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Going bald

Young, full of energy and low on hair?

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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There are several different types of baldness, some of which can be temporary. However the most common form of baldness that men worry about is known as male pattern baldness. 95% of male hair loss is caused by this.

The fancy scientific term for male pattern baldness is androgenic alopecia. Bit of an unsexy mouthful eh?

Balding generally starts when a man is in his 20s or 30s. About 50% of men begin to lose their hair by the time they are 30, and 60% of men have lost hair by the time they are 60. It is a genetic condition, which means that you are born with the tendency to develop this type of baldness.

What causes it?

Basically male pattern baldness is caused by the male hormone testosterone converting to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on the glands of the scalp.

DHT then shrinks and reduces blood flow to the hair follicles. With reduced blood flow and shrinkage, hair can no longer re-grow. So it starts to fall out. First the hairline recedes back, followed by the hair on the top of the head.

The amount of DHT you produce and your sensitivity to it is controlled by your genes. It used to be thought that the genes for male pattern baldness came only from the mother’s side, but we now know that they come from both sides.

Trauma can cause temporary hair loss also i.e. car accidents or severe emotional upsets. However, this hair loss is usually temporary and does not start with receding along the hairline as in male pattern baldness. Rather, the hair falls out fairly evenly all over the head in such cases. This type of temporary hair loss can also be caused by an underactive or over active thyroid, nutrient deficiencies and hair pulling.

What can you do about it?

  • Use sprays and other concealing products. You can buy sprays that you use to cover receding areas. These are really only suitable for small areas, however.
  • Use Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto is a herb that was traditionally used for prostate disorders. It also seems to help slow down or to reduce hair loss and may even cause some regrowth. It seems to work by blocking the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. Do remember that even though it is an herb, it still has side effects. After all, many drugs come from herbs.
  • Have a hair transplant. This is a surgical method that involves transplanting follicles from other parts of the body to the scalp. It is generally pretty effective, but it is also very expensive.
  • Embrace it. Some people find hair loss very difficult and emotionally upsetting, while others do not feel this way at all. You might choose to embrace your hair loss and shave it all off. After all, there are plenty of sexy bald role models around, like Sean Connery. And the reality is, most men will eventually lose their hair.
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Published January 3rd, 2013
Last updated September 29th, 2015
Tags bald hair genetics
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