Understanding Premature Balding

by Sharon Hopkins


Hair loss and balding is generally associated with older men (sometimes women), rather than teenagers and young adults. But this condition can unfortunately affect even people under the age of 21. When this happens it is referred to as premature balding. In the United States, 25% of men in the 20's age bracket are estimated to be suffering from premature balding.

Understanding the hair growth cycle will help throw light on why hair loss occurs in the first place. The growth cycle consist of three phases - growth phase, degradation phase and resting phase. A 2-8 year growth period is followed by a 2-4 week period, in which the hair follicle degrades. This is followed by a 2-4 month resting phase, after which old hair starts shedding and new hair follicles emerge. But, in the case of balding and premature balding, degraded hair follicles are not replaced with new ones.

The most common factor of baldness in men is hereditary. So men who notice signs early in their life have reason to worry. Men who are genetically predisposed to balding may notice a pattern hair loss. Early signs and patterns of premature balding in men may involve thinning of hair in the hairline or on both sides of the widow's peak (V shape on the hairline) leading to a receding hairline. Shedding 50-100 hairs a day is considered normal, but excess shedding may be noticed while combing/brushing and shampooing the hair.

Pattern of premature balding in women differs from men. In females, unlike men, the hair thins on the crown of the head, on either sides of the hair parting, with the front hair line remaining almost intact. Men may eventually go totally bald, but this is rarely the case in women. The exact cause of premature balding in women is not fully understood, but it may also be due to family history of balding or excess levels of androgen hormone.

Other than hair loss (leading to emotional stress), there are no other side-effects of premature balding and treatment depends on the dermatologist. Treatment may range from topical application of minoxidil, to oral medications like spironolactone, to hair and forelock transplants, hair weaving, hairpieces, corticosteroids injection and also hundreds of home remedies, for example, massages and diets rich in biotin.

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