Everyone is aware of hair loss and the effects it has on your appearance. Known by the clinical term alopecia, balding occurs when hair stops growing, and eventually falls out. Over time the loss becomes apparent and can result in full or partial baldness. So what causes hair loss and how to stop it? Hair is made up of keratin, a protein that is produced by the hair follicles inside the outside layer of the skin. When the follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are pushed out through the surface of the skin. Unfortunately, as the body ages, the rate of hair growth slows. Apart from age, a number of other factors can result in loss of hair, and the phenomena affect many men and women alike. Scientists study the origins of hair loss in hopes of one day discovering a cure. Until that time, medical science has developed a number of treatments for baldness.
The Facts on Alopecia
People often have a stereotypical image of baldness as a man with a receding hairline. Alopecia can actually affect anyone, from women and children to the common stereotype male balding. Balding doesn’t have to occur just on the top of the scalp, either. Many times genetic factors come to play a major role in hair loss. Balding can also result from other variables. In fact, some forms of hair loss can come from hormonal changes, medical conditions, and medications. While some may experience thinning in their hair or patchy areas, others can experience excessive loss leading to full baldness.
VIDEO: What Causes Hair Loss?
- Androgenic alopecia –This genetic condition most commonly causes baldness. Also known as hereditary hair loss, it can affect both men (male pattern baldness) and women (female pattern baldness).
- Alopecia areata: –This condition is when your own immune system attacks your hair follicles. It is called Alopecia Totalis when all head hair is affected and Alopecia Universalis when all body hair falls out, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair.
- Trichotillomania –This condition results from a psychological disorder, where a person pulls out his or her own hair. It most often afflicts children.
- Scarring alopecia – Certain conditions and disorders cause scarring, which destroys the ability to re-grow hair, resulting in permanent loss of hair.
- i. Inflammatory skin conditions (cellulitis, folliculitis, acne) and
- ii. Other skin disorders (some forms of lupus and lichen planus). Additionally, using hot combs and having hair too tightly woven or pulled can result in permanent loss of hair
- Traction Alopecia –This condition causes gradual loss resulting from a pulling force applied to the hair. It is most common among African American women and those who choose to wear their hair in tight ponytails, pigtails, or braids.
Hereditary hair loss with age is the most common cause of baldness. According to The American Association of Dermatology, 80 million men and women in the United States suffer from hereditary hair loss. Parents pass this genetic condition down to their children via the X chromosome. Though a result of the same genetic cause, hereditary hair loss can affect men and women in very different ways.
Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness (MPB) most often starts with recession at the hairline and temple points Thinning continues at the vertex, or crown, of the scalp. Those with the hereditary mark of male pattern baldness usually have some form of warning sign through their own family history. That said, a family history of baldness doesn’t always guarantee or negate whether its inevitability. Unfortunately for men, male baldness can start as early as their 20s.
For men, MPB begins when their testosterone mixes with the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase to create Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). While every human scalp contains the hormone DHT, those with genetically weak androgen receptors (active hair follicles) suffer most from the loss of hair. DHT miniaturizes the subject follicles until they completely disappear.
Doctors hope to one day develop a male pattern baldness cure, as genetic hair loss continues to plague men on a wide scale. According to The American Health Journal, MPB causes 95 percent of baldness in men. Hair loss can range from a dispersed thinning to severe balding. Of approximately 40 million men in the United States suffering from some degree of alopecia, two-thirds of them will suffer from male pattern baldness by the age of 35. By the age of 50, MPB will affect over 85 percent of men with hereditary hair loss.
Hair Loss in Women
Hereditary hair loss in women, or female pattern baldness (FPB), has less of a correlation to genetics and has more to do with aging, as well as hormonal changes. However, it is permanent in women just as it is in men. Although hereditary doesn’t play as much of a role, in female pattern baldness, the mechanism for both men and women are the same. The hormone DHT also miniaturizes the hair follicles as they weaken in women. Some women can experience extensive baldness, while others see thinning in their overall hair. Signs of alopecia will begin to appear along the hair part in women.
More often, certain hairstyles and a repeated regular use of tight ponytails, braids, or weaves can be a major contributor to any random hair loss. Women are also more likely to experience temporary outlying causes of baldness from lifestyle and environmental variables.
Apart from androgenic patterned hair loss in women, other often treatable reasons can also include:
- Sleep Deprivation
- Severe Stress
- Iron or Folic Acid Deficiency
- Poor Circulation
- Hormone Imbalance
- Telogen Effluvium
- Untreated Hypothyroidism
- Drug Use
No matter whom alopecia affects, it can become a source of stress and embarrassment. Fortunately, doctors now have hair restoration options available for those looking to conceal baldness.
