June 2, 2011
WHY AM I LOSING MY HAIR?
It might be your imagination, or it may be a startling fact, either way the thought of losing your hair can feel like a big sabotage brought upon you by Mother Nature. Trust me, you’re not being cursed for past discretions, so before you lose it, learn about the general causes of hair loss, and some effective treatments that you can start to restore your hair, and prevent any further hair loss.
Begin with this simple test to see if you’re experiencing rapid hair loss:
Comb your hair for 60 seconds over a white towel then count the hairs deposited there. If your count was more than 10 hairs, you’re losing hair faster than the average man.
– The average person’s head has up to 150,000 hair follicles (adult body has 5 million).
– Each strand of hair has it’s own blood supply, so hair is greatly influenced by health and diet. Hair is also under a delicate control of hormones.
HOW DOES HAIR GROW?
By learning how you lose your hair, first understand how it grows: It goes through it’s own cycle that’s unrelated to hormones. The two phases making up the cycle are:
• Phase 1: Anagen: This is where your cells in the root of the hair are pushing the hair out. This process takes an average of 2-3 years
• Phase 3: Catagen: For a duration of 10 days, the base of the follicle moves upward toward the surface of the skin, but the follicle itself stops producing hair.
• Phase 2: Telogen: In this phase your hair is in hibernation mode for about 100 days. The follicle is completely at rest.
Some hair follicles are programmed to have shorter growth periods than others. A factor for age-related male-pattern baldness is a person’s level of androgens. Androgens are hormones that men (and women) produce. Hair is lost especially fast if it’s exposed to DHT (dihydrotestosterone- which comes from metabolism of testosterone). Exposure of follicles to certain levels of testosterone in adult men cause the hair follicle to go into resting state or as we covered Telogen. DHT is formed in the hair follicles, testes, prostate and adrenal glands through an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme raises the levels of DHT, and essentially shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.
Rapid hair loss should be your bat signal to have your doctor evaluate your nutrition, health, and hormone levels. Typically this just means having to take a few viles of blood drawn. Understand that losing your hair isn’t just about stirring vanity issues; it’s a big indicator of something going on in your body.
Other factors of hair loss is being over-exposed to the sun, thereby creating inflammation in the scalp. Also, a decline in TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) could be a big underlying cause of hair loss.
Good News/Bad News: The bad news is that there isn’t a treatment available yet to naturally restore all the lost hair on your head. The good news is that there are a few treatments available to slow down the hair loss occurrence, and procedures that can restore your hair to an almost full head of hair. However these procedures come with a large price tag.
5 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PROTECT YOUR HAIR
1. Practice good hair hygiene: blot out the water in your hair after a shower (don’t rub too hard). Your hair is most vulnerable when it’s wet.
2. Shampoo and Condition CORRECTLY: Yes, there is an actual process to correctly shampooing your hair, and most guys have probably never touched conditioner. Use shampoos (and conditioners) with the most natural ingredients possible. Avoid ingredients like parabans, and alcohol that can strip your hair of its natural oils, and cause an oil imbalance in your hair. (You’ll get that greasy hair look even after you just washed your hair). Conditioning is great for sealing the natural oils in your hair and scalp. Washing your hair daily or every other day reduces dandruff.
3. Check your diet: There’s a connection between balding and eating animal fat found in red meat. For the meat and potato guys, diets high in animal fat leads to more DHT production and more damage to the hair follicles. Studies have shown that drinking a cup of green tea daily can slow baldness by slowing down DHT production. Replace animal fat with foods like nuts, eggs, avocados, and salmon. These fats contribute to making your hair look shinier, and healthier.
4. Check your Hormone Levels: If you’re losing hair by the clumps, chances are it’s a sign of a hormone imbalance. Ask your doctor to get a blood test to measure your thyroid and hormone levels. From there, your doctor will be able to give you some good advice on steps you can take on correcting any imbalances or dysfunctions.
5. Take Vitamin Supplements: Specifically B-6, Biotin and Folate. Via research these key vitamins were effective in slowing down loss. Pantothenic Acid and Niacin equivocally promote hair growth. Saw Palmetto Berry extract and the oil in avocados may also slow down hair loss and promote hair growth by preventing that pesky DHT from binding to the receptor sites at the hair follicles. L-Lysine at (500 to 1,000 mg can help hair grow thicker. Be fairly warned that it takes about 3 months before your body starts accepting these supplements into the body, but be encouraged to take them anyway, these vitamins are good for your over-all health as well.
Men with the pre-disposed genetics that cause male-pattern baldness can benefit from 2 FDA approved medications such as Rogaine, and Propecia.
Rogaine (medically termed Minoxidil) is a topical solution that increases the anagen growth and enlarges the hair follicle, so that hair can be given a condition to grow again.
Propecia (medically termed Finasteride) is an oral tablet taken once a day and inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT by blocking that 5-alpha enzyme previously mentioned. The key to its effectiveness is to use it immediately after noticing sudden hair loss. It’s an oral tablet taken once a day
These two treatments have been found to slow down hair loss, with just a few cases of actual hair growth reported.
While these two medications can work wonders and restore your faith in Mother Nature or father science, it’s to be noted that they both have some rather frightening side effects albeit rare. Finasteride can decrease sexual desire, and make achieving erections difficult, while Rogaine can make your hair grow in some oddball places: fingers, and back of hands.
Fire away with any questions or comments if you’ve tried and tested some hair loss prevention methods.
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