Throughout history, hair has been an important symbol. The significance of hair as an indicator of gender, and social, religious and professional status has been as great as that of clothing, jewelry, tattoos, weapons, and even crowns.
The importance of hair goes back at least as far as the Neolithic Age. Several years ago, a man’s body was found frozen in a glacier near the Austrian-Italian border. Because he looked like modern man, it was first thought that he had died only a few years before. Upon examination of his clothing and weapons, archaeologists concluded that he had been frozen for more than 5,000 years. It is likely that this preserved Neolithic man wore his hair in the fashionable cut and style of that age. His hair was neatly cut to a length of 3.5 inches, and his beard was trimmed.
In Ancient Egypt, sons of the Pharaoh wore their hair tied in a distinctive bun on the right side of the head just behind the ear. The Pharaoh himself was never seen without a wig. Even today, male and female English judges wear obviously artificial horsehair wigs when they preside in court.
The oldest known medical text is an Egyptian papyrus scroll. Its remedies include an ointment for restoring lost hair, consisting of equal parts crocodile fat and hippopotamus dung. The physician who wrote the text recommended that one rub this concoction into the bald scalp.
The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, recognized a connection between the sexual organs and baldness. He may have been the first to record the observation that eunuchs (men castrated before puberty) did not become bald. Hippocrates’ own baldness stimulated his interest in the subject of hair loss. His prescription for preventing hair loss was the application of a mixture of cumin, pigeon droppings, horseradish, and nettles to the scalp. In fact, the area of permanent hair that encircles the back and sides of the head is sometimes referred to as the Hippocratic wreath.
Dating back to Biblical times, the tale of Samson is one of the familiar examples of man’s concern over hair loss. Samson had the strength to destroy the Philistines as long as his hair remained long and uncut. As soon as Delilah cut his hair, he lost all of his strength.
Early Christian monks and priests shaved the hair on the crown of the head to create a tonsure. This highly visible mark proclaimed their vow of chastity to the world. It symbolized their lack of concern with worldly vanities and riches; it also expressed their personal dedication to God. During the Middle Ages, Christian society saw an emphasis of concern with the spiritual side of life and a studied neglect of physical functions. The tonsure became so extreme that, upon taking orders, a monk shaved his head almost completely bare, so that only a narrow fringe of hair remained encircling his head.
During the time of King Louis XIV of France, elaborate wigs became fashionable for the aristocracy. Some of these wigs incorporated paraphernalia such as model ships and cages with live birds. The more complex constructions often weighed 15-20 pounds. Known for luxuriant hair in his youth, King Louis began this practice and may have adopted the fashion to disguise his balding as he grew older. Elaborate wigs continued to be a class status and fashion symbol until the middle of the eighteenth century.
Hair has also been an important symbol of rank and religion in Asia. Buddhist monks shaved their heads completely. Japanese Samurai warriors shaved the front and top of the head and drew the long back and side hair into a complex topknot. Even modern day Sumo wrestlers wear their hair in a distinctive knot at the back although they do not shave the front and top. The ubiquitous queue or pigtail of Chinese men, a long single braid worn down the back, was a symbol of their bondage to a lord, landowner, or to the Emperor.
Most urban Chinese men cut off their queues after the revolution in 1920, but the custom persisted in many rural areas. During the revolution, any man found wearing a queue was publicly humiliated; his hair was cut off and burned.
Today, hair continues to be an important part of self-expression, and can function as a symbol of attitude, culture, and religion. Hair, or the lack of it, is of great significance to rock singers, punks, Rastafarians, Hare Krishnas, Orthodox Jews, Sikhs, Sufis, Buddhists and Hindus. Hair is important to our self-image and self-identity, and for both men and women, it is a universal symbol of youth.
The condition of one’s hair is an important indicator of age and the body’s general state of health. Other similar indicators, such as skin condition, muscular coordination, brightness of the eye and alertness of manner, are often more subtle or may be masked by clothing. Hair, however, is usually in plain sight.
