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Causes of Hair Loss

The causes of hair loss are few and many all at the same time, but you must first understand how hair loss is possible. Many television and radio commercials will advertise causes of hair loss being poor care taken of the hair or bad hair care products being used. However, the causes of hair loss on a large scale are easy to find and understand.

Long Illness- One of the more common causes of hair loss is a long bout with a serious illness or a very stressful period of family strife. Stress can cause many problems with your body with one being the excessive loss of hair.

Hormonal Imbalance- Another cause of hair loss can be the hormonal imbalance brought on by something like a thyroid disease. Correcting a hormonal imbalance like the excess of androgens or estrogens could cause hair loss.

Pregnancy- Many women begin to lose hair a few months after pregnancy due to the loss of balance in their hormones. Another cause of hair loss, this is usually cured on its own several months after the hormones return to normal.

Infections- Certain types of fungal infections or degenerative diseases can cause hair loss. To overcome the fungal infections that cause hair loss the patient needs to purchase an anti-fungal shampoo or lotion.

Genetic- The biggest cause of hair loss is the genes being passed on from generation to generation. Though there are a number of wives tales, from the motherís father and that it skips a generation, they are most commonly untrue. The only known genetic cause of hair loss has nothing to do with what side of family or generation you are a part of, it is simply the luck of the draw.

There are a number of causes for hair loss, but the majority are undeniably untrue. Doctors, scientists, and any number of normal Joeís have been attempting to understand baldness for hundreds of years, understand that when the true cause of hair loss is found you will hear about it!

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Hair Loss Products

There are a ton of hair loss products on the internet available to any buyer or interested consumer out there. With the tremendous amount of hair loss products available it can be very confusing as to just what claims to do what and what actually does what. Considering the following short descriptions of hair loss products before making a decision as to what you want to try to change your personal appearance.

FAST Shampoo & Conditioner- This hair loss product is an acronym for Fortified Amino Scalp Therapy, meaning it increases hair growth speed by 45%. This may not be the ideal hair loss product for balding men, but it doesnít hurt to give the product a chance in a desperate situation.

Hair Loss Pills- This hair loss product was developed by doctors in hopes of finding the cure to hair loss for both men and women. It is an extremely easy hair loss product to get started using and continue using due to its ease of use with just three pills a day being taken.

Hair Loss Treatments- Hair loss products like Rogaine and Propecia are a full fledged hair loss treatment with a schedule of use to attempt to achieve a desired effect with oneís hair. Shampoos, conditioners, and pills offer a hair loss product that isnít used as much, but does offer a particular advantage.

DHT Blockers & Inhibitors- DHT blockers or inhibitors are hair loss products that attempt to reduce or decrease the growth of a particular follicle to help grow hair. By stimulating hair growth through the blocking of specific receptors this hair loss product can be reasonably successful.

The important idea to remember when using any of these hair loss products is that there is no guaranteed, tried and true, safe product on the market today. There are many hair loss products that will claim the same things, but every head of hair is different and responds to different stimulants.


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Hair Loss Remedy

The importance of a good hair loss remedy is only as important as the understanding of the hair loss to begin with. If you donít understand why you are going bald or your hair is thinning then you wonít know what hair loss remedy is right for you. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what you see on the television, hear on the radio, or read in the magazines, hair loss is not caused by bad hair care it is most certainly a genetic curse.

Despite what you read or hear, hair loss is not just the passing down of genes from the motherís father, but it does sometimes skip a generation. It does not definitely skip a certain generation or even every other generation, but it does sometimes skip. A hair loss remedy will sometimes guarantee that it will cure a hair loss problem because it will cure your tendency to take unfit care of your hair, donít buy, this is not a problem caused by poor hair care.

With an abundance of hair loss remedies on the market today it is important to remember that there have only been two hair loss treatments to be approved by the FDA for sale, Rogaine and Propecia. A hair loss remedy like Rogaine or Propecia is approved by the FDA and has been proven to make a difference in the hair on a manís head. While these have been approved by the FDA, it does not guarantee that it is a hair loss remedy that will work for every consumer.

