Losing hair is one thing, but going bald is another – while not all hair loss conditions will lead to baldness, there are some which will and identifying the same is the first step to treating it. There are some types of hair loss, which will start probably around puberty and will lead to sure shot balding. The condition is known as androgen-dependent alopecia or more commonly as male pattern baldness. Studies have shown that male pattern baldness is generally genetic and if someone in your family has it, chances are that you might get it too.
Male pattern baldness is not something that will make you go bald overnight – there are stages of hair loss and if you are able to read them properly, you should be able to gauge whether it is normal hair loss or male pattern baldness. For starters, you will notice the hair around your temple region becoming finer and the hairline will start to recede in the same general area. The follicles that have been affected by the condition will start to produce shorter and thinner hair, till the time, the hair growth will eventually stop. As the hair growth stops, you will start to see bald spots, mainly in the upper parts of the head. Studies have shown that most white men tend to develop varying degrees of baldness, while certain ethnic groups, such as the Japanese and Chinese have lesser chances of male pattern baldness. Research has also shown that men with first and second cousins or relatives who have hair loss, are more prone to having the same type of hair loss.
While there are those who believe that male pattern baldness is caused because of high levels of testosterone in the body, the fact of the matter is that this type of baldness is caused because of androgens. The particular androgen that leads to male pattern baldness is called dihydrotestosterone and this does not affect all the hair follicles; just the ones in the upper scalp, leading to the prominent bald patches.
What can be done:
While there is no treatment as such for male pattern baldness, there are things that you can do to ensure that you slow down the hair loss process. There are also some methods by which you can regain some of the hair that you have lost, if not all.
- Before you can start anything, you need to go meet a reputed and experienced hair specialist (preferably a doctor), who will examine your hair and assist you in charting out a proper hair care plan. You might be asked to undergo certain tests and checks, so that the actual cause for the hair loss can be determined.
- The very first thing that you will need to rectify is your lifestyle – if you are someone who drinks and smokes a lot, you might want to reduce both. Hair loss problems can also be because of dietary issues, which means that you will have to make sure that you have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Your doctor will also be able to educate you on which nutrients are required for a healthy hair growth – these would include green leafy vegetables, fortified grains, eggs and fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and mackerel.
- If you are losing a lot of hair, there is also the chance that your shampoo and conditioner are not working for you. Talk to your doctor and they should be able to tell you which shampoo, conditioner and other hair products will be suitable for you and you can switch over to those.
- Although oils might not be magical, but they definitely have nourishing and hydrating qualities. Oils such as coconut, olive and jojoba are known to nourish the hair and rehydrate them, making them stronger, healthier and less prone to breakage. Treat your hair to a nourishing hair massage once in a while – warm the oil of your choice and massage it into your scalp and through the length of your hair. Allow the oils to soak in, before you wash it off with warm water and a mild shampoo.
- There are certain over the counter medicines that you can try using on the behest of your doctor. These are Minoxidil and Finasteride – while the first is a topical treatment, which is applied directly to the scalp, the latter is an oral medication, which requires a doctor’s prescription. With both medications, it will take anywhere between 3 to 8 months, for the results to start becoming visible. However, there are certain side effects that have been reported with both, which is why you need to understand about the medications, before you start using them.
- If your hair loss has become prominent, you could try to put on some wigs or even try out some weaves, which will give your hair a certain amount of volume. This is actually one of the easiest ways to make your head look fuller, without undergoing any treatments.
- Chances are that your doctor might suggest that you undergo laser therapy, which is a non-invasive method to stimulate hair growth naturally. A handheld laser will be used to stimulate the hair follicles in the regions of the head, where you are noticing maximum hair loss. The idea behind laser therapy is that the hair follicles are stirred into action naturally and this encourages hair growth.
However, if the hair loss is too severe, you could consider a hair transplant – you will need to see a specialist for this, because not every bald person will be considered an eligible candidate for a transplant. In addition, being invasive in nature, the decision for a transplant is not something you would want to take lightly. You need to consider all the pros and cons first and then decide whether you want to go for it or not. Provided you are an legible candidate for a hair transplant, you will have two main options – a follicular unit transplant or a follicular unit extraction. Make sure that you talk to your doctor about both and choose one that is the best choice for you.