There are associations and social reactions that may result if one’s hair is gray or a man is bald. It has been thought that such reactions were based on primal judgments, such as whether the person is fit for warfare, reproduction, and for active labor. A full, glossy head of hair is a clear signal that one is youthful, vigorous, and therefore, desirable.
Hair is composed of a complex protein called keratin. Human body has three basic compounds: , proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; the synthesis of protein requires the greatest investment of energy. When a person becomes ill or malnourished, his/her hair stops growing. When illness or malnutrition is severe or prolonged, the hair may fall out (the medical term for this is telogen effluvium).
The resumption of hair growth is a sign that recovery has begun. Science continues to explore why hair grows or fails to grow, and why it falls out in some people, but not in others. Mammals share several characteristics. Most mammals bear live offspring (as opposed to laying eggs) and nurture their young with milk made in special glands on the female’s body. Mammals are warm-blooded, that is, they maintain constant body temperature independent of the outside temperature.
Hair is a feature shared by all mammals; and like many mammals, man’s skin is covered with hair. Human skin has more hair follicles per unit of surface area than the skin of most other primates; which this is surprising, since as most primates appear to be so much hairier than humans. This impression is caused by the greater length and coarseness of the individual hair shafts in primates such as monkeys and apes. In contrast, the majority of human body hair consists of a very fine, almost invisible, type of hair called vellus hair. Human hair is classified into two main types:
Except for the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, most of the human body’s areas of seemingly bare skin are actually covered with very fine vellus hairs that may be almost invisible except to under very close or microscopic inspection. There are several distinct subtypes of terminal hair. For example, eyelash hairs, called cilia, are different from head and body hair.
Pubic (groin) and axillary (armpit) hairs are also different from terminal hairs on the head and are associated with different types of glands in the skin. Even scalp hairs have several different sub-groupings. For example, there is a fringe of very fine hair surrounding the circumference of the head. This hair gives a transitional gradation of thickness from the bare skin appearance of the vellus hair to the dense, thick hair of the crown. Similarly, the hair above the ears or at the base of the neck is not as coarse as that of the crown.
The reasons we have hair and the functions of its growth patterns are not completely understood. Our pre-historic ancestors were much hairier than we are today; the reason for the decreased hairiness of modern man is unknown, although it is reasonable to assume that it parallel the use of clothing for warmth and protection. Hair serves as insulation from the cold; however, this does not explain why different human groups have distinct patterns of hair growth. Most people of Asian descent have very sparse body and facial hair, but some of these peoples such as the Inuit, Tibetans and Mongols people, inhabit some of the coldest regions on earth. Hair has the additional function of extending the sensory capability of the skin beyond its surface.
Although human hair lacks the wealth of sensory nerve fibers found at the root of whiskers of some animals, each hair has a nerve fiber going to the bulb of the hair follicle. Mechanical displacement of each hair causes a sensation, an awareness of movement. For example, when an ant or fly walks on one’s arm, one feels the displacement of hairs caused by the insect.
Hair plays a role in the defense mechanisms of most fur-bearing animals as well. When an animal confronts a potential enemy, its fur bristles, standing on end to make the animal appear to be larger and more threatening. In dogs, this response is most visible in the neck area where the neck hairs, called hackles, rise. In cats, the most visible response may be in the tail. An extreme example of the use of hair for self-defense occurs in porcupines: their quills, which are modified hairs, stand out from the body when the animal feels threatened.
Porcupines have converted a reflex, that in most animals is purely defensive, into a formidable weapon. In modern man, with relatively sparse body hair, only vestigial traces of these reactions remain. A separate, tiny muscle connects the lower portion of each hair shaft with the underside of the skin. When you are frightened, cold or angry, these small muscles, called erector pili muscles, contract, causing your hair to stand on end.
Each hair shaft also contains a small gland called the sebaceous gland, located next to the hair shaft. Sebaceous glands make a yellow, fatty substance called sebum that lubricates the hair. Each time the erector pili muscle contracts, the gland is squeezed, and a small amount of lubricant is applied to the surface of the hair. Hair, along with skin pigmentation, is the major natural protection that we have against the sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays. Scalp hair also plays an important role in preventing mechanical trauma to the skull. Hair acts as a “dry lubricant” in areas that rub, such as under the arms and in the groin, and serves to disperse pheromones (body secretions that are involved in sexual attraction).
