Hair Loss in Men - An Explanation
Hair Loss - An Explanation
For many men, hair loss is something that will have to be faced eventually as part of the natural aging process. Hair loss itself can be caused by a variety of contributing factors, however the two most common are: increased sensitivity to male sex hormones (androgens) in certain parts of the scalp and the second being genetic passed down through generations.
Male pattern baldness (also known as genetic hair loss or alopecia androgenetica) is the most common form of hair loss experienced by men. This condition develops very gradually and typically stems from the appearance of a bald spot on the crown of the scalp. About 25% of men begin losing hair before they reach 30 and two thirds before the age of 60, it is also not impossible for some men to experience hair loss in their late teens.
In the past such hair loss and resulting baldness was often seen and viewed as something undesirable and unfortunate. However, this attitude to hair loss has changed over the years and nowadays a clean shaven head is considered both attractive and fashionable. If however the changing attitudes of today’s modern society are not enough to persuade you otherwise, there is hope. The good news here is that common hair loss conditions such as those described above can be treated with affordable preventative hair loss treatments and products
Risk Of Suffering From Hair Loss And Balding
1. According to recent studies and statistics carried out by the British Medical Journal two thirds of all men will eventually be affected by hair loss and baldness in the UK, this means that 8.2 million men are experiencing hair loss at any one time.
2. If noticeable hair loss and balding run throughout the males in your family then you're more likely to suffer with the condition than those otherwise. The strongest influence is on the mother's side: if your maternal grandfather went bald, that's probably a better indicator that you will too than if your father's father lost his hair.
3. Racial differences can also play a part in the likelihood of a male getting male pattern baldness. The highest rates of baldness have been found to affect Caucasians followed closely by Afro-Caribbean’s. Japanese and Chinese men have been found to have some of the lowest rates of baldness and hair loss. Native Americans have been found not to suffer from some forms of hair loss at all - such as male pattern balding.
How The Hair Works
Before causes of hair loss and balding can be explained it is important to understand how hair grows in order to understand the possible hair loss and balding treatments that are available to you out there. Hair thickness is a combination of hair density and hair diameter. Hair itself is made up of three distinctive layers, these are:
The Cuticle: Made up of overlaid scales of keratin creating shine
The Medulla: The innermost layer of the hair
The Cortex: Under locking fibres which lay under the cuticle and give hair strength.
Hair grows in three phases these are:
Anogen: Growing Phase
Catogen: Shedding Phase
Telogen: Resting Phase
The average hair follicle will grow approximately 1.5cm a month for all men however what differs between men is the growing phase of their hair. Some hair stays in the anogen (growing phase) longer than others approximately 2 – 6 years, whilst some have a reduced anogen phase with a life expectancy of 2 – 4 months.
This is why men in the advanced stage of hair loss and balding have a short cropped appearance on top. This is because the hair follicles have been starved of blood flow and nutrients and have undergone miniaturisation to poor quality weak hair.
The next stage of understanding how hair works involves realising that hair follicles are in essence dead and so any products that claim to act on the hair to treat baldness and hair loss are purely for cosmetic purposes. It is in fact the roots that are the most import part of the hair and hold the key to hair loss and balding.
Hair follicle roots and scalp tissue require ample nutrients and blood flow in order to grow and stay healthy, this means therefore that certain conditions which restrict the blood flow to these areas and interfere with the nutrients this blood flow can contain can in fact create problems such as hair loss and balding.
Causes Of Hair Loss And Balding
As mentioned in the introduction there are a great number of variables that can cause hair loss and baldness in men. Those stated below are generally the most common and proven causes of hair loss.
1. Sensitivity to Male Sex Hormones (Androgenetic Alopecia)
This form of hair loss is most commonly referred to as male pattern baldness. This commonly begins with a slight recession at the front of the male hairline and is followed by obvious thinning on the crown of the head. Such hair loss is caused by a complex chemical reaction when the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts the testosterone in the system into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The hair follicles are genetically predisposed to be oversensitive to the DHT and therefore become smaller and smaller with time, leading to eventual hair loss.
2. Patchy Hair Loss (Alopecia Areata)
This type of hair loss is most commonly sudden and manifests itself in small, smooth-skinned patches that are likely to widen with time. It can also affect the sufferer’s nails, giving them a pitted, ridged or brittle appearance. If the hair loss progresses until the entire scalp hair is lost this is referred to as alopecia totalis.
Hair Loss and Balding Treatments
There are a number of tried and tested hair loss and balding treatments available to those unfortunate sufferers of hair loss and balding, these are:
This is a revolutionary new treatment for male pattern baldness which is licensed on the UK but only on private prescription, not on the NHS. It is classified as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. Since 5-alpha-reductase is the enzyme which causes the body to turn testosterone into DHT, inhibiting this with Finesteride should in theory stoop hair loss in its tracks.
2. Anti-androgen Therapy
Another counter measure to hair loss and balding is to directly block the actions and effects of DHT by using a variety of hormonal drugs. These should be applied under the supervision of an andocrinologist (hormone specialist).
3. Hair Transplant Surgery
Surgery offers the possibility of a longer-term solution to your hair loss problem. In the UK most hair surgeons use grafts which involve transferring skin from the hair-bearing area at the back of the head to the bald parts at the front, this hair will then grow and should counter any hair loss or balding.
If you suffer from hair loss and have a bald patch, you may want to consider shaving your head. Today a shaved head is considered very stylish and many women find it very attractive.
For more information on head shaving view our Head Shaving guide by clicking here.
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