By Henrylito D. Tacio
“I am losing my hairs,” wrote a close friend recently. “What can I do about this? I really don’t know what to do.”
He seemed to be worried – and it is understandable. He is in his early ‘30s and still single. Some bachelors who have few hairs may find it difficult to engage in a romantic relationship. Throughout history, abundant hair has symbolized vitality, health, and virility, whereas loss or removal of hair can connote subjugation, loss of individuality, impotency, and/or decrepitude.
Losing hair is called baldness and some people joke that bald people are suffering from HIV (hair is vanishing). Actually, baldness involves the state of lacking hair where it often grows, especially on the head. The most common form of baldness is a progressive hair thinning condition called medical experts called as androgenic alopecia or “male pattern baldness” that occurs in adult males.
Medical science says that the average human head has about 100,000 hair follicles. Each follicle will grow an average of about 20 individual hairs in a person’s lifetime. Average hair loss is about 100 strands a day. If you are losing more than the average, then you are starting to undergoing baldness.
The cause of baldness has remained a mystery for many years. The people in ancient Rome believed that the lack of acidity in the human body results in baldness. Others also believed that problems in blood circulation cause baldness.
Recent findings in science, however, have attributed baldness to genetics. Hair loss may be experienced three to four months after an illness or surgery and is usually temporary. An overactive or underactive thyroid gland as well as androgen or estrogen imbalance can cause hair loss.
Poor nutrition and crash dieting also cause hair fall because adequate protein, vitamins and minerals are essential for proper hair growth and healthy hair. Among women, improper hair care and styling such as wearing your hair in pigtails, in cornrows or using tight hair rollers can cause traction which can eventually lead to scarring and later to permanent hair loss.
Can mental stress lead to thinning of hair? In his regular health column, Dr. Philip S. Chua answers: “Psychological stress has been reported to have caused hair loss but only at times of extreme emotional trauma. The medical community doubts the role of emotional stress as a significant factor in the causation of baldness.”
There are several myths about what causes baldness. Some people claim that thinning of hair is caused by wearing hats. Dr. Chua clarifies, “Wearing hats does not cause hair loss or baldness.” Shampooing either does not accelerate balding. Likewise, “poor circulation” does not cause hair loss.
Myths about treating baldness have also evolved. Dr. Chua shares this information: “Standing on your head to increase blood flow to the head will not cure hair loss or baldness. Scalp massage or brushing won’t save you from hair loss. Rubbing egg yolk or milk, dead flies, or ancient Egyptian fat mixtures from mountain goats, lions, goose, serpents, crocodile or hippopotamus on bald areas of the head will not promote hair growth, in spite of the popular folklore. Toweling off your hair gingerly rather than vigorously will not do the trick either. And the biggest myth is cleaning your scalp of sebum to unclog blocked follicles to prevent hair loss or baldness. This is simply not true.”
There are several treatments for hair loss and most of these are drugs with known side effects. Once you stop these medications, hair loss resumes. Surgeries such as scalp reductions and hair transplants are expensive options and not all can afford it.
Why should baldness be a special concern, especially among men? In a study on more than 22, 000 men ages 40 to 84, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the findings suggest that “men with male pattern baldness may be at increased risk for heart disease.”
Yes, you read it right! The study claimed, “Compared to men with no hair loss, those with severe vertex baldness (balding at the crown of the head) had a 36% increased risk of heart disease; men with moderate crown balding had a 32% increased risk, while mild balding on the crown carried a 23% increased risk…. Men with frontal baldness had a 9% increased risk.”
Another health risk related to baldness is the increased risk for cancer of the prostate, according to the US National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health Division of Cancer Epidemiology. Their study on 4,421 men with male pattern baldness (ages 25 to 75) without history of cancer of prostate, revealed that the risk for prostatic cancer was significantly elevated among these men, compared to their peers with abundant hair.
But bald can be attractive! Film actors such as Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas, Ben Kingsley and Patrick Stewart have shown us that even without hairs, you can still look handsome and macho! In the Philippines, actor Bembol Roco comes to mind.
One of the best known bald celebrities is Michael Jordan, a retired American professional basketball player. Who can imagine Jordan with hair? Actor Vin Diesel is distinguished by his shaved head, athletic physique, deeply textured baritone voice and say-it-like-it-is attitude. Who can argue that the 52-year-old Bruce Willis looks great with that shaved head?
Among women, Natalie Portman leads. She had to shave her beautiful hair for a role in V for Vendetta. Demi Moore also shaved her head for G.I. Jane. After removing all hair Demi said: “It feels great! I love it!”
Bald really is beautiful! If you choose to go bald, or genetics has made that choice for you, you are in great company. If you haven’t committed to living a life without hair, or you know you are loosing it, but haven’t lost it all yet, remember, there are some great looking, talented men that are follicly challenged. — ###