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Hi Ladies,

I just stumbled onto this website and, being an acne sufferer for many years with a misdiagnosis, I wanted to put my message up in the hopes this info might help someone that might have what I had: HIRSUTISM.

From an early age (12ish) I noticed that I had more hair on my arms and legs than my friends. By 14 I began to have moderate acne. It got progressively worse through the years. I began my period at 15 and they were usually painful. Sometimes I would even feel like I was going to pass out. My mother took me to a dermatologist after dermatologist about my acne. I would get the usual treatment of being given ointments, antibiotics, and the doctors would tell me not to pick or touch my face and back. Nothing helped. Throughout the years my complexion didn't help my self esteem at all.

Even though it seemed like a losing battle, I continued to buy water based foundations, used acne medications, and ate a well-balanced diet.

I moved to the big city of Houston when I was 21 and thought that those things called facials might somehow help. I made an appt. and had a nice facial. The lady that gave me my facial commented on how clean my skin was and I told her I usually gave myself at home facials several times a week. At the conclusion of my session she asked me to sit up so that she could massage my shoulders and back. I told her I didn't want her to do that because I was embarrassed about the acne on my back. She asked if she could look at it and I agreed. She asked to look at my toes and belly button. I reluctantly showed her. Not saying anything more to me, she said to get dressed and she'd meet me out front. I was out in the waiting area for a while before she came and had a chance to look at some of the products they had to sell. I had decided one or two might work well for me and had them in my hands ready to pay for. She came out and said "I'd love to sell you that but you don't need it." Although she was not a medical doctor, she said that she thought that the cause of my acne was medical, something called Hirsutism, which basically meant I had too many male hormones. I was embarrassed to listen to what she was telling me. I told her I had been to at least a dozen dermatologists over the last 8-9 years...why had no one mentioned this to me or bothered to test me. She did not know but she said that I needed to go to an Endocrinologist. I did. She was right.

Not only does Hirsutism affect your skin, but it can also prevent you from being able to conceive. I also lost 20 pounds and my friends said I looked like a new person. I was not moody anymore and laughed alot. I felt like a new person and had unbelievable energy. By day four I thought that my doctor must have prescribed some type of upper or narcotic and called my doctor. He said that it was not an upper but that my body was becoming accustomed to working and functioning like a normal person. That for the first time I was actually experiencing what it felt like to feel good. I believe that a normal woman's testosterone level is up to 200. (I'm not sure what the unit of measure is.) Mine was in the 800 range.

Within 2 weeks or so I had no more acne and within six months my blood tests were normal and he took me off all medication. I did not have not one single pimple for over a year. That was about 14 years ago.

I guess what I wanted to pass along to the ladies here if you have the symptoms of acne, hair on toes and around belly button, possibly bad cramps, and moodiness, you might have what I had. My doctor said he feels around 80% of the women that have Hirsutism never get treatment or know that they have it. The only thing I don't understand is why I was not diagnosed sooner.

Thank you.

[This message has been edited by Janet in Texas (edited 05-14-2003).]

[This message has been edited by Janet in Texas (edited 05-30-2003).]
I am sooo glad I came across this topic here! sorry for my long post!

I have suffered from acne since I was 12, I'm now 23. My entire face was always broken out and I got horrible cysts that would stay for over a year. I tried everything and nothing ever worked until I took accutane when I was 20. I took it for 4 months and my face stayed clear for about a year afterwards. Then the acne gradually came back, to the point where now the cysts are even coming back.

When searching for answers about the acne I came across info about having excess testosterone and was shocked to find that I have many of the symptoms.

I have excess body hair, the hair on my arms is about 3 times as dense as any of my friends and some of the hairs are way longer than they should be. I also have to pluck quite a bit of hair around my mouth and chin. I have hair on my chest, around my belly button, and on my toes and fingers as well. The hair has been getting worse lately and it is really upsetting me.

I've also always had irregular periods and do occassionaly miss periods. I tend to have problems with feeling very tired and sluggish too. Of course my family says I'm just lazy!

I went into a doctor last week to ask about getting my hormones checked and getting spiro to try. I'm a college student and have no medical insurance and basically no money. I have no choice but to go to the free doctors that my school provides us with. I've had nothing but bad experiences with these horrible free doctors but since I had no other choice I went to the female gyn there.

I was telling her about all my symptoms and told her what I thought was wrong and she seemed to just shrug it all off! I showed her the hair on my breasts and she said that thats normal and just comes with age!
I'm 23 years old! Is it really normal for a 23 year old to have coarse black hairs growing on her breasts?

