Balding affects males and females and can start as early as teens or later in life. This article will discuss how to tell if you are going bald and what to do about it.
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What is considered balding?
Balding, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the progressive loss of hair loss that occurs on the top areas of the scalp:
- Front hairline
- Frontal forelock
- Mid forelock
- And the crown area
How To Tell if You Are Going Bald
Balding can be a slow process that takes a few months to years to manifest.
Some of the ways you can tell that you are balding are if you notice the following signs of hair loss and symptoms:
Excessive hair shedding
Excessive hair shedding is when you lose hair in clumps. Hair comes off easily on minimal manipulation during:
- combing or brushing
- running your fingers on your hair
- washing your hair
- rubbing your head on your bedding or a surface
Excessive hair shedding should not be confused with normal hair shedding. Normal hair shedding occurs during the hair’s growth cycle. During telogen, also known as the shedding phase, the hair follicle releases the hair shaft as it prepares to generate a new hair shaft. The released hair shaft is then removed from the scalp during combing, washing, or just by wind blowing on the hair. 1% of the hair on the scalp is in the telogen phase. It is normal to lose 50 – 100 strands of hair in a day.
The reason why hair sheds excessively in balding is due to the shortened growth phase in androgenetic alopecia.
Receding front hairline and temples
One of the other common signs of balding is a receding hairline. The hairline moves back from its original area, exposing the forehead more. In people with a window’s peak, this may disappear or become smaller.
The temples begin to sink in from the hair loss creating a conspicuous “M” shape on the hairline.
Slow hair growth
Androgenetic alopecia causes the hair to have a shorter growing phase on the affected area. One sign of hair loss is when the frontal forelock, mid forelock, and crown areas have slower hair growth compared to the back of the head and the sides. As a result, the hair in these areas is shorter and sometimes finer than in the rest of the areas.
Widening hair part
Balding may also manifest as a widening part on the top of the head. The parting between two sections of hair increases in width. People who keep medium to long hair may notice this.
For those who braid their hair, the partings between sections of hair made during braiding may appear wider. As these sections get wider, one notable sign of significant hair loss is the decrease in braids at the forelock and crown area. Someone who is installing thirty braids on the vertex and forelock area may find that despite installing same-size braids, that number is gradually decreasing to 25,20,15, and so on over time.
Balding or androgenetic alopecia may start showing as a bald area on the top part of the scalp. The bald patches may form as areas with less hair that become bald over time. Mostly there will be a circular bald spot at the crown area that enlarges with time.
You may start noticing that the hair is becoming thin at the forelock and the top of your head. The scalp becomes more visible in these areas. Singular hair strands have less diameter and sometimes easily break as they are thin and fragile. In long-haired persons, a ponytail becomes smaller over time from the thinning.
People who wear locs experience thinning locs on the crown and forelock and may need to join two or more locs to achieve the thickness of locs on the sides and back of the scalp.
Scalp itch and sensitivity
The scalp becomes itchy and sensitive at the crown and forelock areas. Sometimes exposure to the sun causes sensitivity in the top area. Braiding, heat styling, twisting, or hair manipulation at the top of the scalp starts to be painful.
There may be painful bumps or pimples on the forelock and crown area that appear and resolve on themselves and sometimes linger for a long time.
As balding begins, flaking on the crown and forelock may be caused by excessive skin shedding triggered by possible inflammation. The flaking may resolve after moisturizing but recurs after some time.
What to do
Balding interventions aim to:
- Prevent any further type of hair loss
- Thicken the hair
- Restore any lost hair follicles
- And resolve any scalp inflammation.
Some of the things that you can do to resolve balding are:
- Having proper nutrition
- Using oral medications ;finasteride, minoxidil and dutasteride.
- Using topical applications such as minoxidil
- Performing Platelet Rich Plasma procedures
- Performing hair transplant
- Using Low-level laser therapy.
Nutritional deficiencies can be one of the root causes of hair loss. Elements such as vitamin D, zinc, iron, and other micronutrient play an important role in hair growth, prevention, and resolving baldness. A healthy diet rich in macro and micro elements goes a long way in arresting balding in its early stages.
Finasteride blocks the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – a male hormone- by acting on the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. This enzyme converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is responsible for balding.
This FDA-approved drug comes in two forms: oral and topical. Minoxidil works by:
- improving blood circulation around the hair follicles
- prolonging the anagen phase
- and curbing inflammation on the scalp.
Dutasteride works like finasteride with one additional benefit. Unlike finasteride which blocks one type of 5 alpha reductase enzyme, dutasteride blocks both type one and type two, making it more potent in stopping balding.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet Rich Plasma(PRP) provides the affected hair follicles with growth factors. The growth factors help supply the hair follicles with new blood supply channels and thicken healthy hair.
A hair transplant is a technique that introduces new hair follicles in areas with lost hair follicles. Grafts are harvested from the donor area and placed on the affected are-hairline, forelock, or crown area.
Low-level laser therapy
Low-level laser therapy uses wavelengths that penetrate the scalp and act on the hair follicles to stimulate growth and thicken hair follicles.
Now you know how to tell if you are going bald. Early signs of balding can be easily missed or confused with other hair loss conditions. Keenly observing and assessing your hair helps discover any clear signs and symptoms of balding early enough. Once you pick the first signs and symptoms of hair loss, successfully managing the balding becomes a step closer.
Celestine is certified by the International Association of Trichologists (IAT). She has written articles on hair and scalp health to create awareness. Celestine was a key note speaker at the first Virtual World Trichology Society Summit in May 2021 speaking about hair transplant techniques on afro ethnic hair.