal metabolism. As basal metabolism slows down, hormone production slows and this changes the hormone balance in the body.
We do not become abnormal in this respect but there are enough changes in these levels that hair can start to show up in new places such as the ears of men and stop growing in other places such as the calf of the leg or axilla or pubic area on both sexes.
Another place where women can begin to grow these unwanted strays is on the face. This can be a small nuisance or a serious problem depending on the quantity of hair that shows up.
If you have an under active thyroid, you might not have a lot of body hair. Then, when you take the medication to correct the under active thyroid, you may end up with more hair than before.
Anytime you take a hormone, there is the possibility you can experience a change in hair growth. It may be one you like such as more hair on top of your head or one you’re not so fond of, such as chin hairs.
Only hormones cause hair to grow. So that means that tweezing, waxing, cutting, etc., do not cause new hairs to grow. What happens is, you have the beginnings of hair growth activity you do not want so you decide to tweeze or wax it. Then, when the replacement hairs come in, if they are darker, you think the tweezing or waxing did it. It didn’t. Had you left them alone, they would have turned darker anyway under the hormone influence that started the growth.
But frequent waxing / threading / plucking / tweezing or waxing can irritate the bulb and bulge of the hair follicles and give rise to more and more thicker and darker hair. Further they destroy the skin too.
Most unwanted hair is not the product of abnormal hormone levels in the body. Even though you may have hairs on your chin and that is not the usual place for women to have hair, which does not mean you need to be rushed to an endocrinologist for a complete analysis. There are three major factors that affect whether or not an individual hair follicle converts from peach fuzz status (no color or length, almost invisible to the naked eye) to terminal status (having color and/or length and noticeable to the naked eye).
1) The hair growing potential on various parts of the body of either sex.
2) Your ethnic or genetic history.
3) The susceptibility of an individual follicle to your normal circulating hormones.
This is how you can end up with just one hair growing in a location or several. So you can have 5-10-15 hairs at the corners of your mouth on your upper lip and yet not have an abnormal amount of free testosterone (the hormone responsible for hair follicle development) to identify via a lab test. Unless you have a significant growth of facial hair on your chin, neck or beard, you will test as “normal” and have spent money you could have spent on hair removal.
Types of Body Hair
There are two types of hair. The thick, coarse, and dark hairs called the terminal hairs, and the thin, fine, non-colored hair called the vellus hairs. The terminal hairs are located in areas like the underarms, eyebrows, head, back, and genital regions. The vellus hairs are located in regions like the cheeks. It is the thick, coarse, and dark hairs that the hair laser is best able to address. In fact presence of skin coloured hair makes a person look natural and normal.
Hair growth starts in the hair bulb. The actively dividing cells in the bulb move upwards and outwards to become the new hairs. Hair grows in cycles of one to three months in duration. Hair grows at different rates in different areas of the body. There are three phases of hair growth. Actively growing hairs are in the anagen phase of growth. During this time the hair has increased amount of pigment (melanin). Following this phase, the hair goes into the catagen phase. During this phase the hair stops growing. Finally, the hair enters the final phase called the telogen phase or resting phase. During this phase the hairs lose their pigment and fall out. Hairs Around , Facial Hair , The Breast , Hairs Around , Unwanted Hair Growth , Unwanted Facial or Body Hair