Tresses, Mane, Locks, Tuft, Mop, Fuzz, Tendrils, Mullet, Crowning Glory…a few descriptive names for hair. There is black, brown, blonde, red, and grey and the countless shades of each color that fall in the spectrum in between or the lack of color when you get to grey. But, let’s not forget the ones who don’t have to experience bed head…our folks without hair or baldness. I’m not talking about those that shave their head…that’s not bald, that is an elective choice, not a genetic bullet that steals the hair one strand at a time from your head. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I think bald can be quite beautiful. I’ve seen many fine heads that nature chose to squelch the life out of a healthy follicle, thus causing hair to dive to its death onto a shoulder.
What I want to talk about is when you don’t have a choice. We don’t get to choose our genetics (at least not yet); we don’t anticipate contracting certain illnesses; we are prescribed medications to treat our disease processes; and some of us work with chemicals in our jobs that over time contribute to hair loss.
Men, women, even children can experience some form of baldness in their lifetime. There is an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata that afflicts almost 7 million people in the US alone, and over 147 million worldwide. Baldness can be as little as patches to widespread hair loss over the whole body. The nature of hair loss and regrowth is cyclical and can be triggered by stress or biological origins such as an infection, but it is genetic. To date, there is no cure, but treatment options are available. https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata
The most common hair loss is early pattern baldness. I must tell you ladies, this does not just affect men. Oh, I surely wish I did not have to claim this condition for myself…but, about 10 years ago I was told by my dermatologist, I had early female pattern baldness. I immediately went into great denial that I was losing my hair. This just did NOT happen to women, right? I don’t recall covering this issue as a problem for women in nursing school or cosmetology school 30+ years ago, for that matter. I think that is what prolonged the denial phase. Then I went into the next stage which was anger.
At one point I cut my hair short to see if I could get it to look fuller, thicker. Bwahahaha….an illusion, I promise you. You can’t make a few strands of wheat look like a full crop by cutting it back. I even purchased a wig to wear on my, “gee, that sure is a lot of scalp” days when I would look in the mirror and see the remaining strands of hair on my head would not provide enough cover in lieu of their fallen comrades. The anger phase didn’t last long.
Now the bargaining and depression stages, are a bit of a blur. Why? Because I believe this is where I sunk all my energy into finding products to regrow the sparse areas on top of my head. Let me tell you, there are quite a few products out there that really help regrow hair. But, what many hair regrowth products don’t or won’t tell you is this: once you start using the product, seeing positive results, YOU MUST KEEP ON USING IT OR YOUR HAIR WILL FALL OUT, AGAIN!!! Oh, this was a hard lesson learned. After a year of using a commonly advertised hair regrowth product, and obtaining great results, I quit using the product, thinking I had hit my goal…this was as full as I was going to get my head of hair again. Over the next three months afterwards, I was back to square one as all my new growth left me and took a few survivors with it.
That is when I finally ascertained stage five, acceptance. I was never going to have a thickly coiffed head of hair again. I was now nearly 50 and the days of my vanity were long slipping into the past. Then, I met someone at work who was a distributor of products from a company I never heard of, Poofy Organics. I had accepted my thin hair status, but she kept talking about these all-natural products and how it could help, at least give the appearance of, thicker hair. I decided I need shampoo anyway, so what the heck, and I bought some. Glad to say, my hair did regrow back in many of the areas I was quite thin. Now, I am by no means thickly coiffed, but my scalp is also not the first thing I see when I look in the mirror.
Now, is that because my vanity has now been put in its place or because I have accepted my early female pattern baldness status? Either way, I do have more hair than I did 5 years ago and I have become quite lazy about using the products and still have my hair, although the hair that has grown back is void of color.
You just can’t escape your genetic makeup. A study of 547 men with early pattern baldness by the University of Bonn in 2017, noted the genetic factor of early pattern baldness with the variants in or near genes that participate in hormonal status, melatonin signaling, fat cell differentiation, and the growth phases of hair.
Did you know that twenty percent of men in their 20’s start exhibiting signs of hair loss and forty percent of men when they reach their 40’s. The number then climbs to eighty percent by the time they reach their 80’s. Do you know the statistics for women? Twelve percent by age 29 and forty-five percent by the time they are 40. The increase in hair loss for women is also noticeable around the years of menopause.
Medication, chemicals, diseases
Now, hair loss cannot just be blamed on genetics. We can also attribute some hair loss to various medications, chemicals and diseases processes. Some prescribed medications for hypertension (elevated BP), epilepsy, acne, and cancer, to name a few can cause hair loss, but the effect is usually reversible once you stop taking the drug. However, for some diseases, stopping medication is not possible. This is called drug-induced hair loss and the severity depends on the type of drug and dosage, as well as your sensitivity to that drug.
Some harsh chemicals people use in their jobs daily can cause hair loss, such as heavy metals, copper, and pesticides containing formaldehyde or arsenic. Great care needs to be taken if you work with these metals or chemicals, because not only hair loss is a symptom of over-exposure, but your health can suffer, too.
Lastly, there are several diseases that can cause your locks to disappear. Various conditions of the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands, Hodgkin’s disease, lupus, celiac disease, syphilis (and yes, folks, that STD is still alive and kicking), and malnutrition which occurs when your body doesn’t absorb the right amount of nutrients (this is frequently seen when gastric bypass, stapling or banding is done).
I guess to sum all this up, I ask, “Does hair make the man (or woman)?” The answer is yes…and most definitely no. Although, we tend to identify ourselves with our hair, in its abundance or lack thereof, it should not represent who we are on the inside. Hair loss may cause low self-esteem, stress, or even depression, but aren’t we worthy of a better opinion of ourselves? I, for one, have learned a great vanity lesson over the last 10 years. Yes, I loved having a thick head of hair, but hair is a part of the exterior me. When you like or love people for the qualities they possess on the inside, you look past what little hair they may have. Remember, let your heart define you, not your hair. Peace and joy until next time. Deanna
If you want to look at Poofy Organics products, which I have tried several for skin, hair and nails, and highly recommend, here is the link site I use to browse the catalog and buy… https://bit.ly/PoofyOrganicsbyJessicaDuganCatalog2017