What Is Baldness Or Hair Loss

Baldness in defined as 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 androgenic alopecia or "male pattern baldness" that occurs in adult male humans and other species. The amount and patterns of baldness can vary greatly; it ranges from male and female pattern alopecia (androgenic alopecia, also called androgenetic alopecia or alopecia androgenetica), alopecia areata, which involves the loss of some of the hair from the head, and alopecia totalis, which involves the loss of all head hair, to the most extreme form, alopecia universalis, which involves the loss of all hair from the head and the body.

Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern is characterized by hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead, known as "receding hairline". Receding hairlines are usually seen in males above the ages of 20 but can be seen as early as late teens as well.
Alopecia is that premature baldness so constantly seen, in which the condition steadily advances from the forehead backwards, until only a fringe of hair is left on the head.
Incidence of pattern baldness varies from population to population based on genetic background, environmental factors do not seem to affect this type of baldness greatly. One large scale study in Maryborough, Victoria, Australia showed the prevalence of mid-frontal hair loss increases with age and affects 57% of women and 73.5% of men aged 80 and over. According to Medem Medical Library's website, male pattern baldness affects roughly 40 million men in the United States. Approximately 25 percent of men begin balding by age 30; two-thirds begin balding by age 60. There is a 4 in 7 chance of getting the baldness gene.

Causes Of Male Pattern Baldness

The trigger for this type of baldness (called androgenetic alopecia) is DHT, a powerful sex hormone, body, and facial hair growth promoter that can adversely affect the hair located on the head.
In genetically-prone scalps, DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturization. Through the process of follicular miniaturization, hair shaft width is progressively decreased until scalp hair resembles fragile vellus hair or "peach fuzz" or else becomes non-existent. 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-VII.
It was previously believed that baldness was inherited from the maternal grandfather. While there is some basis for this belief, both parents contribute to their offspring's likelihood of hair loss.
Research suggests that the gene for the androgen receptor, which is significant in determining probability for hair loss, is located on the X chromosome and so is always inherited from the mother's side. There is a 50% chance that a person shares the same X chromosome as their maternal grandfather. Because women have two X chromosomes, they will have two copies of the androgen receptor gene while men only have one. However, research has also shown that a person with a balding father also has a significantly greater chance of experiencing hair loss.
Most likely, inheritance is technically "autosomal dominant with mixed penetrance" Much research went into the genetic component of male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Research indicates that susceptibility to premature male pattern baldness is largely X-linked. Other genes that aren't sex linked are also involved.
Large studies in 2005 and 2007 stress the importance of the maternal line in the inheritance of male pattern baldness. German researchers name the androgen receptor gene as the cardinal prerequisite for balding. They conclude that a certain variant of the androgen receptor is needed for AGA to develop. In the same year the results of this study were confirmed by other researchers. This gene is recessive and a female would need two X chromosomes with the defect to show typical male pattern alopecia. Seeing that androgens and their interaction with the androgen receptor are the cause of AGA it seems logical that the androgen receptor gene plays an important part in its development.
Other research in 2007 suggests another gene on the X chromosome, that lies close to the androgen receptor gene, is an important gene in male pattern baldness. They found the region Xq11-q12 on the X-chromosome to be strongly associated with AGA in males. They point at the EDA2R gene as the gene that is mostly associated with AGA. This finding has been replicated in at least three follow independent studies.

Other Kinds Of Baldness

There are several other kinds of baldness:
* Traction alopecia is most commonly found in people with ponytails or cornrows who pull on their hair with excessive force.
* Trichotillomania is the loss of hair caused by compulsive pulling and bending of the hairs. It tends to occur more in children than in adults. In this condition the hairs are not absent from the scalp but are broken. Where they break near the scalp they cause typical, short, "exclamation mark" hairs.
* Traumas such as chemotherapy, childbirth, major surgery, poisoning, and severe stress may cause a hair loss condition known as telogen effluvium.
* Worrisome hair loss often follows childbirth without causing actual baldness. In this situation, the hair is actually thicker during pregnancy due to increased circulating oestrogens. After the baby is born, the oestrogen levels fall back to normal pre-pregnancy levels and the additional hair foliage drops out. A similar situation occurs in women taking the fertility-stimulating drug clomiphene.
* Iron deficiency is a common cause of thinning of the hair, though frank baldness is not usually seen.
* Radiation to the scalp, as happens when radiotherapy is applied to the head for the treatment of certain cancers there, can cause baldness of the irradiated areas.
* 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).
* Localized or diffuse hair loss may also occur in cicatricial alopecia (lupus erythematosus, lichen plano pilaris, folliculitis decalvans, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, postmenopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, etc.). Tumours and skin outgrowths also induce localized baldness (sebaceous nevus, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
* Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss, typically frontal, and is particularly associated with thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows (syphilis also can cause loss of the outer third of the eyebrows)
* Hyperthyroidism can also cause hair loss, which is parietal rather than frontal.
* Temporary loss of hair can occur in areas where sebaceous cysts are present for considerable duration; normally one to several weeks in length.

Treatments For Hair Loss (Male Pattern Baldness)

Treatments for the various forms of alopecia have limited success. Some hair loss sufferers make use of clinically proven treatments such as finasteride, dutasteride and topically applied minoxidil solution, in an attempt to prevent further loss and regrow hair. As a general rule, it is easier to maintain remaining hair than it is to regrow; however, the treatments mentioned may prevent hair loss from Androgenetic alopecia, and there are new technologies in cosmetic transplant surgery and hair replacement systems that can be completely undetectable.
In the USA, there are only two drug-based treatments that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and one product that has been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, otherwise known as male or female pattern hair loss. The two FDA approved treatments are finasteride (marketed for hair loss as Propecia) and minoxidil.
The medical treatments as well as procedures used to treat hair loss, including Propecia, Minoxidil/Rogaine, Laser Therapy and Hair Transplantation are discussed in the short video below and you can get an idea of the various treatments that are available.



Considerable portions of the text here is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldness and is reproduced here under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License