Each hair grows in cycles?it grows, rests, and then falls out. Usually, this cycle repeats approximately yearly. At any time, about ninety percent of a person’s scalp hair is growing, a phase that lasts between two and six years. Ten percent of the scalp hair is in a resting phase that lasts between two and three months. At the end of its resting stage, the hair goes through a shedding phase.
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Shedding 50 to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. When a hair is shed, it is replaced by a new hair from the same follicle located just beneath the skin surface. Scalp hair grows about one-half inch a month.
Hair is made up of a form of protein, the same material that is found in fingernails and toenails. Everyone, regardless of age, should eat an adequate amount of protein to maintain normal hair production. Protein is found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, some cheese, dried beans, tofu, grains, and nuts.
Male pattern baldness occurs in a distinct way (and sometimes can affect women too). Hair may start Hair may start to disappear from the temples and the crown of the head at any time. For a few men this process starts as early as the later teenage years, but for most it happens in their late 20s and early 30s. A little thinning of the hair may be noticeable first, followed by wider hair loss allowing more of the scalp to become visible.
Some men aren’t troubled by this process at all. Others, however, suffer great emotional distress associated with a lack of self-confidence and sometimes depression.
Abnormal hair loss can be due to many different causes, but about 50 percent of the population experience normal hair loss by the time they reach 50. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out should consult a dermatologist.
By far the most common cause of hair loss in men is androgenetic alopecia, also referred to as “male pattern” or “common” baldness. It is caused by the effects of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on genetically susceptible scalp hair follicles. This sensitivity to DHT is present mainly in hair follicles that reside in the front, top, and crown of the scalp (rather than the back and sides) producing a characteristic and easily identifiable pattern described by Norwood (see Norwood Classification).
It is frequently stated that “hair loss comes from the mother’s side of the family.” The truth is that baldness can be inherited from either parent. However, recent research suggests that the reasons for hair loss and balding may be a bit more complex than originally thought. Factors on the x-chromosome have been shown to influence hair loss, making the inheritance from the maternal side of the family slightly more important than the paternal one (Markus Nothen, 2005).
The identification of an androgen receptor gene (AR) on the x-chromosome helps to explain why the hair loss pattern of a man resembles his maternal grandfather more often than his father. However, this is clearly not the whole story since a direct inheritance of baldness from the father is observed as well. An autosomal (non-sex) linked gene would explain this type of transmission – but this gene has not yet been found.
DHT is formed by the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase on testosterone, the hormone that causes sex characteristics in men. DHT causes male hair loss by shortening the growth, or anagen, phase of the hair cycle, causing miniaturization (decreased size) of the follicles, and producing progressively shorter, finer hairs. Eventually these hairs totally disappear.
In the patient below, we see a close-up of the side of his scalp where the hair is not affected by DHT. We see mostly groups of full thickness hairs (called terminal hairs) and a few scattered fine, vellus hairs. This is normal.
In the area of thinning (see circle below), we see that most of the hair has been miniaturized, although all of the hair is still present.
In the region that is balding (second circle in the center), there is extensive miniaturization and some, but not all of the hair has disappeared.
What this shows is that the initial appearance of balding is due to the progressive decrease in hair shaft size, rather than the actual loss of hair – in early hair loss, all the hair is still present. This is the reason why hair loss medications, such as finasteride (Propecia) work in early hair loss (since they are able to partly reverse the miniaturization process) but don’t work in areas that are totally bald. It is also the reason why men’s hair restoration surgery, if not planned properly, can result in hair loss due to the shedding of surrounding miniaturized hair.
Androgenetic hair loss is caused by three interdependent factors: genes, hormones, and age:
Other causes of hair loss, which may not follow this pattern, include:
•Under active thyroid
•Fungal scalp infection
•Some prescribed medicines
Other medical conditions that can produce diffuse hair loss in men include thyroid disease . Certain medications, including some drugs used for high blood pressure and depression, and the use of anabolic steroids, can also cause male hair loss.
How the problem can be solved:
If there’s a reversible cause, it’s normally possible to stop hair loss. For instance, if it’s caused by iron deficiency you can stop hair loss by replenishing the body’s iron stores.
A huge number of treatments have been tried to slow down and even reverse the process of male pattern hair loss – some are successful, others aren’t. But many men find their hair loss slows down or stops for no apparent reason at a certain age anyway.
It’s a good idea to ensure an illness isn’t responsible, particularly if the hair loss is patchy rather than being in the typical male pattern distribution. Moreover, if the hair loss is accompanied by other symptoms (such as tiredness) then blood tests may be necessary.
•Wigs, weaves and hair transplants are, obviously, the most direct form of treatment, while some advocate shaving or close cutting which simply makes the hair loss less obvious. Different hairstyles can create the appearance of a fuller head of hair, or a close shave cut can make baldness less apparent.
•Herbal preparations that contain zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and other substances in various combinations can help.
•Minoxidil is a lotion available from the pharmacist that you rub on to the scalp. It slows down the process of hair loss and can cause new hair growth but you have to keep on using it or it will stop being effective.
•Finasteride (Propecia) is the latest drug treatment. It comes in tablet form and works by slowing down hair loss; it’s also reported to cause new hair growth. In the UK it’s only available on private prescription from your GP and is only effective while you take it.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.