We all get older. It’s one of the things we can count on in life. Some people are excited to grow up. It means staying out late and doing things you couldn’t as a kid. Others wish they could return to childhood, to that doe-eyed sense of naïve bliss.
Everyone ages differently. Some people seem to perpetually look like high school students, while others have deep lines and wrinkles. One of the most common signs of aging is hair loss. Baldness affects as many as two-thirds of men over the age of 60. Even some women—about one in four—will suffer some form of hair loss by age 50. Believe it or not, some men and women lose their hair even earlier in their 20s and 30s.
For those not so fond of hair loss, there are numerous methods for restoring hair such as surgical or non-surgical hair replacement. However, as ominous as the numbers might seem, understand that hair loss is natural, and to many people, baldness is actually a distinguished trait.
Understanding Hair Loss
Hair is made up of a protein known as keratin, which is the same material that makes up fingernails and the outer layer of human skin. The hair that we see actually consists of long strings of dead keratin cells, which makes sense; otherwise, haircuts would be entirely painful affairs. As hair follicles grow new hair, old hair is pushed out of the skin in the head, which happens at an average rate of seven inches a year.
Of the over 100,000 hairs on your head, you will shed about 100 strands of hair over the course of the day. Before you panic, understand that this is perfectly normal and that your hair is constantly restoring itself.
As you age, your hair will gradually thin out. This is known as involutional alopecia and leads to loss of hair around the crown and temples. Just about everyone will experience thinning hair in old age, but what about losing hair even younger?
Am I Too Young to be Balding?
Although baldness generally affects older individuals, premature balding is not at all unheard of.
- The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as pattern baldness. Female pattern baldness tends to occur after menopause, while male pattern baldness can happen in a man’s 20s, if not earlier. The main thing to understand about pattern baldness is that it is genetic.
Androgenetic alopecia is caused by the presence of excess hormones, namely testosterone and DHT, which drastically affect hair’s growth cycle. The hormones cause hair to shed more rapidly, simultaneously killing hair follicles. This leads to baldness in the front and top of the scalp, leaving the sides relatively intact.
- Certain medications can cause premature hair loss as well. Supplements for thyroid hormones can cause hair to shed, though conjointly, a lack of thyroid hormone can also lead to baldness. Medications for chemotherapy will, of course, lead to premature hair loss as well, though this is usually temporary. Some antidepressants and medications for mood disorders and seizures can also potentially lead to hair loss. Most of these pharmaceuticals will list hair loss as a potential side effect though.
- Trichotillomania is a disorder noted by a compulsive desire to pull out one’s hair. This disorder is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder and can generally be treated with therapy and antidepressants. Excessive hair pulling can damage the follicles, enough to the point that they cease to function.
- Malnutrition can also play a factor in premature hair loss. Remember that what you put into your body affects all of its functions, which includes hair growth. Your body needs to absorb a regular supply of vitamins and minerals. Lack of proper nutrition means your hair has nothing to sustain itself on.
- Stress and emotional instability can have very real physical effects on your body, including hair loss. Excessive stress can force hair follicles into the resting phase. This can result in molting or massive hair loss. This condition is known as telogen effluvium and usually follows major stressful events or severe illnesses. Over time, the condition should reverse and your hair should grow back. In the mean time, make sure to calm down and try not to worry too much.
Sometimes premature hair loss occurs even without any of the above causes. In any case, it may be best to assess your lifestyle and make any changes that you feel could be deteriorating your health and the health of your hair. You can always schedule a consultation with us to talk about your hair restoration options as well.