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 You are here: Baldness

Image of a balding man
PLEASE NOTE: The information given on this site is for general information only. It should not be considered as medical advice. As with all physical and medical conditions you should always consult your doctor or health care professional.



In this section you'll be able to find out prettymuch everything you ever wanted to know about Baldness. The WHY's, the WHEN's, the IF's and the BUT's.

WOMEN AND HAIR LOSS

Thinning hair and excessive hair loss can no longer be treated as exclusively a “male only” club. As women's life styles begin to resemble men's with work type stress and anxieties surfacing, hair problems are becoming more prevalent in women. In addition to the physical and chemical trauma that women's hair is subjected to, biological changes can have a detrimental effect on hair and scalp. The Menopause is often accompanied by hair loss. This may be alleviated by prescribed hormone treatments. However, it is generally inevitable that some hair thinning will occur in women between the ages of 45 to 55.

MALE PATTERN BALDNESS

The most common form of partial hair loss to the crown is (M P B), male pattern baldness. It is a particular type of hair loss that occurring mostly in males and is influenced by a combination of age, genetic and hormonal factors.

Causes

If a man has genetic predisposition to M P B, actual hair loss depends on his age and the male sex hormone (Androgens). In M P B the hormone that influences hair loss is (D H T), Dihydrotestosterone. Some hair follicles have genetically programmed receptor sites for D H T which bind with the hormone and atrophy. Thus the major cause of M P B is an increase in the concentration of Dihydrotestosterone which act to shut down the hair follicles.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

A woman's hair, they say, is her crowning glory. But that glory can seem hollow for the Circ. 20 million women who suffer from hair loss.

Relax: natural measures can be taken to fight hair loss. By caring for your hair both inside and out, you can sing a happy tune about your magnificent mane.
Heredity plays a large role in hair loss. In fact, researchers have actually identified a gene associated with hair loss. But that doesn't mean you necessarily have to resign yourself to ever diminishing hair.

The Follicle

The root of hair loss starts with hair follicles, the tiny spots from which all hairs grow. Each follicle comes equipped with a capillary that furnishes nutrients and oxygen carried by blood, a muscle that allows the hair to stand erect, (Goosebumps result when they contract), and a gland that produces sebum, the oil that protects and lubricates the hair shaft.

As a hair grows, the old hair moves up the inside of the follicle, leaving behind a column of cells that will form a new strand of hair, explains Virginia Castleton, author of The Handbook of Natural Beauty (Rodale Press). In a continuous cycle, hairs grow, rest and fall out, leaving new hairs in their place. As long as this process proceeds apace, your full head of hair continues to satisfy.

However, when old hair leaves the follicle without depositing new cells, it will not be replaced, and a thinning or balding process begins.

Losing It

Hair can depart for many reasons. Illnesses and certain drugs can cause hair to fall out. (For that reason, excessive hair loss should always be brought to the attention of a health practitioner.)

In some cases, the immune system attacks the hair for unknown reasons, causing small patches of hair loss known as Alopecia Areata. Another type of hair loss, Telogen Effluvium, can occur after such major traumas as prolonged high fevers or serious infections, or after sudden hormonal changes, particularly in new mothers.

The best-known form of hair loss is, of course, Male Pattern Paldness, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia. Resulting in the familiar bald­on­top, fringe­on­sides appearance, Male Pattern Baldness is linked to genetics and hormones.

Ladies' Losses

Not as well known but just as distressing is (F P B), Female Pattern Baldness, marked by “a moderate loss of hair on the crown of the head or at the hairline”, says Jonathan Phillips, author of Hair Loss No More.

“It is rare for women to develop completely bald areas as men often do”, he adds.

Phillips says that women lose hair for many reasons, including Anaemi, prolonged emotional stress and Thyroid problems.

Another cause of thinning female hair is harsh treatments such as overly tight braids.

Shed Pounds, Shed Hair?

Your diet may also affect your 'Tresses'. Vegetarians, if they neglect to consume enough protein, can find their hair going down the drain, “especially when they first switch to a meat-free diet”, according to Phillips. “The culprit is usually a lack of protein in the body. When they increase the amount of non-animal protein, soy products, for instance, in their diets, hair loss stops and often reverses itself”.

