It’s important to note that all people lose around 100-150 hairs per day regardless of race or location. So, finding hairs on your pillow, clothes, or towels doesn’t indicate ensuing baldness . Many males notice hair loss and assume it’s a balding death sentence, so they do nothing about it and suffer in silence. Others plunge into the reality of the situation and stop at nothing to do something about it. Since early detection greatly impacts the outcome, consulting a professional and addressing the problem assures more options.
Although half of men will experience some degree of balding in their lifetimes, the other half never does. Balding is sometimes permanent, but not always. There are many reasons for hair loss and each is unique (see also Chapter 3 – Androgynous Causes). Doctors can often detect and classify types of balding by examining the scalp. Let’s take a closer look at how this is done.
The most common type of hair loss in men is called “male pattern baldness” also known as genetic balding because it is a hereditary disease. Diagnostic methods have been robustly studied, and a classic clinical description process has evolved. Loss of this kind always appears in distinct patterns and is usually permanent (see Hamilton/Norwood Scale below).
Sometimes, usually in older patients, a diffuse (overall) thinning occurs called senile alopecia. This does not indicate a mental status but rather that it appears in the elderly.
There are three phases of the growth cycle of hair—anagen or growth stage; catogen or shedding stage where hair naturally falls out; and telogen or sleep stage (see Chapter 2 – Hair follicle Anatomy for more details). In some males the growth phase, anagen, ceases, and lost hairs are not replaced.
Experts believe the lifetime of a hair follicle is primarily genetically determined. The doctor looks at the family history when diagnosing pattern baldness—not just at the grandparents of the patient, but also several generations before. Scientists have discovered that inherited baldness does not only come from the father’s side of the family, contrary to popular belief. Baldness genes are dominant, so either one of the parents may pass the trait along to offspring. So, only looking at the previous generation does not mean hair loss will manifest genetically. Also, some men carry the genes but never develop baldness.