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How Hair Loss Affects Men

Cue-ball. Chrome Dome. Bowling Ball. Baldie.

We’ve all heard them – the funny nicknames for someone who is balding or completely bald. But for men who are suffering from hair loss, the names are anything but funny.

By age 50, roughly 85 percent of all men suffer from some form of hair loss. Maybe it’s just a little thinning here or there, or maybe it’s full-on recession of the hairline. And while most men will act as if the hair loss doesn’t bother them, the truth is, the majority of men suffering from hair loss would do anything to reverse their losses.

No matter which kind of hair loss you suffer from, there is hope and help available.

Often referred to as “male pattern baldness,” the most common type of hair loss among men is androgenic alopecia. It accounts for over 95 percent of all cases of hair loss in men. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones. In this type of hair loss, the hair follicle – which is necessary for producing new hair growth – shrinks and ceases hair production. This type of baldness generally starts at the hairline and recedes. The hair will become shorter, thinner and finer on the top and sides of the head, eventually forming a “U” pattern on the head.

While it is true that there are a number of reasons why a person can lose their hair, for most men, the only culprit responsible for their shedding mane is heredity. In cases of inherited hair loss, hair follicles are sensitive to Dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT. DHT-sensitive hair follicles will shrink, which shortens the lifespan of each hair follicle that is affected. The eventual result is a complete lack of new hair growth.

Other causes of baldness in men include:

  • Telogen Effluvium: This type of hair loss is characterized by hair shedding in several areas that does not follow a specific pattern. It also tends to start suddenly and without any prior warning. This kind of hair loss often is the result of a metabolic dysfunction, hormonal stress or from using certain medications.
  • Anagen Effluvium: This kind of hair loss is very similar to telogen effluvium, except that it generally results in the loss of all hair, not just patches here or there. Anagen effluvium is most commonly suffered by those who are receiving relief for various forms of cancer, including chemotherapy and certain kinds of drug cocktails designed to kill cancer cells.
  • Alopecia Areata: It is believed that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system attacks hair follicles, causing existing hair to fall out and no new hair to grow.
  • Scarring Alopecia: A person suffering from this kind of hair loss has his own hair follicles destroyed and replaced by scar tissue, which prevents the growth of new hair.
  • Congenital Hypotrichosis: This type of hair loss generally affects a person at birth and usually stays with them for the length of their lives. The majority of cases of this kind of hair loss are caused by genetic defects.
  • Infection: Sometimes hair loss can be caused by an infection, such as ringworm. It also can be caused by various fungi and viruses, which often are easily handled. Once the infectious source is identified and dealt with, hair regrows.
  • Defective Hair Shafts: A final cause of hair loss can be a defect with a person’s hair shaft. This damage can be caused by genetics, something in the environment, or inappropriate hair care.

The good news is that since the majority of hair-loss cases in men are classified as androgenic alopecia, there are numerous options available. Some 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor drugs, such as Propecia, can be used to help reverse hair loss in cases of androgenic alopecia. Some men also have experienced success with the topical usage of minoxidil, which is available in many over-the-counter products for men.

If all else fails, hair replacement/transplant technology may be another viable option. However, transplants may need to be redone, as they only cover up places where hair already has been lost and do nothing to stop the remaining hair from falling out.

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