Hair is integral to our body image and can have a profound influence on our self-esteem and self-confidence. There is no other part of the human anatomy that can be changed or manipulated so easily. Hair can be groomed, styled, waved, straightened, dyed, braided, or cut, and, unlike tattoos or body piercing, changes made to our hair can be completely reversed. Hair serves as a means of self-expression, and the loss of this form of self-expression in people who are going bald may account, at least in part, for the despair that they may experience.
For all of its simple appearance, hair is a complex and valuable organ. Although we usually think of hair only in terms of the visible portion of the hair shafts, each hair, along with its muscle and sebaceous gland, must be working properly to maintain a healthy head of hair.
Anatomically, hair is a part of the skin. As hair is physically distinct however, it is among the structures known as skin appendages. Other skin appendages include sweat glands, fingernails and toenails. Skin is composed of three main layers. The outer layer of skin is the epidermis. This layer is less than a millimeter in thickness and is composed of dead cells that are in a constant state of sloughing and replacement. As dead cells are lost, new ones from the growing layer below replace them. Beneath the epidermis is the dermis, a tough layer of connective tissue that is about 2 to 3 mm thick on the scalp. This layer gives the skin its strength, and contains both sebaceous glands and sweat glands. Beneath the dermis is a layer of subcutaneous fat and connective tissue.
The larger sensory nerve branches and the blood vessels that nourish the skin run deep into this layer. In the scalp, the lower portions of the hair follicles (the bulbs) are found in the upper part of this fatty layer. The hair follicle measures about 3-4 mm in length and produces one to four hair shafts, each about 0.1 mm in width. It is a complex structure comprised of three main layers.
The outer layer, called the outer root sheath or trichelemma, surrounds the follicle in the dermis and then blends into the epidermis on the surface of the skin, forming the structure commonly referred to as the pore (from which the hair emerges).
The middle layer, the inner root sheath, is composed of three parts (Huxley layer, Henly layer, and cuticle), with the cuticle being the innermost portion that touches the hair shaft. Interestingly, the cuticle is formed by a layer of overlapping cells that interlock with the cuticle of the hair shafts shaft (matrix cells). This mechanism holds the hair shaft securely in place, but also allows it to grow in length.
The hair shaft itself is also composed of three layers. The cuticle, the outer layer just described, forms the surface of the hair and is what we see as the hair shaft emerges from the follicle. The middle layer, the cortex comprises the bulk of the hair shaft and is what gives hair its strength. It is composed of an organic protein called keratin, the same material that comprises rhinoceros horn and deer antlers. The center, or core, of the hair shaft, is the medulla, and is only present in terminal hair follicles. The lower portion of each hair follicle widens into a region called the bulb, which contains the matrix cells. The size of the bulb and the number of matrix cells will determine the width of the fully-grown hair.
Below each follicle is a small, collection of specialized cells, called the dermal papillae. The dermal papillae fit into a hollow in the widened base of the hair shaft. For many years, scientists thought that hair growth originated from the dermal papillae. Recent evidence has shown that the growth center extends from the dermal papillae all the way up to the region of the follicle where the sebaceous glands are attached. It is now believed that the primary function of the dermal papillae is to regulate follicular growth and differentiation. If the dermal papillae are removed (this sometimes happens during a hair transplant), the hair follicle is able to regenerate a new one, although the growth of the new hair will be delayed.
The normal human scalp contains about 100,000-150,000 follicles that produce thick terminal hair. For comparison, the human body has approximately 5 million follicles that produce the fine, vellus hair. At any given time, about 90% of terminal hairs on one’s head are actively growing. This phase, called anagen, can last from 2-7 years, though the average is about three. Scalp hair grows at a rate of about 0.44 mm/day (or 1/2 inch per month). The other remaining 10% of scalp hairs are in a resting state called telogen that, in a normal scalp, lasts about three months. When a hair enters its resting phase, growth stops, the bulb detaches from the papilla, and the shaft is either pulled out (as when combing one’s hair) or pushed out when the new shaft starts to grow. When a hair is pulled ou, or falls out on its own, a small, white swelling is found at the bottom of the hair shaft. Most people assume that this is the growth center of the hair, but it is just the clubbed, detached lower end of the hair shaft. The dermal papillae remain in the scalp.
