Hereditary Hair Loss Demystified

Worried that your hair is thinning? You’re not alone. Hair growth creams and other products are a 4 billion dollar a year industry in the United States. A full head of thick hair is popularly associated with youth, health, wealth, and even sexual potency. Many men spot hairs in the drain or an unflattering photograph and worry that they are on the same path as their male relatives who experienced balding.

Hereditary hair loss affects many men. By the time he is in his 50s, the typical American male has a 50% chance of some hair loss. That number rises to an 80% chance when he reaches his 70s. However, male pattern baldness can begin at virtually any age, even during the teenage years.

How does your body maintain its hair?

The average person has about 100,000 hair follicles and loses up to 100 of them a day. These hairs are usually shed when they reach the end of a growth cycle. The hair follicles then grow a new hair shaft to replace what was lost.

What happens during hereditary hair loss?

For some people, the process of hair regrowth breaks down. Their hair follicles are more susceptible to hormones such as androgen. Over time, the androgen flooding the hair growth cells damages them. They produce thinner and weaker hairs and eventually stop functioning. Hair that is naturally shed is no longer replaced.

Click here to learn more about genetics and hair loss.

What causes hereditary hair loss?

Scientists suspect that hereditary hair loss is caused by a number of genes. These genes are inherited from both sides of the family. Researchers have isolated an important gene contributing to hair loss on the mother’s side of the genetic pool, but the father’s family tree also has an influence.

What doesn’t cause hereditary hair loss?

The chance of developing hereditary hair loss rises as you age, and a man in his 80s will typically have finer hair than one in his 30s. However, hair loss is triggered by genetic factors, not simply getting older.

Hats and helmets are commonly blamed for hair loss. Now, too-tight or ill-fitting headgear may damage the hair and cause it to break off, but your follicles should be able to regrow it. The only exception is a scalp infection, often caused by dirty hats. That might damage the hairmaking cells enough to shut down their growth cycles. The easy solution is to keep all headgear clean.

Serious illness, injuries, major changes in weight, or personal tragedies can put the body under a lot of stress. Your system may respond by shedding more than 100 strands a day. However, a healthy scalp will begin regrowing what has been lost.

Hair styling
Generally speaking, this is a myth. Using a certain kind of shampoo, hair gel, combing the hair frequently, and other hair care activities shouldn’t cause damage. However, aggressive hair straightening techniques and overuse of curling irons may eventually lead to permanent hair loss.

Testosterone levels
This is a bit more complicated because the androgens that damage faulty hair-producing cells in the scalp include testosterone. However, there are many men with high testosterone levels with a full head of hair, and just as many with low levels who are experiencing hereditary hair loss. Genetics underlie the problem, not hormone levels.

Are You Experiencing Hair Loss?

If you’re experiencing hair loss, it’s important to talk to an expert to find the right treatment for your condition. Contact Dr. Frank toll-free at (877) 751-4246 to for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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