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Hair Here-Gone tomorrow
Hair loss occurs in all males. For most males in their youth and adolescence, it is a very painful process. For males, hair exemplifies the entire persona- his looks, youth, power, intelligence and his machismo. Hair sells- man with hair are more likely to move up the ladder in terms of money, job position, and even score more often with the females. SO one can imagine what hair loss does- for someone like me who was already handicapped with thick glasses in my late teens, it was a nightmare- a catastrophe in my prime. Only the rare man is not troubled by hair loss. Most suffer despair, emotional turbulence, loss of confidence, depression and a lot of other things- all negative. And this feeling, I believe is applicable to most men
The hair loss in most cases is noticed by an increase numbers of hair loss during combing. Soon, the scalp beings to thin and the results are obvious. Some men learn to live with it, some try and cry silently, some cover up the head and some go for treatment for hair growth. Unfortunately, we are a long ways from a medication that can grow hair. We have developed the technology to send men to the moon and look at heavens millions of years away from us (unless NASA is lying about that too), but we still do not have a cure for hair loss. Of course, there are medications and medications, and herbs and nutrients, but none of them work- at least no one will ever get back the hair they lost.
A single new hair growing here and there is the best what these medications will do. There are countless agents and hair cures all over the internet and touted by the pharmaceutical industry- but all of them lack any scientific evidence and are not worth a dime. You may as well drink cow’s urine or yours- but hair once gone is hard to get back. The hair industry is a billion dollar business because men, it appears can’t live without two things- women and hair.
Hair may start to disappear from the front and the sides of the head at any time. For a few men this process starts as early as the late teenage years, but for most it happens in their early 20s and early 30s. A little thinning of the hair may be noticeable first, followed by wider hair loss allowing more of the scalp to shine.
About ¼ men start the process of losing hair in their early 30s and 2/3s of these men are bald by the 50-60s. Why hair loss occurs is not known (medicine is full of mysteries). It is always blamed on genes and hormones- the same explanation goes for most of medicine).
Androgenic hair loss is a common disorder universally. Almost 40 million men have that problem in
alone. Almost one in very 2 males has this problem sometime during their life. And most of these men have been searching for cures worldwide- there is none.
Every drug, chemical postulated to cure hair loss, has in most instances been just that- a false claim prying on desperate men trying to counter an irreversible process. From drinking one’s urine to eating a tiger’s penis- all have been claimed to be the magical cure. And the drug industry does not fair any better. They are the biggest charlatans among them all.
The two drugs available today for hair growth, do little more than grow a hair here and there, and they are not only expensive but have to be applied or taken in orally for a life time- hair loss sure sucks.
Myths about hair loss
Hair loss has been associated with more myths and folklore all which are based on superstition and ignorance. Excess shampooing, daily washing, the type of shampoo, use of hair dryer, the type of soap, use of towel, the hardness or softness of the water, the geographical area where one lives, ethnicity, eating herbs, cleansing the bowels once a week, not cleaning the backside after poop and even excessive masturbation has been blamed on hair loss. Like I mentioned before-bad genes, bad hormones and a lot of bad luck are the real answers to hair loss.
How does hair loss occur
At any one point in time, the majority of hair on the scalp is in a growth phase (anagen). This growth phase lasts anywhere from 2-6 years. About 10% of the scalp hair are in a resting phase (telogen) which lasts about 2-4 months. After this time, the hair is shed and a new cycle begins. Most individuals shed about 30-150 hairs everyday. After a single hair is shed, a new hair follicle replaces the same hair and the cycle begins again. Most hair grow at about 10 mm per month
In any individual who sheds hair faster than the hair regrowth, then baldness will occur. Initially the hair loss is gradual and then suddenly increases.
Types of hair loss
Hair loss is known as alopecia. The most common type of hair loss is known as male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). This is the most common type of hair loss in men and affects nearly 40-50% of males. The hair loss is permanent. The other type of hair loss is called alopecia areata- which commonly affects hair growth on different parts of the body besides the scalp and the disorder is temporary.
Male pattern baldness (Androgenic alopecia)
Those individual who develop androgenic alopecia may experience hair loss as early as the early teenage years. The hair loss gets more progressive through the ensuing years and the results become more noticeable on the scalp. The hair loss typically begins at the temples and crown. The end result of the hair loss is partial or complete baldness by the 30s to early 40s. This is an irreversible process-permanent.
The androgenic variety of alopecia has a familial connection but the actual pattern of genetic inheritance remains unknown. This type of hair loss is common in both males and females, but females rarely go bald. If anyone in the family is bald, then one can rest assured that other male members of the family will have the same unfortunate event occur sometime. In most cases, when there is male pattern baldness in the family, the hair loss typically occurs at a much younger age and a lot faster.
Alopecia areata is associated with temporary hair loss from the face and other areas of the body. The condition happens suddenly and results in patchy hair loss. The hair loss may be on the face or parts of the scallop. The area becomes completely devoid of hair follicles and appears smooth and white.
The cause of alopecia areata is unknown. But here are many speculations. Some claim that it is related to stress, a viral infection and other claim that it is autoimmune (your own body’s cell react and kill the hair cells) or bad luck. The hair loss occurs suddenly and most men are in good health and young. It is not known if there is a genetic link with alopecia areata. The good thing about the disorder is that the condition is temporary and the hair does grow back. In most cases, the hair loss persists for a few months and then all of a sudden the hair reappears. The condition can recur a few times.
