Hair Loss – The Facts
Hair loss, thinning, balding, alopecia, receding hairlines – these are things that are experienced by roughly 50% of people on the planet. When it comes to losing hair, there are currently a few different approaches to managing this extremely common type of condition in both men and women.
Before beginning, however, it is important to note that while hair loss can be extremely upsetting, and even traumatic, for many people who experience it, there is nothing wrong with losing hair, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being bothered by your hair loss as well. It is a natural occurrence, and some do not mind, however if it does bother you, as it does with most people, then there are many effective and proven ways to manage it efficiently.
To understand how to treat and manage hair loss, one must first understand what is happening. The most common form of hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia or genetic pattern baldness. This condition, and your particular pattern of hair loss, is basically pre-determined in your genetic make up. This means that if you possess the ‘hair loss gene’ it is inevitable that, at some stage in life, your pattern of loss will begin, and it will run it’s preordained course naturally, unless you intervene. There is no set age for this pattern to begin, it can start in the mid teens or may not activate until the later 40s and 50s. External factors, such as poor health, smoking, trauma to the hair or scalp etc, can in some ways accelerate the hair loss, but it is in essence an internal issue.
The Norwood Scale of male pattern hair loss.
Understanding Hair Loss
The main culprit responsible for androgenetic alopecia is a hormone called DHT or Dihydrotestosterone. This hormone is produced from testosterone in certain tissues in the body, and has some function in the development of certain characteristics in the early stages of growth, as well as in the normal regeneration and rest process for the hair, however DHT unfortunately has some negative effects on the body as well.
If you posses the gene for androgenetic alopecia, certain hair follicles on your head will contain receptors for DHT. In men, these are typically the follicles on the top of the scalp, you will generally see a similar pattern in most balding men of a receding hairline, a bald mid-scalp and/or an empty crown or vertex, with the hair around the back and sides of the head remaining. The specific pattern and severity of loss depends on the genetic pattern. Women tend to display a more diffuse effect of hair loss, with general thinning and loss of density.
When DHT binds to a receptor on a hair follicle it begins the hair loss process, starting with something known as ‘miniaturisation’ of the follicle. The blood supply to that follicle gradually shuts down over time, starving the hair of the blood, oxygen and the nutrients required to grow. The hair begins to get smaller over time, losing thickness in the shaft, rigidity and strength. This process also increases the telophase of the hair, which is the natural resting phase each hair will experience at periods of its lifetime.
By gradually increasing this resting phase in multiple follicles, less and less hairs are in the active growing phase at the same time, and the appearance of thinning and baldness increases. Eventually, the hair attacked by DHT will stop growing altogether, and this is your balding, thinning, receding etc. However, here is an important note: Depending on the severity of the hair loss, in many cases the hair follicle is not dead, it is simply in a dormant phase, and will not grow unless it receives a stimulus and the ingredients it needs again.