Hair loss, especially in men, is a chronic issue with no seeming end in sight. Although many factors play a role in male hair loss, the main factor is clearly genetics; men pass on the hair loss gene to their sons. It is estimated that 25% of men start to experience hair loss by the time they are age 30, and 2 out of 3 are losing hair by age 60. This can have an adverse effect on their psychology, causing them to feel older than they really are, and thus giving these men a bad self-image. However, in the past few years, the stigma of hair loss has to some extent been removed, thanks to many examples of baldness amongst celebrities and athletes.
In men, male-patterned baldness is the most common type of hair loss, occurring in over 95% of cases. In male-patterned baldness, men lose hair around the front hair line, and at the crown of the head. Eventually these two areas meet, and it leaves a ‘U’ looking pattern on the top of the head. One major cause of male-patterned baldness is increased levels of the sex hormone DHT, which leads to hair loss at elevated levels. There are several other causes of hair loss, including stress, nutritional deficiencies, pollutants in the environment, excessive brushing and styling of the hair, tightly pulled ponytails and cornrows, and a host of other factors.
Hair loss is not only limited to men, but women can also experience hair loss as well. Although it is not as common as in men, hair loss in women can be more damaging psychologically, since a woman’s attractiveness and femininity are closely tied to her hair. Women do not experience hair loss in the same manner as men: typically the hair line stays intact, but women experience thinning throughout the whole head. The cause of hair loss in women can differ from case to case, but some common reasons are hormone levels, use of certain medications like birth control pills, pregnancy, stress, and other conditions.
Although the reasons for hair loss are many, there are only a few options for diagnosis, treatment and living with hair loss. The first step in noticing hair loss is to listen to the advice of a stylist, since they will be the first person to notice hair loss in an individual. There are different tests for men and women that track the progress of hair loss, and they can be used to see if it is becoming more prominent. Recently, genetic testing for hair loss has been developed. This test screens the androgen gene on the X chromosome for possible variations that could hint towards hair loss in the future, so that steps can be taken to clinically treat hair loss early, when treatment is most effective. When used in consideration of other factors, genetic testing for hair loss can be promising. However, it is recommended that this effort be used in consultation with a medical professional. Options for living with hair loss are few: wear a hat, use a comb over to hide bald areas, try topical treatments or medications to grow hair back, or simply embrace the baldness.
Hair loss is an issue that affects many people in our society. However, it does not have to be a life-changing event, and however one handles the situation, it’s important to remember that life goes on, whether one is bald or not. There are many options for dealing with and treating hair loss, and as technology and medicine continue to advance, so will the options for this condition.