Dieters who restrict calories can also experience hair loss. “Hair loss in women is often associated with crash dieting. Nutritional deficiencies are often the culprit” says Phillips.

Free­Radical Attack

Poor diet, aided and abetted by smoking and air pollution, impinges on hair health by activating free radicals, miscreant molecules that can attack cells, including the cells that make new hair.

What's more, “fasting or an incorrect diet often results in a shortage of vitamin C, vitamin E, Beta Carotene and other antioxidants, leading to hair loss”, Phillips says. These antioxidants can fend off free­radical damage.

Eating for Hair Health

Because of the way nutrition affects hair growth, the first step in hanging onto your hair involves improving what's on your plate. Phillips recommends fruits and vegetables for their vitamins, minerals and all-important antioxidants. Vegetables, fish and poultry supply needed protein, as does the legume family: “chickpeas, lentils (and) soybeans are also rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants”.

Living in Hair­Friendly Style

Getting active is vital to retaining hair. Phillips suggests that instead of overdoing exercise, you stick with moderate physical activity, which helps circulate nutrient-rich blood to your scalp. Exercise also helps ease stress: “The body shuts down production of hair during periods of stress”. Meditation helps many folks unwind, as does yoga.

Hair Care the Correct Way

When you wash your hair, avoid harsh shampoos and conditioners. Overly of alkaline products “causes the hair to become stiff and brittle, and promotes the illusion of extra hair volume”, says Phillips.

Frizzy, tangled Tresses signal hair that's too dry. Less shampoo and more conditioner are called for. Products that contain B vitamins, Aloe Vera and essential oils, such as Jojoba and Evening Primrose, can help moisturize your hair.

Conversely, hair that gets greasy within a day after being washed is too oily. Gentle shampoos and herbal rinses are called for; look for products that contain Amino Acids mixed with Saponins, peppermint and non­colouring Henna.

How you shampoo is almost as important as what you use. “The correct shampooing procedure should take at least five minutes”, says Phillips. "A good shampoo should be conducted with firm massaging technique”.

Be nice to your hair during drying. Phillips recommends, “letting the towel soak up the moisture rather than vigorous towelling. If using a hair dryer, always makes sure that you use the cold­medium setting and not the hot setting”.

Oriental Medicine - A Different View of Hair Loss

While modern Western medicine hunts for specific causes of such specific ills as hair loss, Oriental medicine, a rubric that includes India's Ayurveda and Japan's Kampo, along with Traditional Chinese Medicine treats patterns of complaints in accordance with a holistic view of the body and its functions.

Kampo, for example, sees hair loss “in terms of bottling up emotional energies in the liver”, according to Robert Rister, author of Japanese Herbal Medicine (Avery/Putnam). The liver, in this perspective, isn't the physical liver recognised by western medicine but represents a set of functions, including the regulation of emotional energy. Rister says that when this energy can't circulate properly, “the hair becomes lifeless and dull.” And if the kidney's primal energies were also blocked, “the hair falls out”.

Nowadays, the ancient concepts of Oriental medicine have been married to modern science, resulting in hair­support breakthroughs designed for today's active lifestyles.

AT A LOSS ABOUT HAIR LOSS?

Do you feel that you are the only one losing hair? I assure you, you're not! The most common form of hair loss, Androgentic Alopecia, or pattern baldness, is experiences by 50-80% of Caucasian men. The number of Chinese males affected are half of the Caucasian counterparts while African Americans have a lower incidence of the condition as well. For women Androgenetic Alopecia occurs between 20-40% of the general female population. In summary, it is safe to say that pattern baldness is experienced by the norm of the population, you're not alone, but actually in the majority.

Androgenic Alopecia develops when the hair follicle (the place under the skin where hair grows from) experiences a reduction in size, as well as a time reduction in the active growth phase. This translates into a simple fact: that more and more of the hair follicles will spend time in the resting state where hair is shed once the state is completed. Fortunately, Androgenic Alopecia does not develop in all hair follicles at the same time. This is why some part of the scalp seems to be losing more hair than the other.

