Baldness - Can We Change the Plans of our Dna?

By: Dave Niss

The Role of Genetics in Hair Loss

Our genes are responsible for determining our eye color, skin type and yes, our predisposition to hair loss. However, the gene responsible for hair loss has "variable expression". This means that even if the gene was passed to you by your parents, you may not experience premature hair thinning and loss. A number of factors work together to either contribute to the problem, or to prevent it from worsening.

These factors include your diet, the level of stress in your everyday life and your lifestyle including habits such as smoking cigarettes and exercise. However, the most influential factor is a chemical called DHT. Dihydrotesterone is a by-product of testosterone, which is why men are more often affected with hair loss than women.

Men who are predisposed to early hair loss by their genetics will find the problem compounded if they are also sensitive to DHT. The chemical causes the hair follicles to shrink, effectively choking off the hair shaft and causing it to thin and eventually disappear. The hair follicles on the top and sides of the scalp are most likely to be affected by this type of baldness.

Solutions and Treatment

While it is not possible to "fix" or change the gene responsible for hair loss, it is possible to treat the problem and prevent it from worsening. There are several medications available to help combat the symptoms and prevent hair loss.

Rogaine is a medication applied to the scalp twice a day. The active ingredient is a medication called Minoxidil. It works by stimulating hair growth and is effective in 50-55% of the people who use it. Rogaine is available over the counter.

Propecia, or finasteride, is a prescription drug that lowers the body's levels of DHT. This prevents the shrinkage of the hair follicles that causes hair to thin and eventually stop growing.

Some men opt for surgery to treat their thinning hairline. Specialists can remove the part of the scalp affected by hair loss and pull the areas thick with hair over to cover the bald spots. If that seems too drastic for some, hair plugs are also an option. Learn more about baldness solutions and treatments.

Alternative Causes for Hair Loss

Some men, though not genetically predisposed to hair loss, still find themselves with thinning hair or a receding hairline. These people may not respond to drugs such as Rogaine or Propecia because of the cause of the problem. Telogen effluvium and Anagen effluvium are two conditions that refer to a problem with different growth stages of the hair. These conditions most often affect people who have undergone surgery, had treatments for cancer, or have low levels of iron. Alopecia areata is a condition for which the cause is unknown, but it has been linked to high levels of stress. Read more about hair loss causes.

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