The Bald Facts
Balding and hair loss are more common among men compared to women. The condition is also more noticeable among men. Balding among men usually happens as early as puberty stage or as late as in their fifties, and has psychological effects. These effects vary widely among individuals. Some individuals comfortably adapt to the change. Other individuals have a more difficult time adjusting. They begin to have severe problems such as anxiety, depression, social phobia and even identity change.Decades ago, there were no known treatments to slow down or stop the process of balding. But scientific advances claim to have helped provide breakthroughs on how to slow it down or reverse the process. As a result of these well-publicized breakthroughs, many companies successfully put up businesses in selling products that are supposedly effective in reversing baldness, re-growing hair, transplanting hair or even selling hairpieces. Given all these choices, it is always best to adopt a cautious attitude when selecting the type of treatment. Full understanding of why one is losing hair, and being familiar with the pros and cons before going for treatment should always take prerogative.
The most important knowledge and information about baldness are how and why an individual goes through the balding process as well as understand what the condition is. Baldness and hair loss primarily involve rapidly losing one’s hair. It is a condition when normal hair growth is abnormally slowed down and replaced by thinner, shorter hair follicles. This progressive loss of hair is generally called ‘common baldness’ or male-pattern baldness.
The most common condition of hair loss among men is the male-pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is normally inherited and those who lose their hair early, such as during puberty or early twenties stage, are more prone to extensive baldness. The outcome of this pattern is characteristically a receding hairline and even baldness on top of the head. As for women, they may develop the female-pattern baldness which results in the thinning of hair over their entire scalp.
In medical terms, the male-pattern baldness is commonly called androgenic alopecia which usually occurs in adult males. This type of hair loss is permanent and characteristically occurs on the scalp. This begins at the temples, then top of the head leading towards the back, resulting in a receding hairline or bald spot.
The nature of baldness and hair loss vary, usually ranging from male and female pattern alopecia. There are several patterns of alopecia (also called androgenetic alopecia or alopecia androgenetica), depending on its severity.
- Alopecia areata – this mainly involves some loss of hair (partial balding);
- Alopecia totalis – this pattern involves losing all head hair (total balding); and
- Alopecia universalis – this is the most extreme form of balding as this involves loss of all head and body hair.
Causes of Baldness
There are several causes of baldness and hair loss. Causes vary and are detailed below:
- Hormonal imbalance or changes (overactive or under-active thyroid gland) – this type of baldness may begin at any age after puberty and usually ranges from losing one’s hair partially or completely. Hair loss can be stopped once the hormonal imbalance is treated;
- Long-term hair-pulling – in medical terms, this baldness and hair loss is called traction alopecia. This is usually caused by specific hairstyles such as tight braids. This is reversible once the person affected stop pulling one’s hair;
- Heredity or other genetic factors – baldness may be a result of a certain gene which converts large quantities of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). The DHT hormone is destructive to hair follicles, causing damaged and shrunken hair. This cause of baldness is gradual and is irreversible during the latest stages;
- Serious illness or major surgery – hair loss usually results after about 3-4 months after recovery and is also related to the stress one experienced during the illness. This baldness is usually temporary; and
- Taking specific medications such as cancer chemotherapy, anticoagulants, (blood thinners), medicines for gout, antidepressants and even too much Vitamin A – baldness usually improves when one stops taking these medications.
Treatments for Baldness and Hair Loss
Various forms of baldness require different treatments. However, treatments have had a history of limited success, but the common male-pattern baldness has been undergoing a lot of progress. This type of baldness is now preventable and even reversible albeit to a certain extent. Available treatments now include:
- Clinically-proven medicines which can be applied topically or taken orally (comes in pills), to further prevent hair loss and baldness and to re-grow hair. This type of treatment is temporary as it is only effective as long as you continue to take these medications;
- New technology developments in cosmetic transplant surgery and in hair replacement systems such as stereoscopic follicular unit hair transplantation – this is a procedure involving hair transfers from other parts of the scalp which still have healthy hair. The hair follicles are transplanted by one follicular unit at a time with the aim of attaining the same hair growth pattern as that of healthy hair;
- If the cause of baldness is the medication one is currently taking, one’s doctor can prescribe a different type of medicine. If it is due to a hormonal imbalance, one can correct it, thereby preventing more hair loss or even stopping hair loss; and
- Cosmetic treatments – if the type of baldness cannot be treated adequately, one can try different hairstyles or wigs. A hairpiece can even be custom-made to cover a balding area or can be weaved whereby synthetic hair is sewn into one’s existing hair.
Being familiar with the basic facts about baldness and hair loss can significantly help in choosing which treatment best suits an individual. Understanding the cause of baldness and which treatment to undergo leads to being able to comfortably adapt to the change. The condition may vary from one individual to another, but the bottom-line is the solution regardless of who is affected – be it young men, old men, old women and people undergoing serious medication.