I tell people all the time, “I’m shaved, not bald.” Whether or not that’s a distinction without a difference, alopecia (defined as partial or complete hair loss) is a losing proposition. To all the gentlemen asking me if I can predict whether or not they’ll go bald, allow me to answer this as definitively as I can. Yes, I can, and yes, you will. If you want your best guess of how the appearance of your hairline will evolve, take a good look at your father’s (if you still can).
Let’s begin by pointing out two important considerations.
- Balding is not usually the result of a disease. It’s a function of aging, heredity and diminishing testosterone levels.
- Both male and female-pattern baldness occurs, although this occurs much more often in men. Female-pattern baldness is discussed at http://www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
Here are a few fun facts about your hair:
- The average scalp has approximately 100,000 hairs.
- You normally lose 100 hairs daily.
- Half of men begin the balding process by age 30.
- Most men are bald or have a balding pattern by age 60.
Here’s a not-so-fun fact about balding: It’s true that stress contributes to hair loss. Sudden stress can cause loss to up to 3/4 of your hair to shed. That’s what happens when your hair is coming out in clumps when you comb it or run your hands through your hair. Here are some examples of stressors:
- Crash diets
- Emotional stress
- High fever and infections
- Major illness and surgeries
There are many other causes of hair loss, including many diseases and treatments such as low blood counts (anemia), radiation therapy, lupus, syphilis, ringworm, burns, thyroid disease, hormonal disorders and certain tumors. Even your habits, such as excessive blow-drying, shampooing or hair pulling can contribute to hair loss.
As mentioned, male pattern baldness is related to male hormone levels and heredity. Over time your hair follicles (the holes in your skin that house individual hairs) shrink and stop growing hair. That said, even when this occurs they retain the ability to grow hair if sufficiently stimulated.
This is all fine and good, but what I want you to understand regarding hair loss is what’s abnormal and when you need to seek medical attention.
Here are occurrences that should prompt you to contact your physician:
- You are a woman experiencing male pattern baldness.
- You are also developing acne, facial hair or abnormal menstrual cycles (women).
- You are losing hair in your teens or twenties.
- You are losing hair unbelievably fast.
- Your hair loss follows medication use.
- Your skin is red, tender, expressing pus, scaly or otherwise abnormal under the hair loss.
- You’re having pain or excessive itching associated with your hair loss.
Discussion of the effectiveness of medications such as Rogaine and Propecia, as well as discussion of other treatment options, including hair transplantation is available at http://www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
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