Other causes of temporary hair loss include:
- Medical disorders like lupus, diabetes or hypothyroidism. In all these conditions, the hair loss is transient and as the condition improves, so does the hair growth.
- Inadequate or poor nutrition is also a cause of hair loss. In this cases, the hair loss is not isolated to the scalp but over the entire body. The hair is present is severely thinned out. Hair loss due to poor nutrition is seen in bulimia, anorexia or significant starvation. The condition does reverse when nutrition is improved.
The big question everyone wants to know “is there a treatment for hair growth”. Unfortunately no. The medications available today may grow a hair here and there in a few people and that is about all the hair one will ever see. Todate, there are no cures for hair loss. There are temporary solutions, some of which may help. For those with alopecia areata- one does not need any treatment as the hair will grow back sometime in future.
Despite all the razzmatazz about the medications by the drug industry, they are all ineffective and expensive. It is the very rare individual who will regain hair growth after use of these medications and this is more pure luck than any credit to the medications. None of these medications work if there is baldness. It is hard to find any one individual (who is honest) to have any sort of significant hair growth after using these medications.
The drugs approved for the treatment of alopecia are:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine). This medication was associated with a lot of hype but never lived up to its expectations. It can be used to treat both types of alopecia. It comes as a liquid and is applied on the scalp twice a day. It is available over the counter in strengths of 2-5%. It is approved for the treatment of androgenic alopecia and alopecia areata. It is difficult to find anyone (at least those not paid by the industry) who has evidence of any hair growth after use of this medication. The industry claims that new hair after application of minoxidil is thinner and shorter than previous hair. The hair growth stops once the use of the mediation is stopped. The only side effect is an irritation or dryness of the scalp.
· Finasteride (Propecia). Finasteride is another medication which has been approved for male pattern baldness. It is taken as an oral pill. Some individuals do claim hair growth and the results take at least 2-4 months to show. Finasteride works by inhibiting the conversion of the male testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that decreases hair growth. For some men there may be some hair growth but the medication also causes a decrease in sex drive- a high price to pay for some hair follicles. As with minoxidil, the benefits of Finasteride stop if you stop using it. The drug is only approved for use in men.
The only modality that can bring back hair is surgery. Surgery is for individuals with the androgenic variety and not alopecia areata. There are various methods of hair transplant and all of them have their pros and cons. In general, hair is taken from the back or the sides, either as a single plug or multiple plugs and inserted in the front.
There are numerous technical advances and overall most patients remain satisfied. The optimal results do not show hair growth for about 6-12 months. Several sessions are required and the cost can start at $5000 and can easily range into $ 20,000- not a cheap undertaking for a product with no guarantee of satisfaction.
Other surgeons reduce the size of the frontal scalp and move part of the hair containing scalp forward, thus giving an illusion that there is a lot of hair. Again, not a cheap undertaking. Having undergone the procedure, I can attest that the procedure is less than thrilling. It is quite painful, expensive and the results are modest at best.
Almost every type of doctor in the field of cosmetic now performs hair transplantation and the majority are average surgeons. Before one decides on this expensive undertaking, please do your research well both on the doctor, his results and whether it is worth going through a real pain.
Wigs and hairpieces
For those who can’t bear to be bald, the cheapest and best alternative is wigs and hair pieces .These wigs are available all over the place and can cover the baldness. Naturally looking hair pieces are available and can be quite costly. One then leads a hidden closet life and becomes an indoor introvert.
These real-life like hair pieces are now available for $5-1000 and have to be replaced every 3-6 months. One can’t do all those fun things like exercise or swim with them, and most of the wig wearers instead turn to the internet still surfing for a cure for baldness-the agony never ends.
Coping with hair loss
Losing hair is a miserable experience and one filled with anxiety, depression and loss of confidence. Hair loss typically occurs to males in their prime and is a very frustrating disorder to deal with. No matter what others say, hair loss is the Achilles heel of most men and coping is difficult. Many suggestions have been made to cope with hair loss and this includes joining a support group, discuss with family and friends and learn more about the disorder. Only time heals the pain of hair loss.
For those intent on having hair, the time to start drug therapy is when there is still some hair left on the head. For completely bald people, the options are limited to wigs and wearing a hat or accept a hairless scalp. Few insurance plans cover drug therapy and one needs to take the drugs forever to get the benefits and maintain them. The drugs are not cheap and there is no guarantee of hair growth. For a years supply, Rogaine may cost 2-300$ and Propecia can cost 7-1000$. Neither of these medications is covered by any medical insurance.
Today, baldness has been glamorized and been made to look cool by personalities like Yul Bryner, Michael Jordan and Telly Salavas. Hell, these guys made millions of dollars flaunting their looks only after they became famous. I bet these same guys would still be surfing the net like the rest of us if they had not made it. For even one hundredth of the money these guys made, I would have flaunted my naked body- forget the bald head.
While current research efforts are making some headway, a cure for baldness is light years away. Various drugs are available but less than 5% of individuals have any significant hair growth. The treatment can become expensive in the long run with no guarantee on the results. While accepting baldness may not be appealing solution to all men, it may save one the aggravation of searching for an illusive cure. The best advice is save one’s money and know that big, blonde or bald- it is not the hair that makes a men but the soul.