I demanded that a blood test be done to check my testosterone and dhea-sulfate levels and she agreed but she said that those tests very rarely come back showing any problems. I had the impression that hormonal problems were quite common in women!

As for the acne, of course the first thing she said is accutane. I told her I already tried it and it didnt last and I dont want to take it again. She asked if I tried orthotricyclen and I told her I took for about 8 months and it didnt help at all. I just started taking yasmin about 3 weeks ago since I've heard so many good things about it. When I told her I started yasmin because I heard it works better than ortho she actually shook her head and rolled her eyes! What kind of doctor does that?

sorry for rambling on so long. I'm just so upset about all this! These symptoms are so upsetting. I'm sure all you women can understand how upsetting it is to have horrible acne and all this nasty hair. This doctor just totally brushed it off and said its normal. She didnt give me any advice or offer me any kind of treatment.

Do you think this doctor could be right? Should I just ignore these horrible humiliating symptoms? I'm convinced there MUST be something wrong, this cant possibly be normal!

I cant get the results of the blood test back until december 1st because of the holiday. I'm really hopeful that it shows my testosterone or dhea-s levels are too high, I just want an answer as to whats causing all this! And I want some kind of medication for it! I've decided that if the test shows my levels are normal and the doctor doesnt offer me any more help, I'm just going to buy spiro online and try it myself anyway. I cant afford to see any decent doctor. :(
this is really interesting-but i have few questions. one is-in what ethnicities is hirsutism normal?also, id like to know sweetjade, why you think diet has helped you so much as far as your hormornes are concerned-it seems strange that it cant be balanced by drugs. I also have similar symptoms, but I thought it was getting older. I have regular periods and all that, but I do have excess hair around the belly, alot on my toes, some on my chest/nipples, and now i get on the chin all the time-and Im not that old. I dont usually get cystic acne though, but Ive had moderate acne since I was about 14 or 15 and am now 29-and the hair stuff started happening four years ago.
Just wanted to post my own personal experiences with Hirsutism--I'm not sure if I have it, but I do have lots of hair on my arms, fingers, toes, and a little around my naval. (It's all very blonde, so it's not so bad, except my face--I remove that hair around once per week). I have had acne for at least ten years (I'm a 24 year old female), and my derm. had perscribed LOTS of antibiotics and creams over the years. After reading about spiro several years ago, I decided to request it. My derm gave it to me (100mgs per day) but I am unable to take that much because it REALLY dries out my contacts, and I can't see very well. After two years, the hair growth on my face lessened and gotten thinner. I haven't noticed a change in growth anywhere else. I also still have to take an antibiotic everyday so I don't get acne. I do have an irregular menstrual cycle, but I don't have a pear shape, and I am quite thin. In my case, I've never been diagnosed, but I believe the signs are pointing to hirsutism. So for any of you out there, you might want to ask your derm for it. Mine never suggested it even though I told him I had too much hair growing everywhere.
[QUOTE=SaabGirl]Just wanted to post my own personal experiences with Hirsutism--I'm not sure if I have it, but I do have lots of hair on my arms, fingers, toes, and a little around my naval. (It's all very blonde, so it's not so bad, except my face--I remove that hair around once per week). I have had acne for at least ten years (I'm a 24 year old female), and my derm. had perscribed LOTS of antibiotics and creams over the years. After reading about spiro several years ago, I decided to request it. My derm gave it to me (100mgs per day) but I am unable to take that much because it REALLY dries out my contacts, and I can't see very well. After two years, the hair growth on my face lessened and gotten thinner. I haven't noticed a change in growth anywhere else. I also still have to take an antibiotic everyday so I don't get acne. I do have an irregular menstrual cycle, but I don't have a pear shape, and I am quite thin. In my case, I've never been diagnosed, but I believe the signs are pointing to hirsutism. So for any of you out there, you might want to ask your derm for it. Mine never suggested it even though I told him I had too much hair growing everywhere.[/QUOTE]

Some call it hirsutism, but when you've got irregular menstrual cycles I'd call it something along the lines of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). BC wasn't effective enough, Spiro wasn't either right? For you own sake, you can not stay on antibiotics because in no way are they helping you deal with your other issues, not to mention they are probably making your acne and perhaps one day your immune & digestive systems worse.

