Losing hair on a daily basis is natural. You may often find yourself shedding bits of your hair onto your bed every morning, whether that may be on your scalp, beard, or body.
If you find that you are shedding way more hair than normal, and at a much faster rate, then you may be balding.
We’re here to remind you that you are not alone. A balding head is a very common occurrence for anybody going through life. The older you get, the more susceptible you are to hair loss, regardless if you are a male or female.
This article will give you a comprehensive overlook of the process of balding, and what you can do to help prevent any further shedding.
What Is Balding?
Balding occurs as a result of excessive hair loss from the scalp, usually referred to as side effects caused by either androgenetic alopecia or male- and female pattern baldness.
Baldness is a symptom of hair loss, however that needs to be distinguished from the day-to-day loss of hair that most of us experience. Did you know that an average person loses up to 100 hairs per day?
Baldness is accepted by some. It is usually an effect of aging and is the term used to describe hair loss. Although some people try to appreciate being bald and accept it as their new look and identity, others are caused a great deal of distress.
Hair loss affects not only men but women too. In fact, millions of both men and women are affected by hair loss every year. Yet, despite this fact, we are still no closer to a cure other than cosmetic procedures or medications that may help promote hair growth.
Often, hair loss and balding are related to genetic factors. However, balding could also be a result of an underlying medical condition or side effects from a medication. Why don’t we look at a few common causes of hair loss?
- Androgenetic Alopecia – This is the main cause of balding for both men and women and results in either male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness.
- Cancer treatment – both medical chemotherapy and radiology can result in alopecia and hair loss
- Weight loss
- Iron deficiency
As you can see, hair loss and baldness do not discriminate. Almost anyone can be affected by it, and you can either choose to embrace it and leave your alopecia untreated, or seek professional help.
Before searching for any medical help for hair loss, we recommend you book a consultation with your general practitioner to discuss the best options for you.
Symptoms In Men And Women
There is certain stigma about balding and hair loss only affecting men, as most people would picture a bald man when the topic of balding is brought up.
Did you know that around 85% of men will have experienced hair thinning or balding throughout their growing age, and over 40% of hair loss sufferers are women.
What most people do not realise, is that women are just as affected by balding as men are. Although hair loss is the same for both men and women, the conditions which lead to the loss of hair vary slightly, as well as the balding pattern that may occur.
Baldness In Men
Baldness in men is classified using a scale known as the Hamilton-Norwood scale. This scale focuses on recognising hair loss causes in young males and differentiating the patterns of balding:
- Temples – In men, the hair can start thinning around the temples and the crown of your head, usually forming a common bald spot
- Receding Hairline – Hair at the front of your head starts thinning and moves your hairline back
- Top of the head – Overtime, hair in males can start thinning, especially on the top of your head.
Balding in men varies from person to person. The three patterns of balding described above can either all happen or only one of which can affect somebody.
Balding would occur because of a variety of reasons described above, such as genetic causes and natural causes. For men, this loss of hair can cause detrimental damage to self esteem and may even lead to them suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Baldness In Women
Balding in women can start from an early age as 12 all the way to the later age of 40 (sorry).
As we have established, balding in men is classified using the Hamilton-Nowrood scale. Baldness in women, however, is classified using another scale called the Ludwig scale. This scale helps us identify the type of balding pattern women are affected by and how we can identify hair loss causes young females suffer from.
The Ludwig scale is classified in three stages:
- The first grade defines the initial process of balding. This thinning can usually be camouflaged using various store-bought hair treatments.
- Grade two is characterised by a more noticeable thinning of hair. An example would be the middle parting becoming wider.
- The third grade is what is know as diffuse thinning. Here the hair is thin enough that parts of the scalp can be seen.
Women can indeed be affected by conditions that result in balding similarly to those that men suffer from. For example, androgenetic alopecia is caused by excessive male hormones which promote the thinning of hair. Women also do contain these hormones and therefore can suffer from female pattern baldness similarly to male pattern suffered by men.
As discussed, the roots of balding can start from birth. You may have been passed on certan genes which promote hair loss and hair thinning.
There are other causes of balding out there that can also affect both men and women. These types of balding and hair loss could be caused by the likes of physical injury, medication, or underlying conditions.
Let’s take a quick recap into genetics. When you are born, you inherit X and Y chromosomes from your mother and father, respectively.
Unfortunately, baldness is heavily associated with a gene called the AR gene which is found on the X chromosome. In fact, studies have confirmed that having this gene can more than double your risk of developing male pattern baldness.
This is not the only gene that can determine the outcome of your hair. There are 63 other genes which have been found to lead to genetic balding, only six of which are found on the X chromosome!
Unfortunately, the genetic factors of female pattern baldness is still relatively unknown, but is still thought to be a result of multiple genes.
Various lifestyle habits can alter your hair growth and result in baldness. For example, those who consume vegetarian or vegan diets may consume less protein and zinc which leads to hair shedding and thinning.
Going to the gym will not cause hair loss, however, some people may be bodybuilding and begin to use certain anabolic steroids to promote muscle growth. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is unhealthy for a variety of reasons and can lead to hair loss.
Both physical and emotional stress can lead to hair loss, and it is therefore vital you try your best to relax. Try methods such as meditation, exercising, or even writing a daily journal to help you combat your daily stress and prevent unnecessary causes of hair loss.