Humans lose about 100 hairs per day; everyone has a few hairs stuck to the comb each time they comb their hair. The presence of a large number of hairs on the comb, in the sink, or in the tub can be the first sign of excessive hair loss. One of the most interesting things about hair is that, in contrast to the commonly held notion that it grows as individual strands, it actually emerges from the scalp in groups of one to four (and sometimes even five or six). The reason for this is that hair follicles are not solitary structures, but are arranged in the skin in naturally occurring groups called follicular units. Although skin pathologists recognized this fact in the early 1980’s, its profound importance in hair transplantation surgery was not appreciated until the mid-1990’s. The use of naturally occurring, individual follicular units has revolutionized modern hair transplantation.
Hair Cycle Estimates
|Body Area||Anagen Duration||Telogen Duration||Telogev Percentage|
|Scalp||2-6 year||3 months||15%|
|Face (beard,mustache)||2 months – 1 year||1-3 months||33%|
|extremities||1-6 months||2-6 months||75%|
All humans are born with a finite number of hair follicles. The diameters of the individual hairs in our follicles increase as we grow from infancy to adulthood. However, no matter what we eat, what our lifestyles may be, or what kinds of vitamins we take, we never grow any more hair follicles.
At puberty, men have a very low hairline that usually recedes to its mature position by the age of 20 to 22 and then stabilizes. In men with a genetic tendency to go bald, this hairline will continue to recede. Severe illness, malnutrition, or vitamin deficiency can speed or exacerbate the natural hair loss process, but many healthy men lose more hair than others do. This natural process is called androgenetic alopecia or common baldness (also known as male pattern baldness). It is only in recent years, with our greater knowledge of genetics and the chemistry of sex hormones, that we have begun to understand the causes. It is important to note that male pattern baldness also occurs in women, but in a slightly different form.
Androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness is a process that changes the follicles that produce terminal hairs. Follicles first produce thinner, shorter hairs with weaker shafts. Eventually, these follicles produce only fine, almost invisible, vellus hairs, and they may die out altogether. Androgenetic alopecia requires three conditions for its occurrence: the genes for hair loss, male hormones in adequate quantities, and time.
A gene is a single bit of chemically encoded hereditary instruction that is located on a chromosome and represents a tiny segment of DNA. Chromosomes occur in pairs (humans have 23 pairs), and every individual inherits one set of chromosomes from each parent. The genetics of androgenetic alopecia is complicated and hair loss is thought to involve more than one gene. When several genes govern a trait, it is called polygenic. Genes that are located on the X- or Y-chromosomes are call sex-linked. Genes on the other 22 pairs of chromosomes are called autosomal.
It is currently believed that the genes governing common baldness are autosomal. This means that the baldness trait can be inherited from the mother’s or the father’s side of the family. The commonly held notion that baldness comes only from the mother’s side of the family is incorrect, although for reasons not fully understood, the predisposition inherited from an affected mother is of slightly greater importance than that inherited from an affected father. The term “dominant” means that only one gene of a pair is needed for the trait to show up in the individual. A “recessive” gene means that both genes must be present in order for the trait to be expressed.
The genes involved in androgenetic alopecia are believed to be dominant. Just because a person has the genes for baldness does not mean the trait will manifest itself. The ability of a gene to affect one’s characteristics, i.e. be visible in a particular individual, is called “expressivity.” Expressivity relates to a number of factors, the major ones being hormones and age, although stress and other factors may play a role. To put it simply, a man whose father and uncles are severely bald may have minimal hair loss himself because the expression of the baldness gene is limited.
None of the genes responsible for male pattern baldness has yet been identified. This suggests that any kind of genetic engineering to prevent common baldness is still many years away.
