Hair loss can be a traumatic and even life-altering experience for many people. Naturally when it starts happening, people try to find answers. While many are only interested in immediate results, you are one of those who are interested in the causes. One cause may be your parents. Unlike other factors that you can control, like environmental or dietary factors, hereditary hair loss may be beyond your control.
It is time for a short genetics lesson. The X chromosome carries the balding gene. Men can only get this from their mothers. Since women get this chromosome from both parents, the hereditary factor is a more dominant factor in women. So why do we hear much more about male pattern baldness? Because there are more factors than the chromosome that contribute to hair loss. Genetics determine everything in your makeup, including chemicals, enzymes, and hormones. This is why men with bald or balding fathers are very likely to have thinning hair, as well.
Hair loss, in general, worsens with age. Many attribute it to just being a natural part of the aging process. For those with marked hair loss or premature loss, genetics may be the culprit. Hair loss, even for those with the genetic predisposition, is connected to other factors. In both men and women, the other players are 5-α reductase, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hereditary hair loss is called androgenic alopecia. In this condition, the hair follicle shrinks. Hair that does grow is shorter and finer that hairs that used to grow. Eventually, new strands stop growing completely.
The type of hair loss can determine the best treatment. Those with patterned hair loss are great candidate for hair transplant surgery or better alternatives, such as NeoGraft technology. This type of hair loss is more common in men than women.
Women typically have diffuse thinning. While the hair loss occurs throughout the scalp, it may be especially noticed at the front and top of the scalp. The interplay of 5- α reductase with testosterone that produces DHT is what causes balding. Since women have only half of this enzyme that men do, women typically get the diffuse thinning versus the larger patches that men see. The enzyme aromatase and the hormones estrone and estradiol play parts, too. This is why women may not experience hair thinning until menopause despite having the genetic markers for it.
Those with genetically predisposed to hair loss can also have an underlying medical condition. It is important that whatever stage of your hair journey that you are on that you get the right consultation and tests to determine the cause of your loss. A molecular genetics tests for androgenetic alopecia can confirm the hereditary disposition. For the other potential underlying causes, you will need to consult with a dermatologist to rule them out or, conversely, treat them. Whether an underlying condition or a genetic predisposition, you do not need to surrender to hair loss. Call Dr. Guenthner at The Dermatology Center of Indiana for an appointment at either the Plainfield or Zionsville offices today.