Preventing Baldness

Preventing Baldness:  Don’t Lose Your Cool Over Losing Your Hair

Because losing your hair can feel a lot like losing your identity, many men and women today are increasingly searching for help with preventing baldness.  While most common in men, alopecia or baldness occurs during adulthood and leaves thinning to non-existent patches of head hair.  In some cases, hair loss may even take place in other areas of the body.

What causes baldness?

Although some hair loss is natural and accompanies aging, distinct and prolific amounts of noticeable thinning is often brought about by genetics or hormones.  There are various other causes for baldness such as malnutrition, follicle scarring, excessive hair pulling, and medications used to treat certain types of diseases.  In some cases, patients who have been diagnosed with lupus, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or who have undergone severe physical or psychological trauma will be more likely to lose hair or experience baldness.

In some instances, most commonly when hair loss is due to medications or malnutrition, re-growth is not unusual.  In situations where scarring of the follicles, genetics, or hormonal imbalances are the culprit, regeneration is less likely without medical treatment or intervention.

Is preventing baldness possible?

Although scientists are working diligently to better understand the causes of balding and are making every effort in preventing baldness, a permanent and satisfactory cure has yet to be discovered.  Medications such as minoxidil and finasteride have been approved for safety by the United States Food and Drug Administration to aid in hair re-growth and lessen loss, but neither can completely reverse or stop thinning.

In situations where autoimmune disease is to blame for patchy baldness, such as in alopecia areata, immunosuppressants like corticosteroids or anthralin may be either injected or applied to the scalp in cream form to stimulate hair regeneration.

Other viable means of regenerating hair growth and preventing baldness are continually being researched and scientists are now working on using stem cell research to aid in the cause.  Increased testing is needed, as well as more time, but the end result will likely produce a natural defense against hair loss.  It has also been suggested that by lowering stress levels in one’s life, reducing smoking, and using vitamin supplements like vitamins B, C, and E can all help to reduce the risk of becoming bald and help to begin natural hair re-growth.

How can baldness be treated?

Other than using approved medications and improving overall lifestyle choices, there are some alternative treatments that work to replace lost hair.  Surgical procedures such as transplanting and scalp reduction are the most common.  With transplantation, hair plugs taken from normally productive areas of the scalp such as the back or sides is surgically removed and placed in areas of the head where hair production has ceased.  In scalp reduction, areas of non-producing scalp are removed and skin containing working hair follicles is stretched to cover the affected area.

For some who are balding, medical and surgical intervention may be out of budget or simply unwanted.  For people who cannot afford or don’t like the idea of such drastic measures, use of wigs, toupees, or combing over of the hair can be effective ways for diminishing the appearance of baldness and promoting better self esteem.  For others, completely eliminating all head hair through shaving also works to lessen the stigma attached to balding.

Final Thoughts

Although hair is an obvious piece of who we are, lack thereof does not constitute a lesser human value.  There are many great and influential men and women throughout history who have been notably bald or balding.  As with many things in life, balding can be an unavoidable situation and one that must be coped with.  If you or someone you know is struggling to accept or manage their alopecia, please be sure to talk with your physician or therapist to find appropriate remedies and discuss all your options.