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How to Deal with Going Bald - for Men
While it is mostly women who complain about putting on a few pounds around the waist or breaking out on the morning of a special day, vanity is not a gender thing. One of the biggest fears of men is that they would lose their hair to a condition known as male pattern baldness. If you are one of these guys who stare at the mirror every morning and get a sinking feeling, here are a few tips on how to deal with going bald.
Decide how important it is to you
Like women, again men vary in their attitude towards a receding hairline. Some simply shrug and say, Hair today, gone tomorrow while others may be deeply troubled by a negative body-image. So at the outset, you need to decide how important is keeping your hair to you. If you do not wish to spend enormous amounts of time and money, you could learn to accept changes in your appearance and focus on more positive aspects. On the other hand, if you are in the show business or if poor self-image is affecting your career and relationships, you could go for treatments – even in the case of the latter, there are numerous options to choose from, depending on your resources. No matter what you decide to about your baldness, know that you are not alone. According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), by 35 years of age, approximately two-thirds of American men will experience some form of appreciable hair loss1.
Know what is going on
One of the best ways to cope with hair loss is to educate yourself about the condition so that you know what is normal and what is not – what is to be expected in the days to come and what is quite unlikely to happen, no matter what advertisers of commercial hair treatments promise you. Though there are many variations to male pattern hair loss, typically it starts with a receding hairline around the temples. Next, the hairline in the middle begins to recede. A bald patch then appears at the top of your head. The hairline will continue to recede as the bald spot at the top of your head grows, until these empty patches connect, and you no longer have hair atop your head. A scientific way to measure the degree of baldness is to use the Norwood scale in which Hair loss physicians examine scalps with densitometers to assess the degree of hair loss. being informed about all this would not only help you to take a considered decision about your hair loss but make you less vulnerable to unscrupulous people seeking to take advantage of your state.
What you can do medically
If you are planning on medical treatment for your increasing baldness, early intervention offers the best chances of success. Go directly to a medical professional for a proper diagnosis rather than an advertised clinic that might be pushing a product that has not been endorsed by the medical community. The usual course of treatment for male pattern baldness depends on oral medication like finasteride and topical application of minoxidil. Finasteride which is sold under brand name, Propecia, works by hindering the enzyme (Type II 5-alpha-reductase) that transforms testosterone into androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is responsible for thinning hair follicles. In 1997, the FDA approved a one milligram dose of finasteride to treat male pattern baldness. Minoxidil on the other hand, does not affect the hormonal process, so its results typically remain as long as the drug is in use. It is marketed under various brand names, including Rogaine and Loniten.
However never start using these drugs on your own since each case of male pattern baldness can be different from the other. It is only a qualified medical professional who can prescribe the correct course of treatment for you, based upon your individual condition
Medical treatment of male pattern baldness can take anything from six months to a year for results to be visible. If however or wish for quicker remedy, you can consider opting for a hair piece or going for hair plugs. Hair transplantation is surgery that involves removing a narrow strip of hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head and using it to fill an area with thin or no hair. While this treatment offers good results, it can be a drawn-out affair - Depending on the extent of the procedure, the transplant can take around four to eight hours and it may be five days before you can go out again. Apart from risks associated with any surgery, hair transplant is usually costly and rarely covered by insurance.
Take care of underlying problems
Whether or not you are being medically treated for male pattern baldness, it makes sense to take care of your hair which can at least slow down the progression of your hair loss. For instance if your scalp is suffering from psoriasis or dandruff, chances are this is a large part of your hair loss problem. So wash your hair and scalp daily with anti-dandruff shampoo recommended by your doctor. It is better not to self-medicate since the main active ingredient in many anti-dandruff shampoos is pyrithione zinc which can actually cause your hair to thin even more. Also use hair styling products and treatments with caution – abrasive chemicals and direct heat can damage hair and worsen an already balding condition. Above all, follow a balanced diet and take a nutrient supplement. Deficiency of certain nutrients like proteins, iron and Vitamin B3 can contribute directly to or worse already existing hair loss. Although protein deficiency causes hair loss, it's relatively rare in the United States. Also it may be better to steer clear of steroids as they can increase the body's supply of testosterone and other androgens which could make you go bald very quickly. However it is best to be guided by a medical professional on any changes in medication and diet which may help you to care for your hair better. And even if these lifestyle changes do not reverse balding on their own, it will definitely lead to better overall health for you.
Embrace your situation
In the end, if costly and time consuming hair loss treatments do not appeal to you, the best way to cope is to embrace your baldness. Men most dread being bald because they think they will no longer be attractive to potential sexual partners or even lose out professionally because of diminishing looks. Freudians have even argued that a man's hair symbolized his penis, so losing one's hair amounted to symbolic castration. Despite the extremity of this stance, there is nothing in popular media to ease the balding man’s concerns with a healthy head of hair constantly standing for power, virility and success.
Finally the really effective thing is to make an effort and get over the shame you feels about losing your hair. Some degree of shame or anger is normal and natural – after all it is not your fault that you were born with genes pre-disposed to balding - but you need to find ways to recognize it, to live with it, and to be proud of the whole person you are, instead of letting one physical trait make you feel inadequate. Most importantly, avoid disguise or hide thinning hair – that is especially a huge turn-off, for women who find it more attractive when a man – balding or not – has more confidence in himself and how he looks. According to psychologists, if a man acts as though being bald doesn't matter to him, then it is extremely unlikely to matter to others. If you need still more convincing about the merits of embracing the situation, consider these words of Logan Pearsall Smith, American essayist and aphorist, “There is more felicity on the far side of baldness than young men can possibly imagine."