The balding conundrum: How can men deal with it
Feb, 10 2020 | By Dr. Sangay Bhutia (Hair Transplant Specialist in Delhi)
In India, a great way to impart life lessons is through stories. Often told and re-told by the elders in the family. These stories often address social as well as moral dilemmas. In one of the stories a child asks his grandmother - my friends have a lot of toys, while I hardly have any. Is it because I was born in a poor family? I am extremely ashamed of my situation, the child said. The grandmother sighed, sat the child down and said: why look at those who have more toys than you? Why don’t you instead look at those boys who have none? Are you not in a better situation than them, the grandma asked. It makes the child think.
In a very similar context we could, like grandma, help you look at things differently. We could ask you to look at all the other qualities you have, or the things that you have that others don’t. It might allay your concerns about thinning hair or baldness for a brief while but it does not solve your problem. A story will not help your hair re-grow, it could possibly make you feel better about yourself, and that can be helpful. How we look, or our appearance, does not define who we are, it is our talents and qualities that matter. However, for a lot of people facing hair loss or baldness, it might not address the loss of self-esteem and confidence that you confront everyday. So what do we do?
There are mechanisms through which you can deal with hair loss and balding. They range from lifestyle choices, psychological help, meditation and exercise, to medication or surgery. We will discuss those in some detail. But let us address some basics before we get into the details.
Over the years, we have seen a lot of young people especially men in their late twenties and early thirties grapple with hair loss. It is more common than ever before. There could be a variety of reasons for it, namely:
Genetics : Most people face hair fall as they age. The main reason behind genetic hair loss is the Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is a sex hormone. It causes changes in the hair growth cycle, which leads to thinner or miniaturised hair.
Lifestyle : Nutritional deficiencies, crash dieting, sedentary lifestyle can all lead to hair loss.
Stress : Various kinds of hair loss like Telogen effluvium (a scalp disorder where hair follicles enter into the resting phase of hair growth early, resulting in hair fall); Alopecia Areata (an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks your hair follicles); Trichotillomania or hair pulling disorder, can be induced by stress.
Environment : External factors like exposure to environmental pollutants like dust and smoke settling into hair and causing dandruff and weakening hair can lead to hair loss.
It could either be one of the above or a combination of many. But the result is hair loss, and in some cases it is premature. And that could impact your personality and career in more ways than one. You could be at the receiving end of bald-men jokes. You will feel uneasy with your looks, and others will start looking at you differently. You may start looking older than you are, feel less social, and be treated at work differently, and all these can have a variety of implications. Loss of confidence, lack of self-esteem, and in some extreme cases even depression. And in such a mental state, you might even lose out on professional opportunities. It is therefore extremely important that you deal with the balding conundrum.
One of the first things we advise is to see an expert if you haven’t already. Each case of hair loss and eventual balding is unique. It is contingent on your medical history, lifestyle, genetics, and various other factors often beyond your control, it can be stress, dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle or even something like air pollution. Therefore, the expert is best positioned to understand your case. Tell them everything. Not just the fact that you are losing hair, but also discuss your mental state. Tell them about your fears, of what you feel and most importantly you should try and understand the remedial measures.
The expert will prescribe the required medicines and also chart your lifestyle. Medicines like minoxidil (Rogaine) or finasteride (Propecia) are known to be helpful especially in early stages of genetic hair loss.
The important thing with balding or hair loss is to diagnose the reason behind it. While nutrition, illness or lifestyle related hair loss can be cured by fixing the root cause, genetic hair loss also has a cure, in the form of hair transplants. Now, the word transplant does scare some people. But it should not. Modern technology allows you to look the way you want to and also solve a longstanding problem of hair loss.
Other than medication and transplant - there are diets and lifestyle choices that can have an impact. A protein rich diet with adequate zinc, iron and vitamins is absolutely essential. The expert can help you put together a personalised diet chart that can build immunity and strengthen follicles. But if you smoke, drink or engage in other forms of recreational drugs then you will have to give them up. In these cases, you have to make a choice -- hair and health or the misery of hair loss?
Modern lifestyle with hectic work schedules have added to the stress levels. As we discussed, it has been proven that stress is an important reason for hair loss. So what do you do? the simple answer is exercise or find other forms of mindful activities. They can provide a great way to de-stress and also improve blood flow to your scalp. It strengthens not just your muscles but also your hair.
There are many ways to deal with the balding conundrum, the only important thing to do is to seek help.