6 Signs of Hair Loss
Ever seen someone with a perfect hairstyle and wondered how to emulate it but realise that your hair is not as thick or full to even begin? Then you start thinking that you are losing way too much hair! Is this a sign? Then again, you are only in your 20s or early 30s so you can’t be balding, right? Hair loss only happens to middle-aged men right?
HAIR LOSS BEGINS EARLIER THAN WE THINK
The thing about hair loss is that it can occur at any age – not just to middle-aged men. Often there are no other symptoms other than the physical loss of hair so it’s important to watch out for the early signs of hair loss so it can be dealt with before it gets too far advanced.
According to research1 conducted in the US, around 30 per cent of men today have started losing or have lost their hair to a great degree by the time they reach the age of 30. This percentage rises proportionately with age and extrapolating this, half of the male population would have shed their locks by 50.
Variations are seen around the world. For instance men of Chinese or Japanese ancestry are less likely to be affected3. Scientists think Asian men have less of this enzyme in their follicles, which is why they are more prone to keeping hair than Caucasian men3,4.
One of the reasons why hair loss is more prevalent in males is because enzymes in male bodies convert testosterone – the principal male sex hormone - into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that, among other things, causes male pattern baldness by making hair shorter and thinner2.
6 EARLY SIGNS OF HAIR LOSS
So what are some of the ways to know if you’re losing more hair than you should? Or that you would likely be facing hair loss problems in future?
We’ve compiled a checklist of 6 self-help tests to help you detect early signs of hair loss.
1. Has any of your a closest friend or family member commented on your thinning hair? One obvious sign of hair loss is when your friend starts to notice the change before you do.
2. A receding hairline or widow’s peak* is a tell-tale sign of the early stages of hair loss but because hair loss is a gradual process, it may take a while before you realise what’s happening. A look in the mirror might confirm that your hairline has taken a major retreat away from your brow or if the hair at your temples has started to dwindle.
3. Compare a photo of yourself a year or two ago to now. You may be able to spot not only a receding hairline but possible thinning spots.
4. Look out for excessive hair on your pillow, the shower bed or in the bath plug, or on your hands when styling your hair in the morning.
5. Part your hair down the middle and pull on the hair to reveal your scalp. Do this regularly and see if you notice any changes in the width of the gap between the hairs. A widening gap revealing more of the scalp is an indicative sign of thinning hair which could lead to hair loss and possibly eventual baldness of the crown.
6. Observe your relative’s hair. While it’s true a key gene for baldness is on the X chromosome4, which you get from your mother, it is not the only genetic factor in play since men with bald fathers have an increase chance of going bald when compared to men whose fathers have a full set of hair. So a look at your family's locks may give you a better clue about the future of yours.
BETTER EARLY THAN LATE [AND BE SORRY]
If you feel that your hairline is moving further back or you are seeing more signs, it’s an indication of a possible hair loss condition, such as the male pattern baldness. There’s no need to worry though – although the condition is a progressive one, there are treatments available that have successfully and proven to improve hair loss conditions. As long as you seek the right advice and use the optimum hair loss treatment options to suit your particular pattern of hair loss, a receding hairline can be halted in its tracks, and in many cases hair can be regrown. In some cases, even a severe hair loss can be halted with the accurate and timely diagnosis from a trichologist. Don’t wait before it’s too late.
IS LOSING HAIR A BIG DEAL TO MEN?
When a man begins to go bald, two things go down the drain—his hair and his confidence. Some 62 percent of balding guys in a Spanish study said losing their locks could deflate their self-esteem. This isn't 21st-century superficiality: "Thick hair has always been associated with youth and masculinity," says Albert Mannes, Ph.D., a University of Pennsylvania researcher who's studied perceptions of balding5. "Hair loss signals aging."
WHY NOT WOMEN?
Because the male sexual hormone testosterone has the biggest impact on hair, women don’t lose hair the same way.
When women reach menopause, their levels of the female sex hormone estrogen drops, and the testosterone they always had in their bodies starts to have more effect.
This can lead to thinner hair growth for women, but it’s more equally distributed, rather than in a receding hair line as in men6.
Apart from menopause, postnatal hair loss may also occur for some due to due to hormonal imbalances from childbirth.
Where did the name “widow’s peak” come from?
According to a 19th century superstition, women with this physical feature would outlive their husbands, hence the name widow’s peak.
It is of course no prediction of longevity – simply a dominant genetic trait which can be seen in people of all ages and backgrounds all around the world.
Famous brandishers of the widow’s peak include Jude Law and John Travolta.
Editorial Credit: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com
1 i. Help with hair loss. Mounsey AL, Reed SW, American Family Physician, 2009, volume 80, number 4, pages 373-374.
ii. Androgenetic alopecia and current methods of treatment. Bienova M, Kucerova R, Fiuraskova M, Hajduch M, Kolar Z, Acta dermatovenerologica Alpina, Panonica, et Adriatica, 2005, volume 14, number 1, pages 5-8.
iii. DHT (Dihydrotestosterone): What Is DHT's Role In Male Pattern Baldness? Written by Tim Newman,Medical News Today, 2015
2 What is hair loss (alopecia)? What is baldness? Written by Christian Nordqvist, published medicalnewstoday.com/articles/70957
3 Takashima M, Iju K, Sudo M. Alopecia androgenica: its incidendce in Japanese and associated conditions. In: Orfanos CE, Montagna W, Stutgen G, editors. Hair research status and future aspects.Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 1981. pp. 287–293.
4 "Susceptibility variants for male-pattern baldness on chromosome 20p11." Nat. Genet. 2008 Nov ; 40(11) : 1279-81 Epub 2008 Oct 12 Abstract
5 Shorn Scalps and Perceptions of Male Dominance; Social Psychological and Personality Science; Albert E. Mannes, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
6 Androgenetic alopecia and current methods of treatment. Bienova M, Kucerova R, Fiuraskova M, Hajduch M, Kolar Z, Acta dermatovenerologica Alpina, Panonica, et Adriatica, 2005, volume 14, number 1, pages 7.