Male and female pattern baldness - no great loss, but loss all the same!

By: Mick Burrows

!P>In a person with a healthy, full head of hair, it is deemed normal to lose up to 50 hairs a day. People who are suffering from the onset of something called pattern baldness however, can lose up to 250 hairs a day and it affects males and females. Male pattern baldness is triggered by increased sensitivity to male hormones (androgens). It is usually a hereditary condition and is a gradual process. Genetic traits make hair follicles shrink, resulting in the actual density, or thickness of hair grown diminishing, so although the follicles are still alive, they are no longer able to perform their task. With female pattern baldness, unlike the male equivalent, it is not so readily accepted socially and in many cases it can have devastating effect on the sufferers emotional state and confidence. It is often linked to hormonal changes, following events such as the menopause, or as a result of stopping, or starting oral contraceptive pills. Childbirth is also a known factor. Hormone levels increase as the pregnancy begins and slows down the hair growth cycle. Hairs that should stop growing continue to grow beyond their usual life cycle. Often this means that the hair appears to grow thicker as more hairs are present than normal. Other causes can be numerous and include stress, restriction of the blood supply, a poor nervous system and hormonal influences. With female pattern baldness, the hair loss is generally more uniform over the scalp than in the male counterpart, but also results from a complex chemical reaction when the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts the testosterone in the system into DHT or dihydrotestosterone. Female pattern baldness affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, whereas the male strain appears to be slightly more common, affecting around 40 per cent. Medical science does not at present know exactly why some men with high testosterone levels (marked by heavy beards, an excess of body hair and deepness of voice) do not succumb to male pattern baldness, while others, often with lower testosterone levels, do. Nor is it understood why it only affects the hair follicles on top of the head and not those on the back and sides. Scientific updates however, are constantly being issued and there is optimism that a positive conclusion will eventually be drawn

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