The only things that actually cure baldness, according to science
At some point, most of us are going to experience hair loss.
In the United States, roughly half of all men (and women, too) will start showing signs of baldness by their 40th birthday, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Even though modern folklore, and even some limited scientific studies, have suggested that the mother's side of the family is largely responsible for a genetic predisposition toward baldness, the truth is balding is not all our mothers' fault. In fact, doctors now say baldness patterns are inherited from a combination of many genes on both sides of the family. There are some environmental factors that come into play, too.
Scientists are starting to inch closer to finding a cure for the missing hair problem. But in the meantime, here are a few proven ways to prevent baldness, and help grow back lost hair.
Hair loss, also called alopecia, is most often hereditary — passed down from generation to generation.
The most common kind of hair loss is male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). Doctors estimate this condition may affect up to 80% of white men by their 70th birthday.
It affects more than half of all women, too, and is caused by the sex steroid hormone dihydrotestosterone.
Often in men, it’ll start at the temples or in the back of the head, at the top.
In women, it can show up first near the front of the head, or in a widening of the scalp line, where hair becomes thinner.
Other types of hair loss can be a result of scarring damage from hot combs, weaves, chemical relaxers, and hair dryers, so it's important to be gentle with your hair.
Hair loss won't usually feel like much when it’s happening. But sometimes it can be a warning sign of a larger health issue, especially if there’s scarring on the scalp. Women with hair loss who notice other changes in their bodies, like a drop in their voice or more acne, might want to get checked out by a doctor.
It’s actually a normal thing for hair to fall out. Hair starts its life with a long growing phase, and usually about 80% of our hair is in this phase at any given time. But other hairs are getting ready to leave our heads.
We normally shed about 50 to 100 hairs a day this way.
But after a fresh shampoo, that number can jump to around 250. That's okay, because we typically have have about 100,000 hairs on our heads at any given time.
Normally, at the end, a new hair starts growing from the empty follicle but with alopecia, that doesn’t happen.
The hair loss can be focal, and concentrated in one spot, or diffuse, and all over the head.
Sometimes there’s scarring, because the hair follicle is being destroyed, and this may be a sign there’s a disorder present that should be investigated.
There are only a few proven ways that we know can treat baldness, but scientists are still searching for new cures.
One of the first successful treatments was invented by this man. It's called Minoxidil.
But you may know it better by its brand name: Rogaine.
Rogaine makes the hair-growing phase last longer, and enlarges and matures thin hairs. But it doesn't work for everyone.
Rogaine is a commitment: if you stop using it, any hair you’ve regrown could fall out, and you’ll go back to losing hair like you were before you started taking it.
The other proven option for men is the oral tablet finasteride, known by its brand name Propecia. The drug can stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth, but it has some side effects.
Other supplements, pills, or miracle cure-promises won’t do anything for you.
Scalp scientist (trichologist) Shirley McDonald recently told Business Insider that other cosmetic fixes like hair transplants are getting much better, and instead of looking like “doll’s hair," as they used to, they're getting quite convincing.
Until then, one other great way to treat baldness is to embrace it, and choose the shaved head look. Research suggests this strategy could score you some serious street cred: people tend to assess smooth-headed baldies as both stronger and taller than their hair-brained counterparts.
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