Treating hair loss and even reversing it is possible.
Facing hair loss (or alopecia) can be an upsetting prospect. But treating hair loss and even reversing it is possible.The first step is determining the cause for the hair loss in the first place.
Common reasons for hair loss include:
- Prolonged illness or a long recovery from surgery can facilitate hair loss. In this case, hair often grows back on its own. Sometimes hair loss is an early sign of infection or disease, such as a fungal scalp infection or lupus, where medication can reverse hair loss.
- On the other hand, some medicines cause hair loss as well, including blood thinners, medicines used in chemotherapy, and antidepressants.
- Improper hair care is a common cause cause of hair loss. Styles or implements that pull the hair too tightly―pony tail holders, braids or cornrows, rollers, etc.―can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. In addition, chemical treatments used in permanents, relaxers, and dyes may cause inflammation or swelling of the hair follicle, which in turn can result in scarring and hair loss.
Hair loss caused by illness, medicines and misuse may be temporary if action is taken. If you suspect your hair loss is associated with some physical difficulty, consult your doctor early. If hair loss is due to overtight- or chemically-enhanced hair styles, the hair usually can grow back normally if the strain is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops.
However, hereditary, or inherited, hair loss is permanent without treatment. Male-pattern baldness, the most common cause for hair loss in men, is inherited. Hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the crown of the head.
As a first step in treating hair loss, you may want to consult your physician. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your diet, any medicines you’re taking, whether you’ve had a recent illness and how you take care of your hair. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed.
Hereditary Hair Loss (Male Pattern Baldness)
The most common cause of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). This is an inherited condition that occurs when male hormones, or androgens, are present. Testosterone is one androgen and it is needed for normal sexual development. The body converts testosterone into another androgen called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is what promotes functions like beard growth. Unfortunately, it is also DHT that changes proteins in the hair follicle so it will no longer produce hair.
You do not have to have a “extra” amount of DHT to experience heredity hair loss. In fact, many men dealing with male pattern baldness have a normal amount. It is just not completely known yet why some men bald and others do not―no specific “baldness gene” has yet been identified in humans.
The onset, rate, and severity of hair loss are unpredictable. However, it is clear that the severity increases with age and if male pattern baldness is present, it will absolutely will continue to spread.
Male pattern baldness characteristically appears after the onset of puberty and peaks in the twenty-one to forty-five age group. Generally speaking, it can be expected to occur in 25% of men aged 25-30 years, in 40% of men aged 40, and in 50% of men 50 years old or older.
Some lose their hair quite quickly, but the average man takes 15 to 20 years to go bald. Studies have shown that African-American, Hispanic and Native American men are a lot less likely to bald prematurely and may also have a lower rate and extent of baldness.
Male pattern baldness is treatable by several methods.
Symptoms of Male Pattern Baldness
The onset of hereditary hair loss is gradual. However, there are several signs that can give you some indication that you may be experiencing it.
Almost all men with hereditary hair loss see the onset prior to age 40 years. In fact, many men and women with this type of loss even show evidence of the disorder by age 30 years.
Area of Hair Loss
Men typically experience hair loss in one of two places, or both. The first area is a at the hair line. Gradual thinning may occur above the forehead and at the temples. Keep in mind, this type of hair loss is seen in almost all men, including those not destined to progress to further hair loss. However, those men with male pattern baldness will notice this hair loss moving backward in an “M” pattern.
The second area is the crown, or vertex, of the scalp. Hair loss here is usually a symptom of male pattern baldness. Over time, the frontal and vertex hair loss patterns may enlarge until they merge.
In some men, the progression of male-pattern baldness may halt temporarily at any stage, giving the false impression that hair loss has ceased.
As hereditary hair loss progresses, the hairs themselves change in the balding areas. This change is called hair follicle miniaturization. Your normal hair size appears thinner and the hairs don’t grow as long as they used to. These thinner hairs are also much more subject to breakage with the daily trauma of brushing, combing and washing. The hair shafts usually become progressively smaller in diameter and length, becoming “peach fuzz” (vellus hair). The last stage is when the hair follicle ceases to grow at all.
While male pattern baldness is known to have hereditary factors, no specific “baldness gene” has yet been identified. Even in families with many bald males, inheritance patterns are unpredictable. No one can tell you with certainty when male-pattern hair loss may begin, no matter how many of your close male relatives are bald or balding.
Furthermore, there is a common myth that inheritance is only from the mother’s side. This is not true. The gene can be inherited from the mother or father’s side.
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Caring For Your Hair If Your Are Experiencing Hair Loss
A very important step in dealing with hair loss is being gentle when caring for your hair. Your daily regime should include proper cleaning and careful styling of your hair.
African hair tends to be dryer and prone to more breakage because its coiled structure makes it more difficult for the oils to work their way from the scalp to the ends of the hair. And the points where the hair curls and twists are also points where the hair tends to break. The more of these points (as in African hair), the more the hair is prone to breakage. Also, because our hair is kinky, it tends to tangle more and pulling these tangles out can cause breakage.
“Hair thickening” shampoos do a good job making hair look fuller by coating each strand of hair with a layer of protein each time you use it. Actually any shampoo containing proteins, keratin and amino acids will adhere to the hair shaft to fill in the cracks in weakened hairs , thus strengthening and protecting your hair. Moisturizing shampoos are also a good choice. And Panthenol―vitamin B5―unlike most vitamins, does penetrate hair and is essential for strength and healthy growth.
Avoid shampoos with balsam (stiffens hair) or mild shampoos, like a baby shampoo (makes hair flyaway or fuzzy).
Everyone’s hair is different and choosing the correct shampoo and conditioner for your hair can be a matter of trying different brands until you find one that suits your own hair type.
When washing your hair, gently massage your head using only the pads of your fingertips (not your nails) beginning at the nape of the neck. Gently rotate your scalp (not your hair) with circular movements, traveling towards the crown of your head. Do this in a slow gentle fashion for a couple of minutes. Next, move towards your hairline using your thumbs to move over your ears towards the temples. Take your time and relax and enjoy your shampooing ritual. You will feel the benefit after you have finished.
Use a conditioner after every wash as it smoothes the hair and seals it against damage from the environment. After washing and conditioning, rinse your hair well, then pat your hair dry with a towel as opposed to rubbing it with the towel.
First, use good styling tools. Your comb should have rounded teeth with no rough edges. A wide tooth comb is best.
Your brush should be made from a good natural bristle. The bristles can be firm (but flexible) but should have rounded ends to prevent damage. If you use a brush with ball tips on the end of the bristles make sure the ball is molded onto the tips, not glued. It is best not to use brushes to untangle wet hair after shampooing. A good boar bristle brush is ideal.
Every time you wash your hair, wash your brush and comb, and make sure everyone in the household has their own brush and comb.
Definitely avoid blow-drying or chemical processing.
Make friends with your barber and make sure he understands your hair and your style of haircut. Tell them about your worries, they should be able to advise you about anything that is a problem for you.
Whether you know it or not, a well-balanced diet is essential to healthy hair growth. Poor diet can be reflected in hair quality to quite an amazing degree and may show not just in hair loss, but dandruff, dry hair and hair breakage as well.
And, remember that water (moisture) is your friend and get plenty-inside and out. Spritzing a little water on your hair every day is a good idea. Get a spray bottle and just spray it just a little.
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