Hormones are biochemical substances produced by various glands throughout the body. These glands secrete their products directly into the bloodstream in order to spread them throughout the body. These chemicals are very powerful and minute amounts of them have profound effects upon the body.
The primary male sex hormone is testosterone. Testosterone and other related hormones that have masculinizing effects are produced primarily in the testicles. This means that the hormonal levels that are seen in adults do not reached significant levels until the testicles develop and enlarge during puberty.
These same hormones are the cause of many changes that occur in puberty: deepening of the voice, growth of facial hair, development of body odor, change in the muscular development, and change in body shape. These hormones that cause acne and beard growth can also signal the beginning of baldness. The presence of androgens, testosterone, and its related hormone DHT, cause some follicles to regress and die. In addition to the testicles, the adrenal glands located above each of our kidneys, produce androgenic hormones; this is true for both sexes. In females, ovaries, like testicles, are a source of hormones that can affect hair.
The relationship between a man’s testicles and hair loss has been recognized for centuries. In societies that had harems, guards were castrated to prevent sexual activity between the guards and women of the harem. In all of those societies, it was observed that men who were castrated before puberty did not become bald. Early in the 20th century, castration was common among patients with certain types of mental illness. Castration seemed to have a calming effect, and noticeably reduced sex drive in patients. A psychiatrist discovered the specific relationship between testosterone and hormonally induced hair loss during this time.
The doctor noted that the identical twin brother of one patient was profoundly bald while the mentally ill twin had a full head of hair. The doctor decided to determine the effect of treating his patient with testosterone, which had recently become available as a drug. He injected his patient, the hairy twin, with testosterone to see what would happen. Within weeks, the hairy twin began to lose all but his wreath of permanent hair, just like his normal twin. The doctor stopped administrating testosterone; however, his patient never regained his full head of hair.
The hormone believed to be most directly involved in androgenetic alopecia is dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is formed by the action of the enzyme 5-a reductase on testosterone. DHT acts by binding to special receptor sites on the cells of hair follicles to cause the specific changes associated with balding. Among other effects, DHT decreases the length of the anagen (growing) cycle, and increases the telogen (resting) phase, so that with each new cycle the hair shaft becomes progressively smaller.
In men, 5-a reductase activity is higher in the balding area. Women have half the amount of 5-a reductase overall as compared to men, but have higher levels of the enzyme aromatase, especially in their frontal hairlines. Aromatase decreases the formation of DHT, and its presence in women may help to explain why female hair loss is somewhat different than hair loss in males.
The mere presence of the necessary genes and hormones is insufficient to cause baldness. Hair loss also requires exposure of susceptible hair follicles to the responsible hormones. The time required for hair loss to start due to hormone exposure varies from one individual to another, and relates to a person’s genetic expression and to the levels of testosterone and DHT in his bloodstream.
Significantly, hair loss does not occur all at once, but is cyclical. People who are losing their hair experience alternating periods of slow hair loss, rapid hair loss, and even stability (no increase in hair loss). The factors that cause the rate of loss to speed up or slow down are unknown.
When the body experiences stress caused by a traumatic experience, nutritional deficiency, or illness, the rate of hair loss can increase. An example of this occurred in a man whose four-year-old child died. Within just a few months, he lost all but the permanent wreath of hair around his head.
Women’s hair seems to be more sensitive to the effects of stress than men’s hair. This may be because women with a genetic predisposition towards hair loss usually have a higher percentage of fragile miniaturized hair. It is important to note that stress generally causes the type of hair loss referred to as telogen effluvium. This is very different from androgenetic alopecia. Telogen effluvium is the reversible shedding of hair in the resting phase when the body senses that it needs to divert its energies elsewhere. Therefore, stress temporarily changes the amount of hair that is shed, but the lost hair is likely to grow back.
Some assert that a lack of blood supply contributes to hair loss. Bald skin gradually loses some of its blood supply and, consequently, it becomes thin and shiny. These changes, however, are secondary to the loss of hair. Hair follicles are one of the most rapidly metabolizing tissues in the body; their high metabolic rate demands an excellent blood supply to carry oxygen and other nutrients to the cells.