The only hair loss remedy that has been proven to work while agreeing that hair loss is completely genetic is surgical hair restoration. Surgical hair restoration is a hair loss remedy that removes pieces of skin, or grafts, and then places them over the balding areas. This works with the genetic hair loss belief because it uses the area that is strongest on any head of hair, even that of a balding man.



From the Doctors:

Hair Loss and Its Causes

What is the normal cycle of hair growth and loss? At any one time, about 10 percent of the hair on your scalp is in a resting phase. After 2 to 3 months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place. This growing phase lasts for 2 to 6 years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimeter per month during this phase. About 90 percent of the hair on your scalp is growing at any one time.

It is normal to shed some hair each day as part of this cycle. However, some people may experience excessive (more than normal) hair loss. Hair loss of this type can affect men, women and children.

What causes excessive hair loss? A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary.

Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment of the thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.

Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after they've had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again.

Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for gout, medicines used in chemotherapy to treat cancer, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants.

Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with antifungal medicines.

Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated.



Can improper care of my hair cause hair loss?

Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia (say: "al-oh-pee-sha"). If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called "perms") may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss.

What is common baldness?

The term "common baldness" usually means male-pattern baldness, or permanent-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head.

Women may develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp.

Can my doctor do something to stop hair loss?

Perhaps. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your diet, any medicines you're taking, whether you've had a recent illness and how you take care of your hair. If you're a woman, your doctor may ask questions about your menstrual cycle, pregnancies and menopause. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed.

Is there any treatment for hair loss? Depending on your type of hair loss, treatments are available. If a medicine is causing your hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Recognizing and treating an infection may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent further hair loss.

Medicines may help slow or prevent the development of common baldness. One medicine, minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women can use it. Another medicine, finasteride (brand name: Propecia) is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if one of these medicines is working.

If adequate treatment is not available for your type of hair loss, you may consider trying different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair weaves or artificial hair replacement.



Understanding Baldness

Baldness is a trait which involves the state of lacking hair where it often grows, especially on the head. The most common form of baldness is a progressive hair thinning condition called androgenic alopecia or 'male pattern baldness' that occurs in adult human males and some primate species. The severity and nature of baldness can vary greatly; it ranges from male and female pattern alopecia (androgenetic alopecia, also called androgenic alopecia or alopecia androgenetica), alopecia areata, which involves the loss of some of the hair from the head, and alopecia totalis, which involves the loss of all head hair, to the most extreme form, alopecia universalis, which involves the loss of all hair from the head and the body. Treatment for alopecia has limited success. The more hair lost, the less successful the treatment will be.

Etiology

Incidence of pattern baldness varies from population to population based on diet and personal habits. One large scale study in Maryborough, in central Victoria (Australia) showed the prevalence of mid-frontal hair loss increases with age and affects 57% of women and 73.5% of men aged 80 and over.

Male pattern baldness is characterized by hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead, known as "receding hairline" or "receding brow." An additional bald patch may develop on top (vertex). The trigger for this type of baldness (called androgenic alopecia because it is caused by male hormones or androgens) is DHT, a powerful sex hormone.

The mechanism by which DHT accomplishes this is not yet understood. In genetically-prone scalps, DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturization. Through the process of follicular miniaturization, hair shaft width is progressively decreased until scalp hair resembles fragile vellus hair or "peach fuzz" or else becomes non-existent. Onset of hair loss sometimes begins as early as end of puberty, and is mostly genetically determined. Male pattern baldness is classified on the Hamilton-Norwood scale I-VIII.

It was previously believed that baldness was inherited from a person's maternal grandfather. While there is some basis for this belief, both parents contribute to their offspring's likelihood of hair loss. Most likely, inheritance is technically "autosomal dominant with mixed penetrance" (see 'baldness folklore' below) There are several other kinds of baldness:

Traction alopecia is most commonly found in people with ponytails or cornrows who pull on their hair with excessive force. Wearing a hat shouldn't generally cause this, though it is a good idea to let your scalp breathe for 7 hours a day[citation needed]. Traumas such as chemotherapy, childbirth, major surgery, poisoning, and severe stress may cause a hair loss condition known as telogen effluvium.

