Hereditary Hair Loss: Symptoms, Diagnosis and PreventionHome / Hair Loss / Hereditary Hair Loss: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prevention
Among the most common hair loss conditions that affect a large number of both men and women is hereditary hair loss. This type of hair loss usually gets worse when a person ages. Many rumors and myths are circulating about hereditary hair loss. To make sure that you clearly understand what this hair condition is all about, let's look at what causes hereditary hair loss.
What is Hereditary-Patterned Baldness?
Hereditary-pattern baldness is one of the most common reasons of hair loss right now. Contrary to what many people think, hereditary hair loss is not a disease. What causes this normal hair loss condition is a combination of hormone levels, the aging process, and generics. Hair thinning or hair loss is a common condition experienced by most men and women as they age. About 40% of men and women will, however, get affected by an obvious condition of air loss. In both men and women, hair loss begins in their 20s and 30s.
In menopause, however, the hair loss becomes more noticeable for many women. Androgenetic alopecia is another name for this hair loss condition in women, and in men, it is known as male pattern baldness. It is becoming evident to researchers what the true cause of this condition is. The normal cycle of hair growth changes when it is under the influence of testosterone, which, a male hormone. It causes shorter, thinner, or "miniaturized" hair when this happens. A typical pattern of hair loss may come as a result of the hair follicles becoming dormant. It is a myth that the mother is the one who passes a hair loss condition to her children. The truth is, both parents can contribute to the gene that causes hair loss.
In hereditary-pattern baldness, the hair starts thinning and slowly becomes a complete hair loss in parts or the entire scalp. You can't conclude that you suffer from hair loss simply because you have seen hair strands on your pillow, bath tab, or comb. A person loses about 100 strands of hair every day. This is quite normal and doesn't mean that the hair is thinning. Hair may shed rapidly after childbirth or a serious illness, but this does not mean that you suffer from a hair loss condition.
Men usually start losing hair at the temples and crown. An m-shaped pattern is formed at the hairline when this happens. In advanced stages of hair loss, the only remaining hair will form a rim of hair along the side and back of the scalp. On the other hand, hereditary hair loss females undergo hair loss differently. The hair tends to be thin generally, but it stays hidden. The most affected part of the scalp is the top of the head which goes down the middle.
This type of hair loss is commonly referred to as a "Christmas tree" pattern. Unlike in men, the hair loss hereditary in women does not affect the hairline and the temples, and the forehead is not affected. If a person experiences complete hair loss in one area of the scalp, the cause of the hair loss may be related to another different form of hair loss. This type of hair loss is usually called alopecia areata, usually caused by an immune system disorder, other skin conditions, or a fungus infection.
Doctors who diagnose hereditary-pattern baldness usually look at similar hair loss affecting the family or its pattern. No further tests are necessary for most people.
Hair loss is permanent.
Since hereditary hair loss is permanent and you can't stop it, the best you can do is slow it down using medication such as finasteride (Propecia) or Minoxidil (Rogaine). Both men and women can use Minoxidil, but men only use finasteride. Available on the counter now, Minoxidil comes in the form of a solution. It usually works effectively when applied to the scalp twice a day. Although it is used to reduce the rate at which the hair loss is spreading, it also allows you to regrow hair after about 4 to 8 months. Men require a higher concentration of about 5% for the drug to work effectively. The two percent strength in women will work just fine. If a woman uses 5% of Minoxidil, it may grow facial hair.
The problem is that once you start using it, you will have to continue using it for the rest of your life. If you stop using it, you will continue losing your hair. On the other hand, finasteride is a prescription-only pill. This means that the doctor needs to subscribe to this drug if you want to get access to it. The drug works by stopping testosterone from forming. In men, higher concentrations of this drug stop the growth of non-cancerous (benign) parts of the prostate gland.
Research shows that finasteride can help prevent up to 99% of hair loss in men suffering from hereditary-patterned baldness. Two-third of men who use this medication experience growth of new hair. Discontinuing Minoxidil will derail any progress made. The drug may also affect sexual functionality in men. Hereditary hair loss women are not reduced when using the finasteride drug. The medication may also lead to birth defects. Therefore, women who intend to have children in the future should not use it. Certain types of birth control pills may be used in some women as a hormonal treatment for getting rid of hair loss caused by higher levels of male hormones.
Hair loss may occur in some people due to certain hair treatments. These include coloring and strengthening. Very tight hairstyles such as braids or ponytails may also cause hair loss. Even though this won't lead to hereditary hair loss, it will eventually cause some form of hair loss condition. If you are using any hairstyle that pulls the hair, you should discontinue it.
The market is full of a range of hair loss products who's manufacturers claim to work very effectively to cure hair loss. However, the only medications that have been tested and proven to work by the FDA remain Minoxidil and finasteride. A few hair loss medications available over-the-counter can worsen hair loss by irritating or harming the skin.
Minoxidil and finasteride may stop further hair loss. They might even promote the growth of new hair. The treatments, however, don't work the same way in all hair loss patients. Other people prefer using weaves, toupees, or hair wigs to hide hair loss. Besides that, surgical procedures are also used to treat hair loss. They include:
- Hair flaps – This hair restoration procedure involves removing a strip of skin with hair from an area of the body that doesn't need it to areas that need it.
- Scalp reduction – This procedure involves removing strips of bald skin surgically from balding areas to reduce its effects.
- Hair transplants – This surgical hair restoration procedure involves extracting one to 15 hair follicles from the donor site and transferring them to the balding areas.
The latest procedure called "micrografts" treats hair loss conditions and offers the best possible results. However, they are quite expensive compared to other surgical hair loss treatment options. Besides that, they consume a lot of time because graft hair is removed one by one. To complete the treatment, the surgeon may require about 700 individual grafts. Visible results take up a year to show.
When To Call a Professional
You need to seek medical attention if you realize that you are developing any following symptoms. It may mean that you are suffering from other medical conditions besides hereditary hair loss:
- A sudden loss of hair or hair that fall out in clumps
- Patchy hair loss that brings out a flea-bitten" appearance
- Flaking, scarring, redness in the scalp area that is experiencing hair loss
- Thinning hair in women who have not yet reached 30 years
- Women who show signs of high testosterone levels. This may include abnormal menstrual periods, hair growth in unusual body areas such as the face or the chest, hair loss in a male pattern, acne, or deepening voice.
When you consult a dermatologist or doctor, he or she will prescribe finasteride to men who may want to use it. You may consult a dermatologist who can perform hair restoration procedures or a cosmetic surgeon.
Hereditary hair loss may progress over time if you don't take the necessary, proper measures of seeking preventative treatments. If hereditary hair loss starts at an early age, it will become more severe in the future. Once you start using Minoxidil or finasteride, you should never stop, or else progress will be derailed.
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