If the blood supply diminishes, the follicle cells wither and die. Growing hair requires the proper nutrition that comes with a good blood supply. When hair follicles are transplanted into skin grafts or scar tissue, both of which have a relatively poor blood supply, the presence of the grafted hair causes the local blood supply to increase.
This claim usually accompanies microscopic photographs of an empty follicle clogged with a heaped up waxy substance that prevented the hair from growing. There is no scientific evidence that clogged pores could interfere with hair growth. Common sense is sufficient to refute these claims. Why would pores be clogged on the top of the scalp and not on the back and sides? In addition, everyone has had an ingrown hair at one time or another.
An ingrown hair occurs when a hair grows through intact skin where there is no opening. If a hair can force its way through skin, it can certainly grow through soft, waxy sebum at the bottom of an empty follicle. It is also important to note that the lubricants that normally coat the surface of the hair shaft are produced even when a hair shaft falls out. Since there is no hair shaft surface for these lubricants to coat, they pile up in the bottom of the follicle space. If clogged pores caused baldness, women would be as bald as men.
Folklore says that men who constantly wear hats are more likely to become bald, as hats prevent air from circulating to the head. Hair follicles get their oxygen through the bloodstream, however, rather than from ambient air.
Factors that affect only the exposed part of the hair do not injure the growing portion of the hair root. One exception to this is that constant traction on the hair follicles, such as from the continuous wearing of “corn rows” or very tight braids, can cause permanent hair loss. This condition is called traction alopecia, and is distinct from androgenetic alopecia.
Many over-the-counter lotions and drugs claim to restore lost hair. Whether sold through drug stores, salons or mass media, most are useless. A 1989 Supreme Court decision prevents these potions from being advertised or sold in the United States as medications that prevent hair loss or promote the regrowth of lost hair; however, such claims are still made. Charlatans of every age have eagerly seized upon each new scientific wonder to profit from a gullible public. Excepting cancer and arthritis, hair restoration has been one of the most fertile areas for medical nostrums. For example, in the same year that the principle of the magnetic field was described, “magnetic” and “electric” hairbrushes for the prevention and treatment of baldness appeared on the market. Concoctions that claimed to be “snake oils” were also sold for the treatment of arthritis and baldness. In hindsight, it is understandable that an unsophisticated person, who was crippled by pain from arthritis and who lived at a time when there was no better treatment for his illness, might be desperate enough to try “snake oil” as a treatment for arthritis. However, until the Supreme Court decision banning their promotion, ads for products that claimed to be able to restore hair filled the television airwaves. Infomercials complete with real doctors, pictures, and testimonials promoted these worthless potions every day.
Even today, it is difficult for the layperson to differentiate between fact and fiction when it comes to hair loss remedies. There are two FDA approved medications to treat androgenetic alopecia. Though they have limited benefit, they may be useful for many. These two medications, minoxidil and finasteride, are discussed in detail in the chapter titled “Drugs to Prevent Hair Loss.”
If you think your hair is thinning, although you don’t have any real baldness, it is important to check that this is actually the case. Try the tug test, and remember that it is normal to lose 50-100 hairs a day. Sometimes thinning of the hair can be entirely in the mind, as a symptom of depression.
Thinning of hair all over the scalp (rather than patchy baldness) can be due to various causes. In the case of mental or physical stress, it often occurs 2–3 months after the event. This is because at the time of the stress many follicles enter telogen (the resting phase) prematurely, and are then shed together at the end of telogen a few months later. In this situation the hair loss usually recovers completely.
If you believe your hair is thinning, do not assume it is due to stress. See your family doctor, who will be able to rule out the common causes (such as thyroid deficiency and iron deficiency). Many drugs – not just those listed below – can cause hair loss, and the doctor will be able to check if this is a possibility.
Some skin disorders, such as eczema or psoriasis of the scalp, can cause thinning of the hair. Usually the hair grows again once the skin problem is treated.
