Hair loss: every man’s nightmare

 

We are going to see more bald men around us. Not a happy news.

Men are turning bald as early as in their 20s. This is definitely was not the case in our father’s generation where men in 40s walked around with a full crop of hair . About 85% of men will have major hair thinning by the time they’re  50. Some guys will start to lose theirs before they turn even 21.

Different ethnic groups show varying susceptibility levels to pattern baldness. Chinese, blacks and Native Americans are more likely to keep a full head of hair than whites.

Four main reasons that makes hair fall rate so bad: stress, bad habits, pollution and poor nutrition

“While genetics plays a key role in balding, a stressful lifestyle can play havoc. Simple lifestyle changes such as, getting seven hours of sleep, having a glass of water every hour (strands are made up of minerals, which only water can replenish) and eating protein-rich foods at regular intervals can bring about an 80 per cent change.” – Dr Ferrari, Times of India report.

Why do we go Bald ?

Baldness is slow, painless hair loss that follows a distinctive pattern with increasing age. In most instances it is a natural process and in men it tends to run in the family. It is called androgenetic alopecia or Common pattern baldness or male pattern baldness.This is the most common form of hair loss in humans. In Caucasians, normal male hair loss, commonly known as ‘‘male pattern baldness’’ is noticeable in about 20% of men aged 20, and increases steadily with age, so that a male in his 90s has a 90% chance of having  male pattern baldness.

Hamilton Norwood standards for classification of the most common types of MBP : image

To understand male pattern baldness, we need to understand hair growth. The following is a brief summary of normal hair growth cycle.

Hair growth cycle

Three stages of hair cycle are growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and rest (telogen).

Anagen phase: The growth phase lasts an average of 3-5 years. Full-length hair averages 18 to 30 inches.

Catagen phase: Catagen is the dynamic transition between anagen and telogen. Extensive apoptosis or cell death is observed

Telogen: Resting phase.  No significant proliferation, apoptosis or differentiation

Hair loss, hair thinning and problems with hair growth occur when growth cycle is disrupted.

Hair Growth Cycle : image

In MPB (male pattern baldness) the anagen phase of the hairs is reduced. Due to the shortened growing phase, the hair’s maximum length is reduced. Also telogen phase lengthens. This cycle slowly becomes more and more weighted toward the telogen phase.Over time, the anagen phase becomes so short that the new hairs do not even peek through the surface of the skin.

Anatomist James B. Hamilton showed that male pattern baldness was dependent on the complex interaction of three factors: androgens, genetics and age.  The testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent androgen that has the ability to bind to receptors in follicles. This binding trigger a change in the genetic activity of the cells, which initiates the gradual process of hair loss.

Is Hair loss an indicator of other diseases ?

Researchers suggest that baldness may be a sign of dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate cancer and even diabetes.  Hair loss is caused by the male hormone derivative, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the same hormone which plays a part in prostate cancer. Also poor blood circulation is related to heart disease, which can also lead to hair thinning resulting in baldness. Men who had lost the majority of their hair had a 32% increased risk of developing coronary artery disease.

Food and Hair loss

Food and Hair loss

Hair is composed of mostly protein, which means hair needs protein to grow. Iron, vitamin E, and trace minerals such as selenium, copper, and magnesium are also needed to keep hair in good shape. High protein and healthy food can improve hair growth. Include in diet fish, yeast, soybean, low fat cheese, eggs, beans and yoghurt. Reduce intake of burger, fries, cold, spicy, sugary foods, caffeine, fat, carbonated drinks, animal protein, excessive raw food, tofu, tomatoes etc. as these are the culprits for hair thinning.

Vices and Hair loss

The carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke, prevents the blood from transporting oxygen and key nutrients to hair follicles. Nicotine narrows the blood vessels, further stalling fresh hair growth.
Moderate drinkers  do not face much problem with hair, but regular alcoholics are at risk. Alcohol is known to suck the body of its iron supply, impeding absorption of zinc. Booze also causes dehydration, stopping the body from absorbing vital nutrients.

Treatment

Options at the moment include wigs, drugs and hair transplants. In addition there are hundreds of products (natural/organic/oil based) that claim to prevent and reverse hair loss, but it always is a long and difficult process to find an effective solution.

Drugs
Minoxidil is the first of two medications clinically proven for the treatment of hair loss and is effective for both men and women. It is medically proven for androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern hair loss) but is also known to be effective for various other hair loss conditions. Minoxidil is a topical liquid that can be applied once or twice a day depending on the formulation prescribed. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that relaxes and widens blood vessels to improve blood flow.

Finasteride 1mg is the second of the two only clinically proven treatments for hair loss and is only effective in men. It is a daily pill that works by inhibiting the product that is produced by the body which causes genetic hair loss – dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.

Hair transplant procedure moves hair already one have to fill an area with thin or no hair. The surgeon cleans scalp and injects medicine to numb the back of head. Doctor will choose one of two methods for the transplant: follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) or follicular unit extraction (FUE). Most people will see 60% of new hair growth after 6 to 9 months.

No more Rapunzels

Men are not alone. Women are also losing more hair than they did in the past.  Stressful lifestyle is a major reason for hair fall. Most women notice it in their 50s or 60s, sometimes as early as 40s.

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