Baldness (Hair loss)
- What is baldness?
- Are there different types of baldness?
- What about male baldness?
- What causes male pattern baldness?
- Can male pattern baldness be prevented?
- If I lose my hair, will it ever grow back?
What is baldness?
Baldness is a partial or complete loss of hair on the scalp. Under normal circumstances, the human head loses approximately 100 hairs a day. However, sometimes a person will experience a much greater amount of hair loss than this.
The medical name for this condition is alopecia.
Are there different types of baldness?
Yes. A person, male or female, can lose some or all of their hair for a number of reasons, including:
- Side effects from drugs, for example, hair loss brought on by the cancer treatment chemotherapy.
- Traumatic alopecia: This is a man-made form of hair loss caused by hairdressing techniques. For example, damaging the hair with strong chemicals, such as bleach.
- Alopecia areata: In this condition, there are localised areas of hair loss. The cause is unknown and the underlying skin appears normal. There is no specific treatment. The hair growth usually returns to normal within a few months.
- Telogen effluvium: This is a type of hair loss that happens two to three months after the body has suffered something very stressful, such as a major surgery.
What about male baldness?
The most common type of baldness is male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). Most people recognise this type of baldness immediately. The hairline begins to recede at the temple, and the hair at the top of the head starts to thin out. After a period of time, the crown area may become completely bald, leaving a piece of hair around the back and sides of the head only.
What causes male pattern baldness?
Follicles are the cells that are responsible for growing hair. In some people, they may slow down production and start to shrink. While the follicles remain living tissue, they don't produce normal, visible hair.
Some men have areas on their scalp which are very sensitive to the male sex hormones known as androgens (hence the name androgenic alopecia). It is these hormones which cause the follicles to shrink.
This sensitivity to sex hormones, which can lead to baldness, is passed on from generation to generation. Therefore, baldness tends to run in families.
Can male pattern baldness be prevented?
In some cases, male pattern baldness can be retarded by medication. Your doctor can discuss these options with you, including the cost and the likelihood of some success. However, the effect lasts only as long as treatment continues. Hair transplants are sometimes undertaken. Wigs, as a cosmetic replacement for lost hair, are much less popular in Ireland today. No amount of hair loss is as embarrassing as a bad wig.
In most cases of male pattern baldness, men (and their families) adapt to the mans baldness and treatment is not sought. If it is any consolation, many women reportedly believe that baldness is a sign of intelligence in a man, and since it is triggered by your own sex hormones, male pattern baldness is in some regards as much a part of maleness as body hair.
If I lose my hair, will it ever grow back?
Unfortunately with male pattern baldness, the hair loss is permanent. However, with other types of baldness, such as telogen effluvium, the hair loss is not usually permanent.
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