Hair loss: Dr Ranj discusses causes of male pattern baldness
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Male balding most typically occurs due to genetics or as a result of hormones. However, over the years many “old wives tales” have sprung up, some of which are commercialised upon in order to sell products.
However, Dr Earim Chaudry, of the men’s health platform Manual, points out the importance of separating the facts behind balding from fiction.
Dr Chaudry said: “Male balding can lead to a great deal of embarrassment and pain for many people, making it easy for companies promoting ‘miracle’ hair-growth serums to prey on those feeling vulnerable.
“Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to make your hair grow back thick and long once it has started to recede, but there are definitely precautions that can be taken as preventative measures.”
Having trawled the internet, Dr Chaudry and the team found six of the most “common myths’” surrounding male baldness and offered insight into the real causes behind hair loss.
Six balding “myths” to be aware of
1 Your mother is to blame for genetic hair loss
Genetic baldness is most often caused by the X chromosome, which is the female chromosome passed on from mothers.
As a result, mothers have taken the hit for being the source of blame for baldness.
Dr Chaudry said: “While there is a certain amount of truth behind this, the genetic trait can be passed down from either side of the family, and can even skip generations – meaning there could be no family pattern to refer to at all.
“A scale called the Norwood Scale is used to determine levels of male pattern baldness, which has seven different levels of severity.
“For example, if your hair begins to recede to a level two and your father still has lustrous locks, it doesn’t necessarily mean the gene has come from your mother, as a generation could have been skipped.”
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2 Baldness is caused by stress
Though there is “some slight truth” to the idea that stress may increase the risk of hair loss, this tends to be temporary hair loss rather than long-term.
Dr Chaudry explained: “When it comes to genetic or hormonal male pattern baldness, which can be permanent, stress does not play a part.
“Studies have shown that intense stress hormones can lead to a pause in the hair growth cycle, which can lead to hair shedding for a certain amount of time.
“However, stress cannot cause your hair to fall out immediately, as it does in films, or forever.”
3 Sun exposure can cause baldness
Too much exposure to sunshine can be dangerous for a number of reasons, particularly if you are not protecting yourself with suncream, sunglasses or a sun hat.
However, according to Dr Chaudry, it does “very little” to cause hair loss.
He said: “It is true that spending prolonged periods of time on a sunbed can make your hair lighter, drier, or even cause it to break off slightly.
“However, male pattern baldness is not affected by it.
“If you are somebody that likes to travel abroad a lot or works outdoors, it could be wise to invest in a deep conditioning mask to keep your hair glossy and moisturised.”
4 Wearing hats too often will make your hair thinner
According to Dr Chaudry, this is a “widespread” myth that is only based on a grain of truth.
He explained: “Many things can cause your hair to be pulled out, from having it tied up too tight, to bleaching it too regularly, to using heated tools on it too often – but this is not the same thing as genetic hair thinning.
“Hair being pulled out by something causing too much pressure to the hair follicles is known as ‘traction alopecia’, and it can be reversed by having a healthier hair routine and avoiding chemicals and aggressors that add stress to your strands.”
5 Washing your hair too regularly causes hair loss
Looking down while in the shower to notice hair clogging up the plughole is not uncommon, and can happen to both women and men.
Similarly, you might notice stray hairs in all corners of your home.
However, Dr Chaudry says this is not something to be worried about.
He said: “Hair shedding during washing and drying is totally normal, and would only cause genuine damage if your locks were already damaged by chemicals or something else adding pressure to your follicles.
“So, next time you are shampooing, try not to panic – most of us experience hair fall while washing.”
6 Too much testosterone leads to baldness
Though hair loss can be down to hormones, testosterone is not necessarily the culprit for thinning locks.
Dr Chaudry instead points to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
He said: “Studies have shown that male baldness is caused by a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male sex hormone that essentially causes male characteristics.
“It is rich in androgenic properties – and as androgens are responsible for hair growth, normal levels of them are crucial. Women also produce a small number of androgens in their body.
“When too much DHT is present, the growth cycle begins to slow down, meaning the hair follicles start to shrink. The end result of the process is that no new hair follicles grow at all – which has led to all kinds of formulas being created to supposedly reverse the hair loss.”
However, an increase in testosterone can cause “more extreme levels” of DHT.
Dr Chaudry added: “In turn, your hair would recede more rapidly. So, long story short, testosterone itself does not cause hair loss.”
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