In general most people these days are aware they can blame their parents for genetic baldness and fortunately the old snake-oil cure-alls are fading out. Most ‘cures’ were vasco-dilators (opening blood capillaries), while at the same time creating heat. The principal (first expounded by Hypocrites about 2,500 years ago) was that the ‘Tonic’ would heat the scalp; blood vessels would open to disperse this heat and in so doing, would feed hairs. It wasn’t until transplanting hairs came along that it was found your own body, not wasting anything, shut down the blood to bald scalps where the hair roots no longer needed the strong sub-epidermal capillary supply.
We now know that hair growth in men can be affected by:
- A time triggered genetic predisposition towards baldness which can be inherited from either parent. This is where the hair growing structures on the top/front of the scalp can be detrimentally influenced by sex hormones causing the hair follicles to genetically shrink in size and healthy hair root cells to stop reproduction. After puberty, men’s hair can start to thin in areas, dependent on their inherited characteristics. Thinning of this hair can indicate either a genetic message and/or a sex hormone imbalance. Often the causes are multiple and can be compounded by other disorders. The earlier you seek treatment the better the results. Visit a Clive Clinic’s Trichologist to get a personal consultation and assessment of your condition.
- Imbalances of nutrients available to the hair roots – either through poor diet, malabsorption or maldistribution. Often high levels of toxins accumulate at the hair roots, worsening the thinning. We recommend a personal consultation and a full hair analysis test in order to provide a customised programme of treatment designed for you personally.
- Tension of the skin crownal area, causing a decreased blood supply which can produce weak hairs. Although massage or topical vasco-dilatory treatment containing the drug minoxidil can benefit circulation by carrying more oxygen and nutrients to the hair roots – beware, the extra blood will also carry more hormones which could trigger more baldness. Our customised treatment programmes are non-drug and utilise massage and topical stimulant treatments. Dietary supplements can also often assist when added to the treatment package.
- Stress (mental, dietary or physical) in men can promote enzyme activity within the cell and stimulate testosterone production, mainly from the adrenal (stress) glands. You should monitor stress levels or ask a Trichologist for help in assisting your body to deal with stress. In general, anything unusual experienced by the body causes stress – this can be either an unpleasant or pleasant experience. Pituitary or adrenal gland disorders can trigger androgen levels to increase. Appropriate tests should identify the cause, which can then be corrected.
- Scalp disorders can also cause hair loss either directly or indirectly.
Through any of the above, hormones can more readily enter cells in the follicles and hair roots through a time triggered keyhole called an ‘androgen receptor’,where they will unite with an enzyme, 5 alpha reductase (5-AR), creating a chemical messenger di-hydro testosterone (DHT) which is capable of triggering an ageing factor in the DNA. This ageing of the hair follicle cells will result in miniaturisation of the hair follicles and decreased hair root cell activity. These two actions will also result in decreased blood availability at the hair roots. The sub-epidermal area can carry 75% of scalp blood (and is the first area to be affected as the scalp tightens). When the hair follicles atrophy, they will draw blood increasingly from the dermal area which carries only about 20% of the scalps blood. Decreased need for sub-epidermal blood results in calcification of that capillary bed, resulting in: less blood available, slower healing and less hair.
Follicle length also determines the length of the anagen (growth) phase of that particular hair – short follicles produce short hairs like those found on the arms and face of a child. In an adolescent male, the facial and main trunk hairs (genetically designed to grow) are stimulated by the production of DHT to produce deeper follicles resulting in stronger hair in those areas. Regrettably the same reaction will miniaturise scalp follicles and hairs. At that stage treatments with a strong stimulant like minoxidil can improve the length of those hairs however there can be side effects and once the minoxidil product is stopped, the next generation of hair will return to, at most, its genetically shortened length. Adding an ‘Enzyme Blocker’ will help to stabalise the loss. Visit a Clive Clinic’s Trichologist to check your suitability for this.
The drug Finesteride used in Propecia® (1%) and Proscar® (5%) have been medically shown to reduce enzyme 5-AR activity, although multiple side effects can restrict its use. For further details or advice, contact a Trichologist or your doctor.