Baldness

From Academic Kids

(Redirected from Male pattern baldness)

See also baldness treatments.

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Actor Patrick Stewart's bald head is considered part of his distinctive attractiveness.

Baldness (formally alopecia) is the state of lacking hair where it usually would grow, especially on the head. The most common form of baldness is a progressive hair-thinning condition that occurs in adult humans and other primate species.

Male pattern baldness is thought to occur in varying forms in about 66% of adult males at some point in their lives.[1] (http://www.askmen.com/sports/health/21_mens_health.html) It is characterized by hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead, known as "receding hairline" or "receding brow." An additional bald patch may develop on top (vertex). The trigger for this type of baldness, which is also known as androgenic alopecia, is currently believed to be 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts the hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which, in genetically-prone hairs on the scalp, inhibits hair growth. Onset of hair loss sometimes begins as early as end of puberty, and is mostly genetically determined. Male pattern baldness is classified on the Hamilton-Norwood scale I-VIII.

Female pattern baldness, in which the midline parting of the hair appears broadened, is less common. It is believed to result from a decrease in estrogen, a hormone that normally counteracts the balding effect of testosterone, which normally occurs in women's blood. Female pattern baldness is being classified on the Ludwig scale I-III.

There are several other kinds of baldness. Traction alopecia is most commonly found in women with ponytails or cornrows that pull on their hair with excessive force. Wearing a hat shouldn't generally cause this, though it is a good idea to let your scalp breathe for 7 hours a day.[2] (http://www.askmen.com/sports/health/21_mens_health.html) Traumas such as chemotherapy, childbirth, major surgery, poisoning, and severe stress may cause a hair loss condition known as telogen effluvium. Some mycotic infections can cause massive hair loss. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder also known as "spot baldness" that can result in hair loss ranging from just one location (Alopecia areata monolocularis) to every hair on the entire body (Alopecia areata universalis).

Contents

Evolutionary theories of baldness

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Gorillas evolved anatomically enlarged foreheads to convey increased status and maturity.

There's no consensus regarding the details of the evolution of baldness. Most theories regard it as resulting from sexual selection. A number of other primate species also experience hair loss following puberty, and some primate species clearly use an enlarged forehead, created both anatomically and through strategies such as frontal balding, to convey increased status and maturity.

One theory, advanced by Muscarella & Cunnhinham, suggests baldness evolved in males through sexual selection as an enhanced signal of aging and social maturity, whereby aggression and risk-taking decrease and nurturing behaviours increase.(1) This may have conveyed a male with enhanced social status but reduced physical threat, which could enhance ability to secure reproductive partners and raise offspring to adulthood.

In a study by Muscarella & Cunnhingham, males and females viewed 6 male models with different levels of facial hair (beard and moustache or clean) and cranial hair (full head of hair, receding and bald). Participants rated each combination on 32 adjectives related to social perceptions. Males with facial hair and those with bald or receding hair were rated as being older than those who were clean-shaven or had a full head of hair. Beards and a full head of hair were seen as being more aggressive and less socially mature, and baldness was associated with more social maturity.

Approaches to baldness

Psychological implications

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The psychological implications for individuals experiencing hair loss vary widely. There can be a general societal anxiety surrounding the process of hair loss, but some individuals view it as nature taking its course.

Some balding men may feel proud of their baldness, feeling a kindred relationship with famous charismatic bald film actors such as Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas and Patrick Stewart, who have been considered masculine and handsome in part because of their most obvious distinguishing feature.

Preventing and reversing hair loss

For more information, see the main article on Baldness treatments

It is easier to prevent the aging and falling out of healthy hairs than to regrow hair in follicles that are already dormant. However, there are products that have good success rates with maintenance and regrowth, including the scientifically proven Propecia, Rogaine, and Tricomin. The prospective treatment of hair multiplication/hair cloning, which extracts self-replenishing follicle stem cells, multiples them many times over in the lab, and microinjects them into the scalp, has been shown to work in mice, and is currently under development, expected by some scientists to be available to the public in 2009-2015. Subsequent versions of the treatment are expected by some scientists to be able to cause these follicle stem cells to simply signal the surrounding hair follicles to rejuvenate.*

Interestingly, placebo treatments in studies often have reasonable success rates, though not as high as the products being tested, and even similar side-effects as the products. For example, in Finasteride (propecia) studies, the percent of patients with any drug-related sexual adverse experience was 3.8% compared with 2.0% in the placebo group.[3] (http://www.hairlosstalk.com/download/finfront.pdf) Proponents of alternative therapies believe that the majority of cases of hair loss that progress despite treatments do so because the people believe no such cure can occur. In this view, this belief, which is prevailing in the modern civilised world and continuously reinforced by medical science, is the main obstacle for effectively finding and applying a cure.

For men, frequent ejaculation may have an influence on MPB. Semen is rich in zinc, with each ejaculate containing around 5 mg., one third of the recommended daily nutrient intake.[4] (http://www.tiscali.co.uk/lifestyle/healthfitness/menshealth/part1_4-2.html) Zinc is an inhibitor of 5-Alpha- Reductase (5AR) and may regulate its activity. 5AR is needed by the body in order to create DHT, which is thought to play a central role in MPB. Propecia works by inhibiting 5AR. Most men may not get enough zinc to replenish what's lost in semen if they ejaculate every day. Low levels of zinc may in this way cause more DHT to be produced, which could increase the rate of MPB.

