Friday, February 15, 2008

Going to the Root Cause of Hair Loss

Baldness is not an uncommon sight among men. However, it is also a fact that hair loss is not limited to men alone. It is perhaps because of this equal tendency for baldness that both men and women are becoming increasingly interested in understanding the cause of hair loss.

Hair Cycle

It is natural to lose several strands of hair in a single day. In the usual hair cycle, 80%-90% of hair strands are in the anagen or growing phase. The rest of the 10%-20% of hair strands are in the sleeping phase.

These hair strands get ready to be shed by getting thin in the catagen phase and eventually falling off during the telogen phase. This is not the cause of hair loss that we should be worried about because hair normally grows back after a natural cycle.

Male Hair Loss

The cause of men's hair loss may be due to more than one factor. The most common cause of hair loss however involves genetics and hormone levels. It is known that at least 95% of hair loss in men is linked to no other cause of hair loss than androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness. This inherited condition results in a growing bald area on top of the head and a receding hairline.

Androgenetic alopecia is the result of having too much of a testosterone byproduct called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. DHT may actually be beneficial in younger, growing males but too much of it in adults can be a cause of hair loss. DHT can be a cause of hair loss by attaching to hair follicles and cutting off the blood supply. Hair follicles therefore begin to shrink, making the growth of new hair strands impossible.

Female Pattern Baldness

Female pattern baldness is actually so common that 1 in 4 women have the condition. The reason why it may not be obvious in women is that female pattern baldness does not result in whole patches of hair falling off. Instead, female baldness is characterized by thinning areas near the front of the scalp or hairline or generally thinning hair on the entire scalp. In most cases, strands of hair still remain on females with female pattern baldness.

There seems to be no set age for female baldness to begin but just like in males, the main cause of hair loss in women stems from genetic and hormonal factors. It seems that estrogen imbalances in females may be the main cause of hair loss.

Women who have recently given birth are prone to thinning hair because of erratic estrogen levels. They can only grow back the lost hair once their estrogen level has stabilized again. Women who are undergoing menopause however and women under hormone therapy may experience more enduring cases of hair loss. Hormone therapy with progesterone for example may be a cause of hair loss in women since the hormone blocks the development of follicles.

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