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Balding: Fear of Falling (Follicles)

Updated on June 23, 2011

Bald, Bald, Bald, Bald

NOT, the author... yet.
NOT, the author... yet. | Source

The Bald Truth

I warrant a guess that outside of possibly death or a movie starring Meg Ryan, that the two things men fear most are balding and impotence. As for the latter, I have not had any affiliation as of yet (I'll keep everyone posted as I age -- perhaps it will provide fodder for a future post). However for the former, I have unfortunately, like many of my XY chromosome brethren (it's estimated that 35-40 million American men are balding or bald), found myself engaging in an uncomfortable alliance.

I've been blessed with a thick head of dark, curly hair, which even now hides much of my hair loss. I'm getting the old Friar Tuck in back (at least I don't have to have it stare me down every day in the mirror) and unless my hair is wet, it's not all that noticeable. My wife, bless her attentive heart, is keeping me posted on the traitorous desertion from my scalp. Honestly, I've had suspicions that I could lose my hair someday and I was prepared to bald in the same fashion as my dad. And this has proven to be the case so far.  So, I've had some clue as what I may look like without hair -- although, to be honest, I'm thinner than my father was and, as I've taken better care of myself physically (he was a hard drinker and strict red meat and potato kind of guy who engaged in little exercise, while I'm a moderate drinker and vegetarian who engages in not enough moderate exercise) I say without ego, that I do look younger than he did at the same age (41).  Don't you dare question this -- I have photos to prove it!

The question is, as I'm sure you, dear reader must know (if you're not bald or balding, why would you be reading this?), what do we do about our hair loss?

Harried Hair

A hair growth cycle normally lasts 24 - 36 months. Each hair has roughly a centimeter of growth per month during that time. Approximately 90 percent of your scalp's follicles are growing, while 10 percent are in a "resting phase" according to Resting hair falls out and new hair replaces it after 3 to 4 months.

Lifestyle, stress, trauma, medications, genetics are all causes of hair loss. But let's face it, we don't care what's causing us to go bald, we just don't want to do it.

Recently, I've been reading a lot about DHT and its association with balding.  I  had never heard of it before.

From Wikipedia:

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) a powerful sex hormone, body, and facial hair growth promoter that can adversely affect the prostate as well as the hair located on the head.[1]

The mechanism by which DHT accomplishes this is not yet fully understood. In genetically-prone scalps, DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturization. Through the process of follicular miniaturization, hair shaft width is progressively decreased until scalp hair resembles fragile vellus hair or "peach fuzz" or else becomes non-existent. Onset of hair loss sometimes begins as early as end of puberty, and is mostly genetically determined. Male pattern baldness is classified on the Hamilton-Norwood scale I-VII.

Three Options Rolled Into One...

To Bald or Not To Bald

Once there were three options: go bald gracefully, go bald ungracefully, wear a toupee. With the onslaught of modern science, the men of the world have several avenues in which they can attempt to alleviate ye olde Androgenic alopecia. This may include hair plugs, specialty shampoos, medications, herbal remedies.

I can speak from experience on two of these methods: shampoo and herbal.

About five or six years ago my wife was concerned that the hair being left in the shower and on my pillow were not of equal value to that which was growing on my noggin'. Our neighbor, who was in his 70s and a hairstylist told me that when he was in his 30s he started noticing his own hair was slowly falling out. Someone recommended that he take Paba (Para-aminobenzoic acid - a component of folic acid. Although, there have been no known tests that have proved its efficacy with hair loss) and Vitamin E. Having a full head of hair as a septuagenarian, he claimed, was due to this. I immediately jumped on that bandwagon. At the same time, my wife did some research and recommended I try Nioxin. Nioxin is an over the counter shampoo and conditioning treatment that claims to help some who have hair loss.