Concealing hair loss

One method of hiding hair loss is the comb-over, which involves restyling the remaining hair to cover the balding area. It is usually a temporary solution, useful only while the area of hair loss is small. As the hair loss increases, a comb-over becomes less effective.

Another method is to wear a hairpiece - a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. The best wigs - those that look like real hair - cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations such as Locks of Love (http://www.locksoflove.org/) and Wigs for Kids (http://www.wigsforkids.org/) collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment.

Embracing baldness

Of course, instead of concealing hair loss, one may embrace it. Many celebrities and athletes shave their heads. The St. Baldrick's Foundation (http://www.stbaldricks.org/) spreads the message of baldness by shaving the heads of adults to raise money for curing childhood cancer, which often causes children to lose their hair. See Head shaving.

Common baldness myths

There are many myths regarding the possible causes of baldness and its relationship with one's virility, intelligence, ethnicity, job, social class, wealth etc. Most of them can be dismissed by the existence of many counterexamples or by a lack of sufficient scientific research.

  • "Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness."

This myth probably was inspired by the fact that the human brain is located inside the skull, very close and just below where hair grows, and so it was thought that the use and abuse as well as mental diseases could have negative effect on hair growth and number.

This is sometimes used as a stereotype in movies, where the more intellectual or rather frustrated characters are most usually portrayed as bald and generally unattractive, as opposed to the main characters which are usually portrayed as attractive, fit, mentally stable and generally with no apparent hair problems.

This same myth normally extends to considering people having intellectual jobs more prone to baldness problems compared to manual laborers, sometimes further extending the myth to male college or university students when compared to workers of the same age. The myth is suspect because counterexamples can be found in any case.

  • "Baldness can be caused by emotional stress, sexual frustration etc."

While emotional stress can have a part in causing baldness, again it is easy to find counterexamples like non-frustrated and non-stressed people with hair loss problems as well as stressed and/or frustrated people with no hair loss problem at all. This myth also suggests that a vicious circle between hair loss and emotional stress/sexual frustration can take place, although only one part of it can be scientifically explained (hair loss causing low esteem and then frustration, but not vice versa).

  • "Bald men are more "virile" or sexually active than others."

This myth probably stems from the fact that some forms of baldness in some predisposed individuals are caused by androgens, and removal of androgens (by castration) prevents baldness or stops it from progressing further. Yet counterexamples can be found, like men with perfect hairlines and similar levels of androgens or men with sensitivity to androgens causing hair loss but which are not very sexually active.

  • "Shaving hair makes it grow back stronger"

Proposed as a popular remedy against baldness, it's very probably just an illusion similar to the one perceived after shaving one's beard or mustache. Shaving one's head doesn't increase the number of healthy hair present on the scalp, and, when the remaining hair has grown a few millimeters, no enhancement in thickness or overall quality can be observed.

  • "Some human races or ethnic groups are less prone to baldness problems then others."

It is true that by observing many pictures of men of European descent and then comparing them to pictures of men of Asian or American Indian descent it is very likely that a random observer will deduce that baldness problems seem to be much more frequent among the "European" group than in the "Asian" one.

Similar observations can be done regarding the people living in most Western countries when compared to people living in "underdeveloped" or Third World countries, but lacking any official anthropological, medical and scientific research to back them up, such observations degenerate into a racial/social stereotype.

A very similar stereotype exists even between the various European ethnic groups, when comparing people of Southern European descent with those of Northern European, Germanic or Slavic origins, with the stereotype summarily describing the "Southern Europeans" as darker-skinned, with more body hair, with the women more prone to cellulite problems and the men more prone to baldness, a stereotype probably developed under times of war or diplomatic tensions between European countries.

Trivia

  • John D. Rockefeller had an extreme case of alopecia that caused him to lose all of the hair on his face, including his eyebrows and eyelashes. Another famous person who suffers from similarly severe alopecia is Italian football referee Pierluigi Collina.
  • Eunuchs do not go bald. [5] (http://www.keratin.com/ac/baldnessbiology/baldnessbiochemistry/515baldnessbiochemistryreference.shtml)
  • Baldness is not only a human trait. Some other primates, such as Chimpanzees, stump-tailed macaques, and South American nakari show progressive thinning of the hair on the scalp after adolescence. [6] (http://www.regrowth.com/hair_loss_information/histopathology_of_hair_loss_3.cfm)

Reference

  • Muscarella, F., & Cunningham, M.R. (1996). The evolutionary significance and social perception of male pattern baldness and facial hair. "Ethology and Sociobiology" journal (volume 17: 99-117 (1996).
  • Rossi S (Ed.) (2004). Australian Medicines Handbook 2004. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook. ISBN 0-9578521-4-2

See also

External links

Consumer information pages

Hair loss specialist directories

Baldness news

  • Health Alternatives: (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8125-1584988,00.html) zinc, silica, methylsulphonylmethane (MSM) and cod-liver oil, to slow down the process.

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