Hair loss is experienced by many men and women at some point in life. For many, hair loss is a source of embarrassment, frustration, or anxiety. Central to this issue is a lack of education regarding hair loss causes and treatments.
Types of Hair Loss
Hair loss, known as alopecia in the medical community, can be due to a number of causes. Male-pattern baldness, which is probably the best well-known type of hair loss is caused by a sensitivity of hair follicles to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This sensitivity is usually hereditary, though stress and certain medications may also trigger this type of hair loss.
During and after menopause, women may experience hair loss or thinning similar to male pattern baldness. This is most often due to the decrease in predominance of female hormones in their bodies. Such hair loss in females often results in extreme loss of confidence and self-esteem.
Another category of hair loss, alopecia areata, is unknown in origin and effects men and women of all ages. This may be an autoimmune reaction, such as rheumatism or lupus, but the evidence on this is still inconclusive. This type of hair loss can result in one or more bald patches, a completely bald scalp, even hair loss over the entire body. Some cases of alopecia areata have reversed spontaneously, some respond to early medical intervention, and others are permanent.
Living with Hair Loss
Living with hair loss is rarely easy in our society, which focuses on the physical appearance of youth. Men who experience hair loss may interpret it as a sign of the onset of old age, and they may fear that others will view them as feeble and incompetent as a result. For women and for men whose hair loss begins very early in their adult life, hair loss can be even more devastating to their self-confidence.
Partial or full hairpieces are the classic solution to this problem, but the medical profession has developed a number of alternative treatments in the past few decades which may be more practical for many hair loss patients. Most of these options are either surgical procedures designed to replace lost hair or pharmaceutical products meant to halt or reverse the shrinking effect of DHT on hair follicles.
Men, particularly older men, and a few very strong women, however, choose to view their hair loss as a natural and appropriate part of their identities. Some quietly endure it, while others choose to embrace their hair loss, accentuating it by growing remaining hair longer or shaving their heads entirely.