Hair Loss Treatments
Depending on the type of hair loss, patients have a variety of different hair restoration treatments available.
Temporary nonsurgical methods: For those looking for a quick fix, hair loss concealers, hairpieces or toupee, and scalp micropigmentation can offer a temporary camouflage. Unfortunately, these options are only effective when used on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, they usually don’t offer natural-looking results.
Hair Loss Medications: There are two FDA approved medications for treating or slowing thinning hair which includes Rogaine (Topical Minoxidil) and Propecia (Finasteride) have shown efficacy in preventing loss of hair, they often do little to regrow hair.
Hair Transplantation: Hair transplant entails surgically transferring hair from one area to a balding location
A number have people have begun to seek surgical treatment for alopecia, regardless of the extent of their baldness. Doctors have a variety of procedures at their disposal. These include:
Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS): FUSS procedures involve taking an elliptical strip of hair from the back or sides of the head, a surgeon splits the strip into smaller follicle grafts and then places them in the recipient area. Not all people suffering from hair loss qualify for this method. Furthermore, it can have extreme complications including heavy scarring and a deformed, unnatural look to the hair.
Basic Follicular Unit Extraction (Basic FUE): FUE uses a specialized instrument to cut around individual hair follicles, which is taken solely from the back or sides of the scalp. Like FUSS, Basic FUE can lead to scarring, and not all patients qualify. Limiting the donor pool to just the head severely limits the potential for this surgery.
Dr.UGraft Advanced FUE: An advanced FUE system using head and body hair transplantation as a way to expand the available donor source. Doctors have actually begun to recognize advanced FUE as the most effective way to treat hair loss. Dr. Sanusi Umar’s revolutionary Dr.UGraft Advanced FUE system has provided results for hundreds of patients. The system marks a breakthrough in hair transplant, as it utilizes scalp and body hair in transplantation for a long-term hair restoration. The Dr.UGraft™ Intelligent hair punch service has shown great results as a male pattern baldness treatment.
VIDEO on Various Hair Loss Treatments and Preventative Measures
Men and women who have suffered hair loss often experience devastating blows to their self-image. Patients who seek a solution in hairpieces or hair concealers often also experience embarrassment or anxiety over how natural the concealment looks as well.
Fortunately, for anyone suffering from hair loss, modern medicine has a solution. Advanced FUE hair transplant procedures with the Dr.UGraft™ Hair Transplant System can restore hair to the head, eyebrows or eyelashes without the risk of complication. The Dr.UGraft™ System, featuring the Intelligent Punch (Dr.UPunch i™), is capable of extracting hair from all over the body to create the most natural look possible. With Dr.UGraft™, even patients suffering from severe baldness can regain a full head of thick, natural-looking hair that grows. Whereas other methods of hair loss treatment can result in a pluggy, unnatural look, Dr.UGraft™ uses hair of varying thickness and density to accent facial features and restore hair.
Nobody asks to suffer the humiliation of hair balding. Now, science has a solution for even the most extreme cases!
Frequently Asked Questions On Hair Loss:
What is hair thinning?
Hair thinning refers to a loss of hair density within a given region of the head. In male pattern thinning, for example, the loss of hair might not result in total baldness in a given area. Instead, the hair appears to “thin” because only some hair will fall out, while other follicles continue to grow. This makes the scalp more visible and presents an obvious symptom of hair loss.
Can causes of female hair loss like traction alopecia also cause baldness in men?
Yes. Men can also experience hair loss as a result of traction alopecia like keeping hair in tight braids or as a result of other follicular damage from using harsh chemicals like hair bleach or alcohol-based products on the scalp. Baldness can present itself in patterns similar to those common in women or compound the results of other hair loss causes like male pattern baldness.
Do doctors know how to stop hair loss? Are any of the hair loss treatments mentioned here a hair loss cure?
While hair loss treatments address symptoms of baldness, they do not cure the underlying causes of balding like genetic predisposition or traction alopecia. Unfortunately, medical science has yet to develop a true hair loss cure that will address and prevent all causes of balding. Doctors hope one day to learn how to stop male pattern baldness, as well as other ways of losing hair. Until a time when one is developed, doctors can offer treatments like hair loss medications, hair transplant surgeries or scalp micropigmentation to treat the symptoms of baldness.
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