Maybe you know a guy, maybe you've heard his story, or you're him: He who once had thick, healthy, shiny, enviable hair, now is bald.
Was it because his mom's dad was bald -- it's a common conception that it skips generations -- or was it his testosterone? And will it happen to you?
We asked Dr. Alan J. Bauman, a board-certified hair restoration physician in Boca Raton, Florida, to help us comb through the facts.
Yes, it can skip generations:
"There are over 200 genes that we’re aware of now that regulate hair and hair growth," Bauman, who sees more than 1,000 patients a year in his clinic, told HuffPost. "Color quality, texture, length of growth cycles, balding patterns, the speed of balding -- all of those put together will determine how quickly you see loss occur, how quickly it progresses, and how long it will occur later in life."
It comes down to the X-linked chromosome that comes from your mom and the Y-chromosome that carries the baldness gene that can come from your dad.
"It could skip generations, skip siblings. That’s how a recessive gene typically works," Bauman said. So look at your whole family -- siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles -- to see if there's any hair loss amongst them. If so, early intervention is best.
But there's more to it:
A lot of factors can trigger hair loss, Bauman said: Certain medicines, your diet and sleep-wake cycles are a few examples. "Hair follicles can be quite sensitive."
But a main cause is stress, which is "certainly a trigger in every single patient that comes through the door."
What can you do?
Stay observant. "You can lose up to 50 percent of your hair mass without it being noticeable to the naked eye," Bauman said. "That’s really the problem."
Look for symptoms of hair loss in places other than your head: On your pillows, in your shower drain -- if you see more of your hair around the house, you could be in a period of hair loss.
You can make an appointment with a trichologist to have your scalp evaluated, or seek out special treatments such as a scalp makeover, which Bauman administers at his Boca Raton clinic.
"That’s the amazing thing today," Bauman said. "Effective treatments are available."
Whether through oral treatments, topical medications, laser light therapy, nutritional modifications and eliminating your risk factors, "There's a lot of things you can do to stop the progression of hair loss today," he said. "The realm of 20 years ago, where everything was snake oil and hogwash, is over."
Not every method works for everyone, so talk to your doctor to find out which treatments can work for you.
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