Why is the fight against baldness deadly?

Although both sexes suffer from baldness, men are the main clients of firms that promise to help cope with this problem. According to experts, the market volume of anti-baldness products reaches one and a half billion euros per year. We talk about ways to combat hair loss and their effectiveness.

According to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence of Great Britain (NICE), androgenetic alopecia affects 30 percent of men under the age of 30 and 80 percent over 70 years. To a lesser extent, the problem affects Asians and blacks.

Androgenetic alopecia is a thinning of the hair leading to baldness of the parietal and frontal areas in men and women. It accounts for 95 percent of cases of male baldness. Alopecia is a consequence of the destructive effect of the male hormone testosterone on the hair follicles. Their dystrophy develops, the hair becomes so thin that it is unable to cover the scalp. The vulnerability of follicles is determined by heredity. The genes that are most likely to lead to hair loss have already been established, and they can be used to determine the tendency to hereditary baldness.

Although the causes of baldness are well known to science, for many non-specialists it remains a mystery. Blame everything: clogged pores, excessive shampoo, improper combing or poor water quality. No, the problem is in the body itself. Modern medicine offers two ways to combat alopecia — drug therapy and transplantation.

Dermatologist Walter Unger has found that the hair on the back of the head has an innate resistance to the action of testosterone and therefore does not fall out. To do this, he had to examine the scalps (anatomical term for the area of the scalp where hair grows) of 328 randomly selected men over 65 years of age with varying degrees of male pattern baldness. He was looking for areas where at least eight hairs per circle with a diameter of four millimeters were preserved.

According to the principle called donor dominance, it is these hairs that are used for transplantation, since it does not matter where exactly they grow. The experiments led to the development of a procedure for Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). A small piece of scalp is removed from the head and cut into very small fragments, which are inserted into the area affected by alopecia.

According to some experts, FUT is the best way to transplant hair, but it has one drawback. The procedure leaves a long scar — where a strip of skin was removed. In addition, several unsuccessful operations, which affected celebrities, created a bad reputation for this type of transplantation.

Another type of hair transplant is called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Thousands of follicles are extracted individually with a special tool. This is a time—consuming process that requires high concentration of attention from the doctor, and patience from the patient. The removed follicles are then inserted into special incisions, where they give life to new hair.

Medications may seem to be a relatively easy way to treat. However, there are only two approved drugs on the market — minoxidil and finasteride — and neither of them can reverse baldness.

The link between minoxidil and hair growth was first noticed in the 60s when testing the effectiveness of the drug against high blood pressure. The effect of the substance on hair has not yet been fully studied, however, the FDA has approved it as a remedy for baldness, stipulating that it will not help everyone.

Finasteride was initially used against prostate adenoma. It was found that one milligram is enough for hair growth, but the remedy causes side effects: erectile dysfunction, libido disorder and ejaculation disorder. On the other hand, some experts claim that many people take finasteride without harm to their sexual activity.

No, approved by the FDA or the European Medicines Agency (European Medicines Agency, EMEA), no.

Scientists believe that in the future it will be possible to clone follicles and get an inexhaustible source of new hair. However, the results of research in this area are still quite modest.

There is no objective reason to believe that bald men are less attractive than those with lush hair. Many famous actors feel great without hair on their heads. However, the idea that the hair on the head seriously affects the quality of life has become firmly entrenched in the minds of people, and interested parties do not intend to dissuade anyone from this.