Some mycotic infections can cause massive hair loss.[3] Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder also known as "spot baldness" that can result in hair loss ranging from just one location (Alopecia areata monolocularis) to every hair on the entire body (Alopecia areata universalis).

Localized or diffuse hair loss may also occur in cicatricial alopecia (lupus erythematosus, lichen plano pilaris, folliculitis decalvans, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, postmenopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, etc.). Tumours and skin outgrowths also induce localized baldness (sebaceous nevus, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma). Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss, especially thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows

Etymology

The term Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-she-uh) is formed from the Greek ŠŽĢūÁÓ (alopex), meaning fox. The origin of this usage is because this animal sheds its coat twice a year.

The term "bald" derives from the English word balde, which means "white."


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Approaches to baldness

Psychological implications The psychological implications for individuals experiencing hair loss vary widely. The most significant effect is a loss of self-confidence. This is enhanced by an insecure or ambivalent attachment pattern.

Retired NASA Astronaut Story Musgrave.Alopecia induced by cancer chemotherapy has been reported to cause changes in self-concept and body image. Body image does not return to the previous state after regrowth of hair for a majority of patients. In such cases, patients have difficulties expressing their feelings (what is called alexithymia) and may be more prone to avoiding family conflicts. Family therapy can help families to cope with these psychological problems if they arise.

Psychological problems due to baldness, if present, are typically most severe at the onset of symptoms.

Some balding men may feel proud of their baldness, feeling a kindred relationship with famous charismatic bald film actors such as Yul Brynner, Vin Diesel, Michael Chiklis, Telly Savalas, Ben Kingsley, Patrick Stewart or Bruce Willis; or politicians such as Ed Koch; or sportsmen such as wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin or tennis star Andre Agassi. Much of these celebrities' perceived masculinity and handsomeness derives from their most obvious distinguishing feature. This is not yet true for women, as there are few female celebrities who are bald by choice, chemotherapy or genetics/environment.

Many companies have built a successful business selling products that reverse baldness, by allegedly regrowing hair, transplanting hair or selling hairpieces.


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Preventing and reversing hair loss

Main article: Baldness treatments It is easier to prevent the falling out of healthy hairs than to regrow hair in follicles that are already dormant. Finasteride (marketed in the U.S. as Propecia) and minoxidil (marketed in the U.S. as Rogaine, and some places as Regaine) have shown some success in partially reversing loss. In a one one-year study of finasteride, evaluation after one year showed five of 21 subjects (23.8%) had two-grade improvement in MNHS grade on a modified Norwood/Hamilton scale and 12 of 21 subjects (57.1%) had one-grade improvement; the others remained at the same grade.[6] However such treatments are generally ineffective at treating extreme cases of hair loss.[7]

Surgery is another method of reversing hair loss and baldness, although it may be considered an extreme measure. The surgical methods used include hair transplantation, where patches of skin with hair are moved from one part of the head to another.

Looking forward, the prospective treatment of hair multiplication/hair cloning, which extracts self-replenishing follicle stem cells, multiplies them many times over in the lab, and microinjects them into the scalp, has been shown to work in mice, and is currently under development, expected by some scientists to be available to the public in 2009-2015. Subsequent versions of the treatment are expected by some scientists to be able to cause these follicle stem cells to simply signal the surrounding hair follicles to rejuvenate.*

Topical application of ketoconazole, which is both an anti-fungal and a potent 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, is often used as a supplement to other approaches.

Interestingly, placebo treatments in studies often have reasonable success rates, though not as high as the products being tested, and even similar side-effects as the products. For example, in Finasteride (propecia) studies, the percent of patients with any drug-related sexual adverse experience was 3.8% compared with 2.0% in the placebo group.

Regular aerobic exercise can help keep androgen levels naturally lower while maintaining overall health and lowering stress, though weight training may have a detrimental effect on hair by increasing testosterone levels.


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Stress reduction can be helpful in slowing hair loss.

