What Exactly Is Balding?
Typically, after you shampoo or oil your hair, you lose some hair. But if you experience hair fall at a faster rate than usual, that’s an indication of balding. Balding is a commonly used term for androgenetic alopecia or male or female pattern hair loss. Genetics and the natural ageing process can usually be the leading causes of baldness.
Typically, the three phases of the hair growth cycle are:
- Anagen Phase: Roughly 90 percent of the scalp hair is in this phase, which lasts around 2 to 4 years. In the anagen or growing phase, hair roots split up rapidly and add to the hair shaft.
- Catagen Phase: During 2 to 3 weeks, the hair follicles shrink in this phase. It’s called catagen or transition phase. The hair is cut off from the blood supply and cells that produce new hair.
- Telogen Phase: 3 to 4 months later, the hair sheds in this phase and is called telogen or resting phase. Until the growth of new anagen hair, the resting hair remains in the follicle.
Some common symptoms of balding are top hair thinning, receded hairline for men and broad hair parting in women.
What Causes Balding?
One of the primary reasons for balding is androgenetic alopecia, or pattern baldness. According to studies, androgenetic alopecia is the reason for baldness in over 95 percent of permanent hair loss cases. It is not necessarily a disease but a condition associated with genetics, regular ageing, and androgen, a hormone found in males.
Genetics influence the key enzymes like 5-alpha reductase that transforms the testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), both androgens. That’s why genetics is one of the significant factors of androgenetic alopecia. It is one of the main reasons for baldness in males.
The hair follicle shrinks with an increase in DHT or when it becomes more susceptible to the DHT. Due to this increase, the growing or anagen phase diminishes, causing the hair to fall faster, resulting in hair loss.
Pattern hair loss in men or women happens over time. In men, the hairline starts receding and thinning starts appearing on top of their head. For women, their hair partings become broader.
You can prevent several other reasons for baldness by
- Loosening the hairstyle: Braiding hair or tying ponytails can tighten the hair too much. It can damage the hair.
- Do not use hair straighteners/curlers or blow dryers too often. Too much heat can be one of the causes of baldness.
- Scalp massage: Massaging with oils can be perfect for your hair. But overdoing can also put stress on the hair and damage the follicles.
- A healthy diet rich in nutrients is good for the growth of hair.
- Certain studies show that smoking can be a reason for baldness in males and females as well. So quitting can help the body in various ways, including hair loss prevention.
- If your ongoing medications are causing hair loss, you must contact your doctor for alternatives.
Following the above can prevent hair fall. Let’s answer the most common myth; baldness is not caused by shampooing, dandruff or wearing hats!
Other Possible Causes of Hair Loss or Bald Spots
In most cases, baldness is caused by androgenetic alopecia. But other conditions can also induce hair loss, like,
- Traction alopecia: Tight ponytails, braids, hair extensions, etc., cause Traction alopecia, which is due to too much stress on the hair follicles.
- Alopecia areata: In alopecia areata, the body attacks its hair follicles, damaging the hair roots, resulting in hair loss.
- Anagen effluvium: Often related to chemotherapy in cancer patients, a toxic substance weakens the hair follicle in this condition during the anagen phase. Radiation therapy can also cause this condition.
- Telogen effluvium: Usually, after a surgery, physical trauma or illness, hair loss is induced in this condition due to shock or stress. Often, the hair grows back in about 2 to 6 months.
- Tinea capitis: In tinea capitis (scalp ringworm), the scalp and hair shaft are infected by fungi, resulting in a scaly patch.
As mentioned earlier, there can be various reasons for baldness. But you should always consult a dermatologist before self speculating.
The Bottom Line
Often in men or women, the primary cause of baldness is androgenetic alopecia. It is also called pattern hair loss, which causes hair thinning, receding hairline in men and widening of parting in women. If you think that you might have started balding, consult a dermatologist or visit ALCS India. You can also look for our online consultation. The doctor will start treatment for it depending on the cause.