What causes Aandrogenic Alopecia? As boys grow up, their hair follicles are exposed to Androgen (any hormone that controls the appearance and development of masculine characteristics) that their body has synthesized. Once hair follicles are exposed to Androgen) they become “Androgen sensitive” and Androgenenitic Alopceia can develop in time. Stopping the hair follicles from interacting with Androgens seems to prohibit any chance of Androgenetic Alopecia development.

To put it in a more detailed explanation there are two types of Androgen that need to be considered: Testosterone and D H T (Dihydrotestosterone.) An Enzyme called 5­Alpha­Reductase converts Testosterone to D H T. Once D H T is formed, it has the ability to bind to any Androgen receptor in hair follicle. This binding reduces follicle activity, shrinks the hair follicle, which in turn slows the hair growth cycle, reduces the diameter of the hair shaft and over time hair growth ceases.

For females, the mechanism of the condition is similar to that of the males. The source of the Androgen is the combined activity of the Ovaries and the Adrenal glands. Hair loss in women can at times be directly related to pregnancy or menopause and their effects.

Why do some people seem to have more extensive hair loss than others? Recent research suggest that the answer has something to do with the differences in the concentration of 5­Alpha­Reductase in skin and hair follicles of people who have Androgenetic Alopecia. It is possible that some people just produce more of this enzyme than others, which in turn converts more Testosterone to D H T, which will result in greater hair loss. Also, some people just develop greater sensitivity of Androgen receptors in their hair follicles. This means that a certain concentration in others with less sensitive Androgen receptors in the follicles.

1. Male

It is true that Androgenetic Alopecia is the most common hair loss suffered by males. However, there are other causes of hair loss that you need to be aware of:

Alopecia Aretea - Autoimmune disorder that will cause “patchy hair loss”, often in small circular area in different areas of the scalp.
Alopecia Totalis - total hair loss of the scalp, This is an advanced form of Alopecia
Alopecia Universalis - hair loss of from entire body, also an advanced form of Alopecia
Traction Alopecia - hair loss caused by physical stress to hair such as prolonged use of hair weaving
Anagen Effluvium - hair loss attributed to toxic substances internally administered. A good example would be Chemotherapy agents.

All of these only represent 5% of the hair loss found in general male population; Androgenetic Alopecia is the norm.

If you experience Androgenetic Alopecia, more likely than not your hair loss will be limited to the top of the head and may or may not involve thinning and/or receding hair lines.

2. Female

It is probably the best kept that secret: hair loss in females is a common thing. As mentioned above, the most common type of hair loss for women is Androgenetic Alopecia, The female pattern baldness is seen as hair thinning predominantly over the top and sides of the head. Androgenetic Alopecia in women is most commonly seen after menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. How can you be sure that you're not actually experiencing hair loss? Normal hair falls out at approximately 100 to 125 strands per day; true hair loss occurs when the loss is not replaced or when the daily hair shed exceeds 125.

Sudden hormonal changes when starting or stopping contraceptives, starting or ending a pregnancy, the start of menopause, all has been characterized as the promoter of Androgenetic Alopecia. The two key events in a life of a woman might promote this onset; pregnancy and menopause. WHY? Simply because menopause causes permanent changes in hormone production, the Adrenal glands also undergo changes during menopause. The overall result is a reduction of “Androgen Antagonist” such as Oestrogen and a net increase in Androgen; as we have elaborated before, Androgen is directly responsible in hair loss.

Physical and emotional stress might cause hair loss since body is recuperating from an overwhelming turmoil and simply shuts down hair production, thinking that it is not necessary for the body's survival, thereby contributing all energy toward repairing vital body parts. There can be up to three months delay between the major incidence and the actual hair loss. Moreover, there is also period of three months before the lost hair is replaced. This then means there can be a total minimum of 6 months for the total hair loss and regrowth cycle to complete. Of course there are things that might contribute to hair loss such as Anaemia, low blood count, and Thyroid abnormalities.

Chemotherapy agents are basically poisonous chemicals administered to kill Cancer cells. Unfortunately, they kill more than just cancer cells: they hurt healthy cells as well, including hair cells. Usually the patient loses a huge amount of hair during treatment and there are few successful hair growth stimulants, i.e. shampoos or conditioners cannot reverse the effects. The good news is that once chemotherapy is completed, hair usually grows back. Adequate hair growth may take anywhere from 6 - 12 months.




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