What is Hair Loss?

Balding is common as people ageEveryone sheds some hair every day. How much is normal? The average is about 100 hairs per day. These hairs grow back. Some people lose more than 100 hairs each day, and these hairs do not grow back. This is called “hair loss.”

Some hair loss occurs as people age. This is normal. Most hair loss is due to androgenetic alopecia. Androgentic alopecia appears to have a genetic component, because it typically runs in families.

Male pattern balding is quite common. It involves hair loss at the front and top of the head. Sometimes, the hair that is unaffected is called a “wreath,” because it is on the back and sides. The hair follicles on the back and sides are genetically pre-programmed to keep their hair, except for normal daily hair loss.

Female pattern hair loss is different. Typically, women do not lose all their hair. Usually, their hair loss is affects the entire scalp, and is not isolated to the top and front. (Technically, it is possible for men to experience female pattern hair loss, but it is unusual.)

Testosterone levels increases with age in males and females. Testosterone has an indirect effect on the hair follicles, causing them to shrink. The scalp’s membranes get thicker and have less blood flowing. The hair follicles degenerate, and the hair falls out. This hair does not grow back on its own. Since men produce more testosterone than women, they have more hair loss problems.

Hair loss can have other causes, including:

  • disorders, such as hypothyroidism, fungal infections, and other diseases (consult a doctor)
  • stress
  • certain medications, chemotherapy or radiation
  • sudden hormonal changes
  • certain vitamins, if taken in excess
  • hair styles that tug on the hair
  • perms and other hair treatments
  • pregnancy (temporary)

Therefore, it is crucial to consult a physician if one experiences hair loss. An underlying cause may be treatable, and hair loss can be the first signs of serious illness.

Treatments for androgentic alopecia include addressing the hair style, taking certain medications specifically proven to treat hair loss, applying proven topical treatments, and hair transplants.

Of these options, the hair transplant is the only permanent solution. Hair transplants remove some healthy hair follicles (from the back and sides of men’s scalps; from a viable location on women’s scalps) and transplant them to the thinning and balding areas. A good hair transplant doctor who performs many of these surgeries can make the transplanted hair look very natural. These hairs grow like normal hairs, and are permanent.