Unfortunately, hair loss caused due to genetic reasons is permanent. The process of hair loss can however be slowed down.
- Reducing stress – Try to balance out your work-play schedule and ensure to exercise plenty. Follow a healthy routine. This may or may not work for you as all individuals react differently to changes in their lifestyle.
- Topical medications – you can try using medicated shampoos such as caffeine shampoo or a medication known as minoxidil which is applied directly to the affected area.
- Oral medications – following a consultation with your doctor you may be able to get a private course of oral medications to slow down your hair loss.
- Cosmetic procedures – from hair transplants to non-surgical methods, a consultation with your nearest cosmetic clinic can show you the best options to help prevent and slow down hair loss.
Common Areas That Experience Hair Loss
When we talk about balding, most of us generally assume that we are referring to the balding of the scalp. We never assume that hair loss causes receding hairline or even beard balding.
Although hair loss doesn’t occur overnight, you can still monitor your hair loss progression by taking photos months or even years apart. You can then compare these photos to descriptions found in the Hamilton-Norwood or the Ludwig scales in order to identify the degree of hair loss you are expecting.
If you realise that other parts of your body seemed to be thinning of hair, for example your chest, legs, or other regions, you can be sure to take photos and compare over certain time durations. Just make sure not to share any sensitive photos to your family group chat by accident.
Back Of The Head
When the back of your head is balding, it most commonly occurs in the area right at the top of the back of your head. This area is called the crown.
This type of balding can occur in both females and males. Crown balding causes include genetic factors, trauma, or underlying medical conditions.
This area of your head is usually the most exposed to sunlight too, which can affect various hormones around your follicles, especially Dihydrotestosterone.
Body Hair Loss
You can lose hair in parts of your body such as your trunk (torso, back) and your legs. Hair loss body causes can vary from genetic factors to hormone imbalances. The hair on your body and legs is usually thicker and more noticiable when it thins.
The causes for body hair less for both men and women can vary depending on the condition one is suffering from. For example, Polycystic ovary syndrome in females which is not experienced in males.
Bald Spots And Pattern Hair Loss
The sudden discovery of bald patches on your body and scalp can be a sign of a condition called alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is a chronic condition that affects your hair follicles. This type of hair losses causes patches and bald spots to occur. Alopecia areta does not discriminate between male and female.
Receding Hair Line
Receding hair lines are the most common type of baldness witnessed, especially in younger males as your friends are never too shy to point out the balding at the front of your head.
Receding hair lines occur due to thinning of hair around the front and the sides of the scalp, which causes front of head balding and results in an “M” shape around your scalp.
We can be sure to say that beard hair loss is more prevalent in men than in women. This type of hair loss indicates hair loss on beard and facial features such as a moustache.
Sometimes hair loss can be isolated to only your beard. The mechanism of the cause of this is still unknown, however, has been linked to stress and other physiological factors.
General Thinning Of Hair
A common sign of a balding head; thin hair! The general thinning of hair is a process of naturally growing old. It happens over time to over 85% of males and 45% of females, so do not be alarmed if you’re experiencing any symptoms which we have extensively discussed.
Now that we have looked at the symptoms of balding, why don’t we take a look at some treatments that don’t include an irrational balding head shave. Balding head treatment can vary from medication and herbal remedies to more complex cosmetic proceures which we will break down below.
There are two main medicines used to treat balding in both men and women. These are finasteride and minoxidil (rogaine).
Finasteride was discovered accidentally as a treatment for hair growth. Finasteride works by reducing the amount of dihydrotesterone in your body which results in less damage to hair follicles by up to 60%. Finasteride does not work for women. It should be avoided in women of childbearing age due to its teratogenectiy.
Minoxidil, branded Rogaine, is used more commonly to treat balding. It is used as a foam or lotion on the scalp. This helps increase blood flow to the scalp and promote hair growth. The benefits of minoxidil are temporary and therefore treatment should be continuous.
There are multiple hair transplant procedures out there that you can pick from in order to help restore volume to your scalp. These methods are newer and more advanced than the traditional hair plugs used in the 1950s.
The first, and most common, is the FUT hair transplant. The follicular unit transplant is a procedure during which your surgeon will use tiny excisions to the donor area (usually an area with more hair on your scalp) and take the follicles out. They will place the healthy folicles in a plasma substance and then implant them into the area of transplant.
Another common procedure is the FUE method. Although slightly more expensive, this procedure is less invasive and directly implants the follicles from the donor area to the recipient area.
If you are interested to find out about these procedures in more detail, make sure to bring up a list of questions to ask your surgeon during your consultation.
With the advancement in technology comes the advancement in medical procedures. Nowadays people are producing more and more cosmetic procedures that are less invasive and give you an array of benefits.
For example, alternative hair treatments to those described above could be:
- Scalp micropigmentation – placing coloured pigments in areas of follicles (lasts around 6 years)
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) – help prompt hair regrowth by improving blood flow to areas in need
- Laser Treatment – A safe none-invasive procedure that promotes blood flow to areas of thinning hair
And many more! Make sure that you monitor your balding patterns and make an appointment with a GP before deciding which treatment is best for you!