Hair loss in men with age is a natural phenomenon; while for some, this loss is conspicuous for the other lucky ones, it happens without a show. When the damage is extreme or occurs at an early stage, it becomes a cause of concern and much distress.
The interesting fact about male pattern balding is that hair loss happens in a characteristic and extremely reproducible manner. To be precise, three key areas of the scalp will lose hair preferentially. Also, the loss in these areas creates a varied pattern of the sequence of hair loss.
Here are the patterns:
- Hair loss that starts in the temple from the anterior hairline and proceeds towards the back. This is common in boys as they grow from adolescence to adulthood. Less than five per cent of adult men keep hold of the anterior hairline.
- Hair loss that starts at the crown, right from the area near the whorl, i.e. the back of the head. This type of loss then proceeds outward in every direction and creates a circular pattern of baldness.
- General diffuse thinning starts at the top of the head and is generally observed as broadening of the central part-line. Asian adult males are known to be prone to this pattern of balding.
Other than these widespread patterns of hair loss in men, there also exists another imperceptible type of hair loss that leads to hair thinning and eventually, balding.
To understand hair loss, it is important to know the difference between the hair on the scalp and the hair that grows on other parts of the body.
Here are the key differences –
- Hair on the scalp grows in follicular units
- The units generate tufts of two to five hairs which are produced from each pore.
- Every unit comes with primary hair, i.e. the hair that is there when a child is born or the hair that grows immediately after birth.
- Secondary hairs are grown when the boy is of two to three years of age. This is why the light and feathery hair seen in baby boys becomes thick and abundant by the time they reach school-going age.
With the onset of androgenetic alopecia, the secondary hairs shrink, and the follicular units on the affected area of the scalp can only generate one terminal hair instead of tufts. Once the primary hair - the final residual fibre form the tuft - fades away, balding becomes visible.
Another fascinating fact is that balding can go unnoticed even with a 50 per cent reduction in hair volume. This is especially true for men who wear their hair short and are less careful about the loss. Men often notice hair loss once the balding spot becomes visible.
Factors affecting and controlling hair loss is often hereditary. It is widely noticed that twin brothers start losing hair at the same age and at the same spot. The rate of loss is also found to be identical, and the pattern of the loss is often strangely similar. This is because genetic and epigenetic factors are instrumental in the process. The definite workings of the factors that lead to hair loss are yet to be known; although that has not deterred skin and hair specialists from analysing the manner of patterned hair loss, often to the advantage of the afflicted ones.
That said, men can also lose hair due to the following factors-
- Chronic illness
- Relationship or financial issues
- Poor nutrition
- Recurrent jet lag
The good thing about the scalp is that it also has regions that do not lose hair, i.e. the occipital scalp or the back portion of the head. Over the years, both men and women have successfully hidden baldness by using hairs from the back of their heads to replenish the balding areas at the front part of their heads. New-age medical solutions coupled with surgery options have ensured that balding, is now a choice.
Lastly, misters, every time you feel distressed about your bald head, remind yourself of Larry David’s golden words –
Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair, but a confident bald man… there’s your diamond in the rough.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP