There are many theories, truths, half-truths and misconceptions surrounding the common problem of hair loss, affecting millions of men and women. Hair loss, either temporary or permanent, is traumatic and to say the least, life-altering to those affected by it. The most common types are male pattern baldness and female hair loss, both of which we’re going to cover.
The most prevalent of the two is male pattern baldness, affecting around 40 million men in the U.S. Most men over the age of 40 tend to accept the fact that they will experience varying degrees of hair loss in their lifetime, but for women, the mental anguish associated with hair loss can be much more devastating. Female hair loss affects about 30 million women at some point in their lives.
Male Pattern Baldness
About 95 percent of thinning of men’s hair is male pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is based strictly on genetic predisposition. Around 25% of men start to lose their hair by the age of 30 and 66 percent by the age of 60. Unfortunately for most men, the chance of being born with the baldness gene is 4 out of 7.
The main culprit associated with all permanent hair loss in male and females is a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). The simple explanation is that DHT weakens the hair follicle, causing it to eventually stop producing hair.
Female Hair Loss
Female hair loss can be caused by several factors not necessarily associated with DHT. This type of hair loss can be caused by changes in a woman’s hormonal balance. Pregnancy, menopause, presence of ovarian cysts, birth control pills, thyroid disorders, chronic illnesses, and some medications can be contributing factors leading to female hair loss.
Temporary Vs. Permanent Hair Loss
Temporary hair loss in men and women can be caused by diet, vitamin deficiencies and stress. A condition known as alopecia areata can be caused by a sudden trauma to the head area or a traumatic event taking place in a person’s life.
In my own case, I have always been healthy, eating a good diet and taken supplements, including biotin. Yet, none of these practices had any effect on my hair loss. The results that people are looking for when they loose their hair will be disappointing by only taking a vitamin supplement or altering their diet.
Hair Loss Myths
Environmental factors DO NOT play any part in the categories of male pattern baldness or female hair loss. Wearing a hat WILL NOT cause your hair to fall out. Wearing any type of head covering WILL NOT affect your hair loss, nor will fresh air or letting your head “breathe.” These commonly held myths apply to both men and women.
Drugs: In the United States, there are only two drug-based treatments approved by the FDA for the treatment of male pattern baldness and female hair loss. These are finasteride (also known as Propecia) and minoxidil (also known as Rogaine). Propecia IS NOT recommended for women but they can use minoxidil.
Drugs only will slow down or stop your hair loss. Rarely will new hair grow as a result of drug therapy. Any benefits due to the use of these drugs disappear after you stop taking them. If this is the route you choose, realize that it’s a long-term commitment.
Topical Products: Some shampoos and scalp cleansing products claim to regrow or thicken hair. These items only work in a cosmetic capacity and do not affect the hair follicle’s ability to grow hair or regrow previously lost hair. They can give the appearance of thicker hair by coating the hair shaft with temporary thickening agents.
Lasers: The recent developments in the area of laser light therapy has shown tremendous promise. One such technology is The Laser Cap which can be combined with other drug-based therapies or used alone. Laser cap is “green” and I have heard great things about it. Just for you, the Green Beauty Team readers, I am going to volunteer my head to try it out. I will report back in a few months.
Hair Transplants: The only permanent solution for hair loss in men and women is hair transplantation surgery. Over the years I have witnessed astounding results and also some less than desirable results. It’s extremely important to choose a respected, experienced doctor for this type of procedure. You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to hair replacement. Done properly and by a talented doctor, the final look should be completely undetectable and natural – not even your hairstylist will know. I would recommend Dr. Jeffery Epstein as the leading expert in this field, with offices in New York City and Miami.
As you can see there are many options in the area of hair loss. I’ve tried to dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding this very emotionally charged topic. Whether you’re looking for a permanent solution or just want to make the most of what hair you still have, there is help available.
Take care of your hair! It’s your best accessory!