Getting random chin hairs can be perplexing. You likely wonder – why do these keep popping up, and what can I do about them?

Those Annoying Long Chin Hairs

You’re not alone if you’ve dealt with strangely long chin hairs. As we get older, they seem to sprout out of nowhere. Even celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell have shown off their lengthy chin hairs on TV – she once displayed one so long she could attach a bead to it! While not the most glamorous change, long chin hairs are a common reality many of us face over time.

Kudos to O’Donnell for being open, but I bet many of us can relate to those surprise chin hairs popping up out of nowhere. It’s only natural to ask yourself – why is this happening, and what can I do about it?

I talked to an endocrinologist and dermatologist to get the full scoop on what causes these pesky hairs and how to handle them. Keep reading for the explanations and advice straight from the experts.

It’s Your Changing Hormones

Dr. Ana Kausel, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Health System in NYC, explained that when women start growing thicker, darker hairs in a male-like pattern, it’s called hirsutism. As we go through menopause, our hormones begin to change. This shift can cause hairs to appear where there were none before.

All women have both estrogen and testosterone. But before menopause, we usually have more estrogen to balance out testosterone’s effects, explained Dr. Kausel. As we get older, the ratio changes. Estrogen levels drop off, but testosterone keeps getting produced. This imbalance allows testosterone’s impacts to become more noticeable – like spurring the growth of chin hairs.

Board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green also gave insight. She explained that androgens – hormones like testosterone – can activate follicles to grow thicker, longer terminal hairs. The kind you see in beards. As estrogen decreases with age, testosterone becomes more dominant. This androgen spike can trigger more facial hair growth in women.

Now, not all women sprout chin hairs as they age – your genes play a big role.

“Follicle sensitivity to androgens varies person to person,” Dr. Green explained. “You’re more prone to chin hairs if other women in your family get them too.”

Dr. Kausel said a few hairs are normal with age, but lots of growth warrants a doctor’s visit. They may run blood tests or an ultrasound to check for underlying issues.

What If You’re Younger With Chin Hairs?

Chin hairs definitely aren’t just an older woman thing. Plenty of younger women also deal with facial hair growth.

Dr. Kausel said that if you notice chin hairs before menopause, it could signal high androgen levels. These male hormones may be elevated due to conditions like PCOS, which commonly affects the ovaries. Less often, an issue with the adrenal glands causes excess androgens.

If you’re sprouting chin hairs and still in your reproductive years, she advises seeing your doctor. They can check for hormonal imbalances and figure out the cause.

PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common hormone disorder that doctors can treat. Dr. Kausel explained that with PCOS, cysts on the ovaries make too many androgens. This can disrupt normal menstrual cycles, ovulation, and fertility.

Other symptoms may also pop up from the excess androgens. We’re talking acne, hair loss, hirsutism – which is increased body hair growth. PCOS puts you at higher risk for weight gain, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes too. It impacts the whole body. But the good news is, there are ways to manage PCOS once diagnosed.

There’s also a genetic disorder called congenital adrenal hyperplasia that can show up later in life and spur facial hair, according to Dr. Green.

“Cushing’s disease is another condition that quickly increases hair growth,” she explained. “It’s caused by too much cortisol, the stress hormone. This boosts androgens.”

Other symptoms of Cushing’s include weight gain, headaches, and blood sugar problems.

The main takeaway: If you develop new facial hair before menopause – especially if it seems sudden – check in with your doctor. They can diagnose the cause and suggest treatment options. Don’t ignore those pesky hairs. Your doctor can get to the bottom of what’s going on.

What to do about Hair on your Chin Hair

Some people rock their chin hairs like O’Donnell did. But if you’d rather get rid of those stray strands, the good news is you’ve got options, according to Dr. Green.

“The laser emits a special wavelength that targets the pigment in hair follicles called melanin,” she explained. “Thanks to recent tech advances, lasers can now safely treat all skin tones and hair colors – except gray and white. Those lack the melanin that lasers need to detect the hairs.”

“With electrolysis, an electric current is sent to the base of each follicle. This destroys the root so hair can’t grow back,” she explained.

Dr. Green mentioned that a doctor may prescribe anti-androgenic medication, like spironolactone, to treat excessive facial hair growth. This type of medicine blocks excess androgens, preventing more strands from sprouting up on the chin or other unusual areas.

Over-the-counter hair removal creams are an at-home option, Dr. Green mentioned. But she cautions they can irritate or even burn if used incorrectly. Prescription eflornithine creams specifically reduce hair growth and work better for small target areas like the chin.

And although the temptation strikes, avoid plucking chin hairs with tweezers! “Tweezing can damage skin and cause ingrown hairs and infection,” she warned.

While surprising at first, new long chin hairs are usually harmless. If they really bother you, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about removal options. There are many ways to deal with unwanted strands, so you don’t have to just live with them.

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