Simply defined, baldness is thinning or loss of hair. It is also called alopecia. Baldness is most commonly associated with men and is referred to as male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia. There are two distinct types of baldness. One causes permanent hair loss due to severe damage to the hair follicles or other abnormalities. The other is due to a temporary damage to the follicles.
Genetics play a key role in the onset of baldness. Other common factors include aging, hormone variations and medications for any ailments. Certain disorders may also be the underlying cause for hair loss and may be identified based on the symptoms.
1. Alopecia Areata – This causes sudden loss of hair from a particular area on the scalp. Although the exact cause for this condition is not clear, it is believed to occur due to an autoimmune condition (a condition where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells)
2. Toxic Alopecia – Medical conditions like cancer, thyroid or other severe illness may cause temporary hair loss
The symptoms usually associated with male-pattern baldness are hair thinning or loss from the sides or the crown of the head resulting in a receding hairline or a bald spot.
The less common female-pattern baldness is characterized by thinning of hair from all over the head. It rarely results in total baldness.
The treatment for baldness depends on factors such as underlying causes, severity and other factors as determined through preliminary investigations. Few treatment options are as follows:
1. Hair transplantation – One of the key points to note is that hair transplantation is not suitable for people with complete baldness. If the candidates have healthy hair growth on the sides and the back of the head then these areas can be used as donor areas for grafts and flaps.
2. Topical application of drugs – This involves application of drugs like minoxidil, directly onto the thinning areas of the scalp on a daily basis. This could be effective in preventing further hair loss.
3. Systemic application of drugs – This oral medication, finasteride is effective in preventing further hair loss and promoting the growth of new hair in some cases.
It is imperative to note that there are side effects associated with the treatments. One must consider all the aspects before deciding on a treatment option in consultation with a dermatologist.
- Complications from hair transplant procedures can lead to irregular, patchy hair growth, bleeding of scars or infection
- Topical medications can cause weight gain, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, swelling of the extremities, face or abdomen.
- Oral medications can have side effects including rashes, swelling of the face, itching, depression and so on.