About two years ago, I stopped taking the Vitamin E supplements, instead taking a multi-vitamin (Source of Life Adults Chewable, if anyone cares...) and krill oil. I still take Paba several times a week. The Nioxin is the only shampoo I've used in that time. I seemed to be doing pretty well with my balding up until I stopped using Vitamin E, but I cannot say for sure if I had continued its use it whether or not I would have more hair. Recently, I've stopped using the Nioxin, because my wife discovered that it contained sodium laurel sulfate (we had assumed otherwise and we all know what happens when one assumes), a known carcinogen that is found in virtually every shampoo.

Now, onto the next phase of my hair loss prevention: more herbs! The wife, my intrepid user of the internet, did more research and found another supplement that I am now using. This is Hair Essentials, which uses several Chinese herbs along with some more common vitamins.  It supposedly decreases DHT levels.   I've been on it for three days now. They claim remarkable hair regrowth and from anywhere to 30-90 days.It's a lark, but I'm gung-ho. We'll see what happens.

I'm resigned to the fact that if I have to lose my hair, then I have to lose it. I'd prefer not to, of course. More than once I considered shaving it all off because I wanted to know what I would look like bald. Being lazy, though, is also a concern. I hate shaving my face, I can't imagine having to shear the whole head. And how does one not make a mess while doing this, and shave every hair to boot... how do you see the back of your head anyway???? How do men do it?

And here's the deal, I'm going to be your guinea pig, dear reader. Below is my scalp as it is today. Over the next three months, I'll continue to post photos of my head and together we'll see what happens. If it works for me, it may work for you. Then again, if it works for me, it may not work for you. Who's to say? But, if I can give a little bit of hope to my fellow balding men, then by Jove, I would like to do so!

An island where no island should be
An island where no island should be

British Bald Guys vs. American Bald Guys

Has anyone else noticed that the British don't seem to give a damn about losing their hair? It appears that they're fine with the proposition. Why, just look at the acting ranks.

We're British and we're bald and we get more action than Sinatra
We're British and we're bald and we get more action than Sinatra | Source

Sure, I know, Bruce Willis, Ed Harris, Woody Harrelson went bald, didn't give a flying fig and are still stars. But, they're the exceptions...

Show me an actor from the United Kingdom with a crappy rug.  C'mon, I dare ya!  You can't can you?

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance's Wig
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance's Wig | Source

And then, of course...

No Comment...

Fact or Fiction

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Excerpt from THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY by Ambrose Bierce

AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.

At what age did you notice you were losing your hair?

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    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

      Farmer Ted, I'll ask my husband if he's interested. But he is a security guard and doesn't get on the internet much, though.

    • Farmer Ted profile image

      Farmer Ted 6 years ago from US

      Tell that to the Elephant Man

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Then again, a good sense of humor may have even more value than a well shaped bald head and some British confidence.

    • Farmer Ted profile image

      Farmer Ted 6 years ago from US

      Thanks, Tracy I appreciate the comment. Hopefully, if I too have to go bald, I can radiate that confidence. Of course, it could turn out I have a misshapen head like a lump of play-do...

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      I loved reading your personal story and enjoyed the British vs. English comparison with photos. I think the bald British men look better than the American men who have had some kind of work done. It seems that feeling confident from the inside radiates out and matters most. Nice hub, I look forward to reading more from you. Voted up.

    • Farmer Ted profile image

      Farmer Ted 6 years ago from US

      Bethperry: I am interested in knowing the process, pains, difficulties, etc that one has to go through to shave their head. Please entice him to write a hub.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

      Very interesting info here.

      My husband started losing his hair and he shaved it. I cried at first, then by 3 days later I was in total love with that sexy shaven scalp and I wouldn't change it for anything!

    • Farmer Ted profile image

      Farmer Ted 6 years ago from US

      Looking at Meg in the 80s rocked, but I can't say the same about her movies.

    • profile image

      Beaks 6 years ago from USA

      Wow, I never thought of the British vs. American hair loss thing. That is totally true, though. But, what's wrong with Meg Ryan? I mean, Meg Ryan in the 80s? She rocked.