Drugs that may cause hair thinning are:
Anticancer drugs, ACE inhibitors for blood pressure or heart failure (captopril, enalapril, lisinopril), Blood-thinning drugs (warfarin), Drugs for gout (allopurinol), Antimalarials (chloroquine), Drugs for epilepsy (valproate sodium, vigabatrin), Drugs for Parkinson’s disease (e.g. pramipexole, bromocriptine), Anti-thyroid drugs (carbimazole, propylthiouracil), Lipid-lowering drugs (clofibrate, bezafibrate), Anti-acne drugs (isotretinoin).
Often no cause can be found. In some of these cases the hair will recover in time, but in others it remains thin. It is important to keep thinning hair as healthy as possible. If there is no curable cause, and the thinning is distressing, it may be worth trying Regaine. Bear in mind that Regaine will take several months to show any effect, and works in only a proportion of cases.
For most men, the first sign of excessive hair loss is the appearance of more hairs than usual on their comb or brush. Some men first notice excess hair at the bottom of the bathtub or on their fingers after shampooing. Men who are going to lose a very large amount of hair usually see the first signs between the ages of 17 and 25. Men whose fathers or grandfathers on either side of the family were bald, will probably notice the hair loss before someone who has no apparent family history of baldness. Sensitized to the possibility of hair loss, they are waiting for the process to begin.
As soon as he notices any sign of excess hair loss, the typical man will rush to a mirror to do a hair-by-hair inspection of his frontal hairline. If he cannot see any sign of hair loss, he may compare his present hairline with one from a recent photo. He will continue to closely observe his hairline every day. He will also attempt to keep, a hair-by-hair count of the hair on his comb, his fingers, or in the tub. Dark-haired men notice the hair loss process earlier that light-haired men do.
Some men resort to potions, regimens, or shampoos. A good shampoo will clean your hair, but no shampoo will stop the balding process. These approaches may offer the comfort of doing something during the early phase of hair loss, but eventually the futility of these measures will become obvious.
What can a man do? How can he cope with the disintegration of his youthful looks? What will he look like without hair? How will this affect his ability to attract a partner? How will his professional life be affected? Will the change affect his ability to gain a promotion? Will his ability to sell his product line to clients be affected? Anything that erodes self-confidence can have a negative effect upon all aspects of life.
The first step is to make an assessment of the extent of hair loss. One way to do this is to compare your present hairline with your hairline in a recent photograph. This will give you an approximation of the amount and rate of your hair loss. An unknown factor for most men is the extent of hair loss in the crown area. Looking in a mirror is one way to appraise the loss at the back of your head. The best way to accurately assess the hair loss in this area is to have a photo taken of the back of your head. For an accurate reading, the picture must be taken with a flash.
Almost every man who has significant loss in this area is surprised by the results. Another way is to ask your significant other, barber or hairdresser. If hair loss is bothering you, a visit to a physician who specializes in hair restoration is a worthwhile step. A thorough medical history and examination of the scalp can reveal the extent and trends of your hair loss. With the use of special magnifying apparatuses, a physician can specifically measure the degree of hair loss in various areas of the scalp. This establishes a baseline from which your hair loss can be graded over time. If you decide to treat your hair loss with minoxidil or finasteride, a repeat examination in 6-12 months may show the effectiveness of the treatment. Careful assessment of hair loss is critical to accurate prediction of the rate and extent of future hair loss.
Once you have confirmed your hair loss, you should compare your degree of baldness with the standard charts that follow. These charts have been adapted from the patterns described by Dr. O’Tar Norwood. They depict the most common configurations of male pattern baldness. There are seven grades of hair loss in the main series and five grades of a variation called the A series.
Comparing the front and back of your scalp with these diagrams can tell you where you stand now. Discussion with a knowledgeable physician can give you an idea of future hair loss. The next step is to decide whether to accept your hair loss or take measures to stop or reverse the process. If you are less than 45 years old, you might consider using minoxidil or seeing a doctor for a prescription for finasteride. One option is to obtain a hairpiece. Another option is to replace lost hair with your own natural, permanent hair via hair transplant surgery.