Immunosuppresants applied to the scalp have been shown to temporarily reverse hair loss, though the possibly lethal side effects of this treatment make it untenable.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is an herbal DHT inhibitor often claimed to be cheaper and have fewer side effects than finasteride and dutasteride. Unlike other 5alpha-reductase inhibitors, Serenoa repens induces its effects without interfering with the cellular capacity to secrete PSA.[9] Saw palmetto extract has been demonstrated to inhibit both isoforms of 5-alpha-reductase unlike finasteride which only inhibits the (predominant) type 2 isoenzyme of 5-alpha-reductase.

Polygonum Multiflorum is a traditional Chinese cure for hair loss. Whether the plant itself is useful, the general safety and quality control of herbs imported from China can be questionable.

Beta Sitosterol, which is a constituent in many seed oils, can help to treat BHP by lowering cholesterol. If used for this purpose, an extract is best. Consuming large amounts of oil to get at small quantities of beta sitosterol is likely to exacerbate male pattern baldness.

Resveratrol, from grape skins, is a lipase inhibitor. By decreasing the body's ability to absorb fat through the intestine walls, it reduces the total fat and calorie content of a person's diet.

While drastic, broad spectrum anti-androgens such as flutamide are sometimes used topically. Flutamide is potent enough to have a feminizing effect in men, including growth of the breasts.

In March 2006, Curis announced that it had received the first preclinical milestone, a $1,000,000 cash payment, in its hair growth program with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, a division of The Procter & Gamble Company. The program is focused on the potential development of a topical Hedgehog agonist for hair growth disorders, such as male pattern baldness and female hair loss.[13]

In October 2006, UK biotechnology firm Intercytex announced they have successfully tested a method of removing hair follicles from the back of the neck, multiplying them and then reimplanting the cells into the scalp (Hair multiplication). The initial testing resulted in 70% of male patients regrowing hair. This treatment method is expected to be available to the public by 2009 [1][2].


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Concealing hair loss

Head

John D. Rockefeller, who had alopecia universalis, with toupeeOne method of hiding hair loss is the "comb over", which involves restyling the remaining hair to cover the balding area. It is usually a temporary solution, useful only while the area of hair loss is small. As the hair loss increases, a comb over becomes less effective. When this reaches a stage of extreme effort with little effect--it can make the person the object of teasing or scorn.

Another method is to wear a hat or a hairpiece - a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. In the United States, the best wigs - those that look like real hair - cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations such as Wigs for Kids and Locks of Love collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment in addition to any type of hair loss.

Eyebrows

Though not as common as the loss of hair on the head, chemotherapy, hormone imbalance, forms of alopecia, and other factors can also cause loss of hair in the eyebrows. Artificial eyebrows are available to replace missing eyebrows or to cover patchy eyebrows.


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Embracing baldness

Of course, instead of concealing hair loss, one may embrace it. A shaved head will grow stubble in the same manner and at the same rate as a shaved face. Many celebrities and athletes shave their heads. They spread the message of baldness by shaving the heads of adults to raise money for curing childhood cancer, which often causes children to lose their hair (see Head shaving). Female baldness is less socially accepted. Sharon Blynn, Bald Is Beautiful founder and an ovarian cancer survivor whose motto is "Always smile from the inside out!" encourages women to define beauty for themselves on their own terms.


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Baldness folklore

There are many myths regarding the possible causes of baldness and its relationship with one's virility, intelligence, ethnicity, job, social class, wealth etc. While skepticism is warranted due to lack of scientific validation, some of these myths may have a degree of underlying truth.

"You inherit baldness from your mother's father." Previously, early baldness of the androgenic type was thought to be sex linked dominant in males and to be sex linked recessive in females.

Research suggests that the gene for the androgen receptor, which is significant in determining probability for hair loss, is located on the X chromosome and so is always inherited from the mother's side.[14]There is a 50% chance that a person shares the same X chromosome as their maternal grandfather. Because women have two X chromosomes, they will have two copies of the androgen receptor gene while men only have one.

However research has also shown that a person with a balding father also has a significantly greater chance of experiencing hair loss.

"Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness."