Look up Insulin Resistance, PCOS, Syndrome O, etc. I consider myself to have the HAIR-AN variant (Hyperandrogenisim, Insulin Resistant, Acanothosis Nigricans) of PCOS or [B]Type A Insulin Resistance [/B] in which case the signs are "atypical" where usually the women are thin, hyperandrogenic, hirsute, acneic and also have androgenic alopecia. I have most of those signs, but not the "typical or classical" signs of Insulin Resistance, PCOS, or Type II Diabetes because I am NOT a diabetic (but type II runs in my family) nor do I experience any signs of menstrual irregularity, high cholesterol, etc.

Nonetheless, Type A IR can happen to younger women, such as ourselves (I'm nearing 25 but have had acne since I was 10). Say, did you start showing signs of puberty around the age of 8? This is known as precocious puberty and men and women that begin at such an early age are usually more at risk for developing metabolic disorders such as these. Eitherway, a dermatolgist is not the person to see about a pending hormonal imbalance. You should see an [B]Endocrinologist[/B], especially if you hope to have children one day because if you do have PCOS, it may prevent you from having children until you treat the cause of your problem. Some women wait until they find they can' have children and then visit an infertility doctor, but this is really more of a metabolic problem that an Endocrinologist (or a Reproductive Endocrinologist) can help you with. Of course there are other medications out there if you do have PCOS or IR, but you may also find success in exercising and changing your diet appropriately.

Best wishes!
[QUOTE=stasia12]this is really interesting-but i have few questions. one is-in what ethnicities is hirsutism normal?also, id like to know sweetjade, why you think diet has helped you so much as far as your hormornes are concerned-it seems strange that it cant be balanced by drugs. I also have similar symptoms, but I thought it was getting older. I have regular periods and all that, but I do have excess hair around the belly, alot on my toes, some on my chest/nipples, and now i get on the chin all the time-and Im not that old. I dont usually get cystic acne though, but Ive had moderate acne since I was about 14 or 15 and am now 29-and the hair stuff started happening four years ago.[/QUOTE]

OK, this is what I've heard about acne. That 90% of acne sufferers merely are just SENSITIVE to "regular" amounts of androgen hormones and the rest of us actually do produce too much hormones. Thus why most acne sufferers skin usually calms back down once puberty is over. The same rule also applies when it comes to treating hirsutism. Once you develop that secondary hair follicle, no matter how little androgens you produce, that hair follicle will respond to that amount of androgens. Therefore, the sooner one gets dx, the sooner they can get treated properly, and the more likely they can prevent the further development of unwanted hair.

I found out the hard way that not being on Spironolactone for 6 months after taking it for 6 years that I was only suppressing my hair follicles abilitity to respond to androgens because the Spiro was blocking the androgen receptor. I noticed that I started to develop facial hair and more hair on other areas so I went back on Spiro for a few months. I also did some other things to help suppress this (dabbling with various supplements) but because I have not been to a doctor or Endocrinologist in almost 2 years I stopped taking the spiro. I don't want to take a drug unless I can be monitored. So I haven't taken Spiro in at least 6 months and it's funny because the hair on my body and face isn't worsening. In fact it looks like some of it is falling out!

Those results may indeed be due to my diet. I know it's hard for you to understand why drugs wouldn't work and a diet would, but the key to understanding this is that [B]your diet supplies the nutrients neccessary for certain other enzymes, hormones, growth factors, and inflammatory products to exist[/B]. Therefore by altering your diet and physical activity, one can alter the amounts of the above products, and thus can control their acne and sometimes even a certain amount of hirsutism.

See, the medications work to either supress the amount of DHT you produce, to bind the amount of Free Testosterone (estrogen - BC, thyroid drugs, insulin sensitizing drugs/supplements) that's active, or to prevent the amount of androgens that bind to the androgen receptors. Yet IF you can find the right diet, you can do ALL of the same things! Therefore you can essentially take both medications, exercise, and follow the right dietary regimen if your problems are particularly stubborn, but some people have found that they do well just doing diet alone. However [B]when you only take the medications, and you continue to eat in a way that favors the above reactions, you are actually OPPOSING the job that your medication is meant to do[/B]. The wrong diet for your genetic & body type can actually be antagonistic to any medication or supplement that you use. Hence why, in most treatment protocols it not only mentions that you take the medication but to also watch your sugar or fat intake etc (depending on the disorder). Yet most people feel that some little pill, will solve their problems....not always.

