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Going bald? Try these solutions
Dr Parul Kolhe |
August 09, 2005
Name the one hair problem that causes the most amount of anguish among men? You're right. It's baldness. In the past, men would simply accept it and get on with their lives.
But today's generation is more conscious about their looks. They demand explanations and, luckily for them, in some cases there are solutions as well.
This is where we dermatologists can help
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Blame it on testosterone
The basic cause of male pattern hair loss -- or Androgenetic Alopecia as it is technically known -- are the male hormones.
The hair's response to these hormones is genetically determined. The more baldness genes you inherit, the worse your problem. So, if your father and mother's family have the baldness gene, you are much more likely to develop this problem.
When will you hair begin to fall?
Once you reach adolescence and your male hormones activate, they start affecting your hair which is genetically programmed to fall in response to testosterone.
The hair fall may start as early as adolescence but becomes visible a bit later. This depends on factors like your initial hair density, the speed with which you are losing hair and how vigilant you are about your problem.
The loss of 50-70 hair strands a day is normal. Any more, and visible thinning is apparent.
Your hairline first begins to recede from the forehead and the sides. The next stage is thinning on the top of your scalp. The progressive final stages are when this receding hairline meets the baldness on top. Finally, only a thin fringe of hair around the sides and back of the head is left.
Most men realise they are faced with a balding problem when they are 25-35 years old but it is not uncommon to see this problem manifesting itself much earlier these days.
Baldness vs other types of hair loss
Hair loss could be caused by many other reasons -- the most common being stress, prolonged illness or poor nutrition.
Hair falls about eight to 10 weeks after the occurrence of these causes. If you have worked late nights and long hours on a project, been sick with typhoid or had any long illness or surgery, or have been on a strict diet two months ago, that could be the cause of your present hair loss.
This type of hair loss does not follow the pattern of frontal recession like male pattern baldness. It also stops after a few weeks of consuming a high protein nutritious diet, iron and multivitamin supplements and destressing.
Dieticians recommend protein powders like Nutrilite (an Amway product that costs Rs1,550) or Ensure (Rs175, available at all chemists).
Top mantras for dry skin
Help is at hand
Most men, especially those who fall in the younger age group, get extremely upset about male pattern balding. Don't worry, several solutions are available nowadays.
Get in touch with your dermatologist to assess the severity of your hair loss. S/ he will then get you started on a treatment programme (these medications need a prescription).
~ You may be started on a lotion called Minoxidil, available as Mintop (with all chemists, Rs 175 for two percent and Rs 375 for five percent) or Coverit (Rs 135 for two percent and Rs 300 for five percent).
~ Combinations of Minoxidil with other drugs are also available as Trigaine liquid (Rs180). This must be applied very carefully. Exactly one millilitre should be measured out and spread over the scalp twice a day.
~ Do not apply any hair oil as the medication will not get absorbed.
The medicine takes about six weeks to show its effect and will have to be used in the long term.
~ Oral medications like Finasteride may also be used to treat severe cases, but this MUST be taken under medical supervision.
~ Hair transplants are fairly common these days. They cost approximately between Rs 1 and Rs 1.5 lakhs and involve transplanting single hair strands from the back and side of the scalp to the front and top.
However, keep your expectations realistic -- you can't look as good as you did 10 years ago.
~ If that option is too expensive, hair weaves can be made on order (about Rs 7,000-Rs 15,000 depending on the size
of your bald patch).
These are synthetic hair strands, carefully chosen to match your hair type, woven into a skin coloured mesh that approximates the shape and size of your bald patch and can be clipped or glued on your scalp.
They look quite natural and are indistinguishable from the real thing.
So, whatever your budget, there are ways to tackle this problem. Do not lose heart, because you CAN control that receding hairline.
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Dr Parul S Kolhe is an M B B S, DDV and DNB in dermatology.