Hair loss affects everyone, every day. Whether we want to open our eyes to it or not, we constantly have follicles naturally losing their little hair inhabitants. It’s happening when we’re dreaming of lying on a sun soaked secluded beach with no-one around but our lady, or washing our hair with the hope of stepping out with locks as slick as Leo's in Titanic, or when we're brushing our Fabio fringe for hours on end, admiring how devilishly cheeky we are (we’ve all done it…). These were the moments that made us realise, hot damn hombre, we’re going bald!
So, what’s the deal then? Why is this happening? What kind of bald is this? No one want’s to have a dodgy Donald comb-over trying to hold on to what little they have left, so we dug a bit deeper to get a better understanding of the different forms of hair loss and what our options are! Donald Trump for those wondering... ;)
Hair loss is caused by a number of factors, but in truth, alopecia is the word that brings on the dread, anxiety and self-conscious madness that comes hand in hand when hair decides to skip town. To put it simply, alopecia means hair loss… baldness… a cue ball… chrome dome… It basically means that your hair has reached it’s peak on party time. But alopecia isn’t just a black and white condition where you’ll one day have hair and the next day it's just gone!
P.s. You’re epic the way you are ;) Chrome dome or not, we still love you!
Androgenic Alopecia - Male Pattern Baldness
If you didn’t know already, androgenic alopecia refers specifically to males, and pattern baldness. Androgens, for those playing at home, are the male equivalent to estrogens, and are the reason for all that testosterone you've got pumpin' through your veins. But, when we’re manlier than men and have too much, DHT is produced. DHT is basically the bully on the playground that’s like, nup, sorry lil’ guy, I’m taking your lunch money (...lunch money being your hair).
Now strap in, I'm whippin' on my white coat, science is in session! Men's hair loss is caused by androgen-mediated follicular miniaturisation, that leads to the formation of vellus hair. Yeah! Cool, right? No! What the bloody hell does that even mean? Vellus hairs are all the tiny, thin, slightly coloured hairs that we find all over our body, but thanks to androgenic alopecia (which I'm now just going to refer to as MPB because I'm tired of typing it out), they’re starting to form the hairs on your head as well, hence the whole thinning, balding thing might have going on.
So… MPB is the genetic, specifically pattern like thinning or balding on the scalp. The whole process is gradual, and usually starts around your temples, forming the dreaded receding hairline (ya bloody bastard), moving back towards the crown. Everyone’s different though, things could kick off around the back end, at your crown, or you could just start generally losing hair volume on the top of your scalp. If you notice things early, and make a move on trying to sort it out as soon as possible, you can actually slow down the process and regain follicles strength, getting back that thicker mop you had in high school. The down side is, those of us with shitty genes and heaps of testosterone, we will eventually lose out hair, whether we like it or not… The aim of the game is to prevent that, which thankfully, we can!
Alopecia areata (AA) on the other hand, is an auto-immune disease that is caused by a predisposition within your genes. One in fifty people experience AA, making it a far more common condition than you’d think!
Basically, what happens is your genes have some form of predisposition or let’s call it a “your moody teenager version”. When an external environmental factor such as smoking or stress (or your mum asking you to clean your room), hits a sensitive spot, your immune system responds by attacking your hair follicles, causing patches of hair to quickly fall out (this is when you blew the hell up and started punching holes in walls).
Unlike MPA, AA causes hair to fall out in patches rather than in a gradual, pattern-like flow. The good news is it’s not permanent and leaves no scaring on the scalp. Unfortunately, AA cannot be cured or prevented, but like MPB, it can be treated with topical solutions and intensive medicinal treatments like intralesional steroids – more serious business.
We should also say, there are a bunch of forms of alopecia, some far more hectic and can leave you searching everywhere for what little hair you may have left on your body.
What are the Differences?
Even though, when we’re in the lab with our white coats and goggles, the names are similar and hair loss is the result, androgenic alopecia (MPB) and alopecia areata (AA) have a few, very distinct differences.
MPB is a genetic condition that results in gradual, pattern like hair loss because of below average genes and too much MAN! AA, although also genetic, is an autoimmune defence response that attacks the hair follicles, causing rapid hair loss in patches across the area of the scalp. Neither form of alopecia can be cured or prevented (...yet!), but can be treated (...yay!).
If you feel like you are starting to notice signs of androgenic alopecia, i.e. you're wearing a little thin up top, the earlier you get onto a treatment, the more likely it will be that you keep those budding follicles strong and healthy, like bull! Prevention is better than cure lads. If you're interested in making a move on hair loss, we have a range of hair loss treatment products!
Side Note: Anyone experiencing any form of alopecia should not be ashamed of the fact, nor should they be belittled or made fun of because of it. That ain’t the way the world should be, and it’s not what we’re about! Back your fellow balding friends. And for those of you looking to do something about your fleeting hair, the sooner you start treating things, the better off you’ll be!
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of joebloe, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.