In fact the best control I had over my hirstusim was one I was on Spiro AND my diet. This provided me the best combination because my diet reduces the amount of testosterone that I produce, it reduces the amount of free testosterone, which means it reduces the amount of androgens that will bind to the androgen receptor, thus it does reduce the amount of DHT I produce to some extent. However because I quite clearly still produce enough DHT for my hair follicles to respond to, this is where spiro comes in because it will block the androgen receptors, thus further reducing the amount of DHT I produce. Spiros job is dose dependent so the more the you take, the less DHT you will produce. Of course you want the most effective lowest dose and this can be 50mg for some women or 200mg for others. In my case regarding acne, I may have had to go on 300mg or more, because 200mg wasn't effective enough (100mg with diet works well for hirstusim though).

Now I want to mention something to you about fats, particularly trans fats. In fact this also applies to saturated fats as both this type and trans tats will ingrease your growth factor production. Growth factors are wonderful thing, but if you overproduce the wrong ones, well you've set up the prefect fertilizer for unwanted hair (and acne). See IGF-1 is used to help grow hair on our scalp, body, as well as any other type of cell and seems to be in abundance when it comes to dealing with tumors or cancer. Yet for this purpose, in excess and in the wrong place, hirsutim can result. Furthermore because of the prolonged presence of IGF-1 in the body, other growth factor or pro-inflammatory cytokines will present themselves that will further increase the growth of unwanted hair. What I discovered AFTER changing my diet was that I was consuming more trans fats (started eating microwavable popcorn more often and other gluten-free items) and this affected my pore size and at one point I thought it was giving me blackheads. Yet when I looked at the pores (on & around my nose area) those weren't black heads but were actual HAIRS!!!

This happened to 2 other people when they altered their diets and well for me the answer was no trans fats whatsoever. I don't care if that package says "no trans fats" or "0 trans fats" if the ingredients mention Partially Hydrogenated Oil (trans fat) or even Hydrogenated Oil (may have some partially hydrogenated oil) then I do not eat it. What I noticed was my enlarged pores shrank down to the smallest I've ever known them to be since before puberty and those hairs fell out! Not only that, but I noticed that the pores on my thighs and some of those hairs also shrank and fell out. So this MAY have been the reason I developed facial hair because not only does IGF-1 increase growth of cells, but it is also 10x more potent than insulin and can actually cal forth androgen hormones as well.

It's amazing the difference pore size can make. With enlarged pores I don't look as good, but with them smaller I seem like a different person. My face is smoother and more refined looking and I really like it. I personally don't avoid animal saturated fat, but I will say that most of my meat is lean and I don't usually eat fried foods. The only thing that I eat regularly fried would be the potato chips and they are cooked in sunflower oil. Yet I have noted that when I do eat other types of fried food that my pores get puffier but dont usually get larger. When I do get trans fats in my diet, it takes about 2 weeks to undo the damage done in terms of pore size and those hairs eventually fall out some time around then too.

Now I have not had my hormones checked in almost 2 years so I don't know how much Free Testosterone or DHEA I have in excess. My Testosterone and DHEA-S were within the normal ranges, but yes either DHEA or DHEA-S are elevated when dealing with hirsutism issues. However I do know that based on looking at abstracts and full texts journal articles that depending on one's disorder medication works, diet works more, and diet and exercise work even better. All of these can reduce your hormone production or activity, but again when it comes to hirsutism, you may need to take some sort of medication or supplement to further block DHT production/activity for the rest of your life....or go for laser treatment ;-)

Hope that helped some

P.S. I'm definately not growing out of acne. I can still eat sugar, HFCS and I will breakout. I can still consume trans fats and trigger enlarged pores and weird hair growth, etc. I have the power to cease 99% of my acne or activate 100% of it, but I think you know what I've chosen.
thanks, ive been skimming this post within the past hour. its been very informative. Im sorry for anyone who is or had went through this. Some dermotologists dont make things any easier either, like mine who i will be seeing this friday. i woudl like to switch from ortho tri to yamin, but i almost feel like i should request a hormone test b/c these are two very diff. pills and yasmin could make me go crazy. i have been on every topical and antibiotic, and that gives me a clue that this is hormonal acne b/c that other stuff eventually stops working for me. Last year i was having the same oilness and breakouts before period and he wanted to give me accutane! heck no. i also have an appt. with my gyno the monday after, so he may be able to do more than the dermo. but i wonder if i should tell the dermo "hey, i feel like im hairy for a girl (toes, belly, areolas, lower back) could my androgens be high?" he might think im trying to play doctor and get pissed. i feel like i have to though b/c he isnt thorough! im seriously in there for 10 min. my face is also super sensitive, so if i ever went on accutane i know my skin would fall off.





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