Baldness is often hereditary and it is a real problem that many men have to deal with. When women experience hair loss it can be traumatic, especially because it is generally considered a male issue. However, in most cases baldness is a genetic issue.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hereditary hair loss. If you are a white male, be prepared as the chances of losing your hair are high. About 45% of white men between 30 and 40 years have partial or full hair loss due to this condition. This percentage will get even higher as you age. In fact, nearly all white men suffer from hair loss sooner or later in life. Hair loss occurs less frequently in black men and Asian men.
Androgenetic alopecia is much less common in women than in men. This is because this form of hair loss is influenced by the male hormone testosterone, and women generally have lower testosterone levels than men. In addition, women with androgenetic alopecia don’t go completely bald, whereas many men do.
What is androgenetic alopecia?
Androgenetic alopecia is a form of hereditary hair loss. It is assumed that it is influenced by the hormonal process of testosterone converting to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, which is held in a hair follicle’s oil glands. DHT damages the hair follicles and shortens the lifecycle of hair, causing it to become thinner and shorter. When the hair root dies, it is impossible for healthy hair to survive.
Androgenetic alopecia causes men to go bald. Hair loss typically starts at the top of the scalp and on the temple area. Thinning of the hair progresses over the years, causing the hairline to recede further. Some men may find their hair thinning around the crown, eventually culminating in a bald spot. Many men ultimately end up with a ring of hair around the sides and back of their heads.
Genetic hair loss presents itself differently in women than in men. In women, there is diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp due to increased hair shedding, causing the scalp to become visible.
Causes of hair loss
Hair loss can also be caused by other factors besides androgenetic alopecia, such as chronic stress, medicine use, iron deficiency and thyroid disorders. These causes do not generally lead to complete baldness and can be treated. However, complete hair loss from chemotherapy cannot be prevented.
Is there anything you can do to prevent baldness?
If you have been diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia, there are a number of hair growth treatments that you can purchase to prevent thinning, shedding and potential hair loss. We have listed these treatments below:
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- Propecia. Contains the active ingredient finasteride, which slows down the production of DHT. Propecia is only effective in treating androgenetic alopecia at its early stages. Women should only use this medicine under medical supervision. If there are plans of pregnancy, you should stop taking this medicine immediately as finasteride is known to cause serious birth defects in developing babies.
- Minoxidil. This lotion should be massaged into the scalp. Minoxidil produces better results when applied to the crown area and has less effect on the hairline.
- Ketoconazole. This medicine has proven to reduce hair loss and to make existing hair thicker. Ketoconazole is available as shampoo.
Last updated on October 13, 2016.
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