Bald is beautiful — that is what some fashion experts claim in these modern times. With the current trend in hairstyle and fashion becoming more radical every year, you can usually get away with having lots of hair or having no hair at all and call it a fashion statement. Sporting a bald head is considered fashion. Sporting a balding head, however, is a disaster.
Balding or hair loss is medically known as alopecia. Everyone normally sheds hair everyday — it is a normal part of aging. Typically, you lose around 50 to 100 hairs daily. With about 100,000 hairs in your head at any given day, this loss isn’t much. The hair also goes through a pattern of growth and rest.
The growth phase typically lasts two to three years, during which your hair grows about one centimeter a month. The resting phase, on the other hand, lasts about three to four months long. During the end of the resting phase, the hair strands fall off, and are replaced by new strands. Baldness or hair loss or thinning happens when the rate of shedding hair exceeds the rate of hair regrowth. It also happens when the new hair is thinner than the hair being shed, or when the hair comes out in patches rather than in even array.
There are several types of alopecia, each with its own causes.
- Androgenetic alopecia. Also known as pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia affects both males and females. In this baldness pattern, the hair growth is shortened and the hairs are not as thick as the last batch. They also tend to be superficially rooted, causing them to fall off easily. It is likely that heredity plays a key role in this type of alopecia as a history of androgenetic alopecia on either side of your family also increases the risk of you getting one.
- Cicatricial alopecia. Inflammation damages and scars on the hair follicle are the main causes of this type of alopecia. When you get wounded, your body tries to repair the wound by putting in another skin in the form of scars. This replacement skin, however, does not have the hair follicles available for growing. Several skin conditions such as lupus and lichen planus exhibit this kind of alopecia. There is no known cause for what triggers such inflammations to occur.
- Alopecia areata. Most doctors classify this type of balding as an autoimmune disease, but there is no real known cause for it. The immune system attacks the hair follicles of the body, resulting in hair growth impedance. Viruses set off the condition although the reason why these usually target hair follicles is still unknown. If you’re suffering from alopecia areata, your hair grows back, but hair loss and regrowth happens more than the usual.
- Telogen effluvium. Hair loss for this type of alopecia is usually due to a change in the normal hair cycle. The change can be due to a shock on your system—either emotional or physical—that causes the hair roots to be pushed to the resting phase. From there, the normal hair growth and rest becomes abnormal. Hair loss may occur and becomes active again after a month or two. Usually, this type of apolecia disappears once the cause of your emotional or physical disturbance is corrected, but it may take months before that happens.
- Traction alopecia. Traction alopecia happens when you pull your hair so tightly that it causes scarring on your scalp and permanent damage to the hair roots. Hairstyling and hairstyles that cause your hair to be pulled back are the usual causes of this type of alopecia.
There are also general causes of hair loss that may result in any of the alopecias mentioned above. These include:
- Poor nutrition
- Medical treatments
- Hormonal changes
- Hair treatments and stylings
- Scalp infections
- Hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania)
Getting Rid of Alopecia
You can’t stop baldness but there are treatments that promote hair growth and hide hair loss though. There are also alopecia types that go away without any form of treatment.
- Consider medication. How effective the medications are for hair loss depends on several factors: what kind of apolecia you have, the extent of hair loss, and how receptive you are to the medication. The different kinds of apolecia medications include:
- Minoxidil – Rogaine is perhaps one of the most popular types of medication. It is approved for both alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia. It comes in the form of liquid or cream that you rub on your scalp twice daily. Side effects include scalp irritation.
- Finasteride – You take this orally daily as it comes in pill form. Results may take several months to show. Side effects (though rare) may include diminished sex drive and function. Finasteride is not approved for use by women, especially to pregnant women, as absorption of the medication in any form may cause birth defects to the baby.
- Anthralin – Anthralin is available as either a cream or an ointment. Like Rogaine, you can apply it directly to your scalp and it is used to treat apolecia areata.
- Try surgery. When conservative treatments fail, you might want to consider hair transplant and scalp reduction surgery. During the transplant, the doctor takes tiny plugs of skin containing several hairs from your scalp. The plugs are implanted on the bald sections.Scalp reduction surgery decreases the area of bald skin on your head. After the hairless scalp is removed, the space is closed by hair-covered scalp.Keep in mind that if you’re thinking of undergoing these surgeries, you should make sure to choose only a board-certified doctor.
- Use wigs. If both surgery and treatment do not work for you, then you can wear a wig or a toupee to cover the bald spots. For better results, choose those that are made from authentic hair.
Bald spots and thinning hair can cause insecurity. Thanks to modern medicine, you now have a better chance of gaining back your lost hair and your confidence as well.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of alopecia.