This myth probably was inspired by the fact that the human brain is located inside the skull, very close and just below where hair grows, and so it was thought that the use and abuse as well as mental diseases could have negative effect on hair growth and number.[citation needed] It may also be due to the fact that cholesterol is involved in the process of neurogenesis and also the base material from which the body ultimately manufactures DHT. While the notion that bald men are more intelligent may lack credibility in the modern world, in the ancient world if a person was bald it was likely that he had an adequate amount of fat in his diet. Thus, his mental development was probably not stunted by malnutrition during his crucial formative years, he was more likely to be wealthy, and also have had access to a formal education. However a sedentary lifestyle is less likely to correlate with intelligence in the modern world, and dietary fat content is less strongly linked to economic class in developed countries.

This is sometimes used as a stereotype in films, where the more intellectual or rather frustrated characters are most usually portrayed as bald and generally unattractive, as opposed to the main characters which are usually portrayed as attractive, fit, mentally stable and generally with no apparent hair problems. This same myth normally extends to considering people having intellectual jobs more prone to baldness problems compared to manual laborers, sometimes further extending the myth to male college or university students when compared to workers of the same age.[citation needed] The myth is suspect because counterexamples can be found in any case.

There is evidence, confirmed by cross cultural studies, for an association between androgen levels and intellectual ability. These findings are controversial due to their implications regarding psychology and gender.

Total testosterone exhibits a positive relation to tactual-spatial abilities and to the degree of lateralization. Total testosterone is negatively correlated with verbal fluency. Testosterone in the saliva is also significantly positively correlated to tactual-spatial test scores and, in addition, to field independence. DHT and the ratio DHT/total testosterone are positively related to verbal fluency and negatively to the degree of lateralization of tactual-spatial performance.

"Baldness can be caused by emotional stress, sexual frustration etc."

Emotional stress has been shown to accelerate baldness in genetically susceptible individuals.

Stress due to sleep deprivation in military recruits lowered testosterone levels, but is not noted to have effected SHBG.[18] Thus, stress due to sleep deprivation in fit males is unlikely to elevate DHT. Whether it can cause hair loss by some other mechanism is not clear.

"Bald men are more "virile" or sexually active than others." Levels of free testosterone are strongly linked to libido and also DHT levels, but unless free testosterone is virtually non-existent levels have not been shown to affect virility. Men with androgenic alopecia are more likely to have a higher baseline of free androgens. However sexual activity is multifactoral, and androgenic profile is also not the only determining factor in baldness. Additionally, because hair loss is progressive and free testosterone declines with age, a person's hairline may be more indicative of their past than present disposition.

"Shaving hair makes it grow back stronger"

Proposed as a popular remedy against baldness, it's very probably just an illusion similar to the one perceived after shaving one's beard or mustache. Shaving one's head doesn't increase the number of healthy hair present on the scalp, and, after the remaining hair has grown a few millimeters, no enhancement in thickness or overall quality can be observed.

"Frequent ejaculation causes baldness"

There are many misconceptions about what can help prevent hairloss, one of these being that frequent ejaculation may have an influence on MPB. While ejaculation significantly lowers levels of relaxin (a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor) in a male's body and causes testosterone levels to temporarily elevate, the claim that frequent ejaculations can cause baldness is often viewed with skepticism. Higher free testosterone levels may correlate with both hairloss and increased sex drive in predisposed individuals.

"Standing on one's head alleviates baldness"

The "blood-flow" theory, which led men to stand on their heads in the 1980's, can be found in the advertising for many of the fake hair-loss treatments for sale on the internet. While Minoxidil is a vasodilator and is speculated to work, in part, by increasing blood flow to hair follicles, there is no evidence that standing on one's head can alleviate baldness.

"Tight hats cause baldness."

This one probably started in the military where young men entering the service were required to wear hats and soon showed signs of going bald, or at least of hair thinning. This is due to coincidental timing. The age that young men enter the military is also the same age that male pattern hair loss begins. This is due to dihydrotestosterone, not hats. Hats do cause hair breakage and, to a lesser degree, split ends. Since hats are not washed as frequently as other clothing, they can also lead to scalp uncleanliness and possible P. ovale contamination in men with naturally oily scalps.



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