Hair Loss Clinics Starkville MS
How to Hang on to Your Hair
By Jane Meredith Adams
The hair in my drain-catch looked like a small toupee, a curly clump that should have been on my head but instead had bolted for freedom during my shower. I was, naturally enough, alarmed. Fat is welcome to shed itself at any time, but I strongly prefer my hair to stay where it is.
By the end of the week, I’d lost enough to make a nice hair shirt, or at least a hair tank top. The exact damage was impossible to ascertain because when it’s your hair in the drain, the horror of what you’re seeing there overpowers the rational mind.
Before you could say “Sam Donaldson’s toupee isn’t really that bad,” I was at the health-food store perusing a shelf of vitamins and supplements for hair. The vast array of choices was daunting. So I decided to back up and start with some basic questions, like why am I losing my hair anyway? And, is there anything I can do to stop it?
In such a way did I begin to unravel the science of hair loss and its sidekick, hair thinning. Right off the bat I stumbled across the worst-case scenario: If you think you have the gene for male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness—a gene that can be inherited from either your mother or your father—there’s probably not much you can do to reverse the downward slide unless you rely on hard-core prescription drugs like Propecia, which is approved only for men, or Rogaine, for both men and women. Propecia works by restricting production of dihydrotestosterone, the key hormone involved in hair loss, while Rogaine revitalizes shrunken hair follicles and extends the hair-growth period.
Even if you don’t have the gene, the odds of hair loss are stacked against you: Men in their twenties have a 20 percent chance of it, in their thirties a 30 percent chance, and so on, according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. For women, the numbers are just as grim once we reach our forties and our hormone levels change. But the symptoms aren’t nearly as severe. Even the dreaded female-pattern baldness, which refers to extreme thinning on the top of your head, can usually be masked by clever styling.
I don’t think I have the gene for female-pattern baldness—my mom had a decent head of hair until her sixties, when she died, and the hair on my 77-year-old dad, while noticeably thinner, is still clinging stubbornly to his scalp.
But even if you dodge the genetic baldness bullet, your hair begins to thin in your twenties. No one knows exactly why, but aging is a likely factor. “The rate at which your hair follicles shrink begins to increase,” says Leslie Mark, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine. “This produces hairs that are thinner and often shorter.”
I’m only in my forties, though, and my tresses are getting thinner by the minute. I can fluff them up the way I remember my mother doing on special occasions—by teasing with a comb. I can use any one of dozens of products that bulk...
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