Those who have it, love it. Those who don’t, miss it. And those who are in the process of losing it, well, they’ll do anything to keep it. We’re talking of course about hair. The easiest thing might be to blame your parents for that thinning crown you own, or the balding scalp. Yet not all causes of hair loss trace back to your gene pool. So for the sake of not being cut out of the will, cut your parents some slack.

Did you know that hair loss isn’t the same as going bald? To help sort fact from fiction we’ve collated a list of seven things you need to know about losing your hair.

1. How can I tell if I’m going to go bald?

This isn’t as silly a question as it sounds. Losing your hair isn’t the same as going bald. Male pattern baldness is a genetic condition whereas hair loss per se can be caused by a variety of factors.

If you are losing patches of hair in an apparently random manner you may have alopecia, a condition where a person (male or female) loses patches of hair from parts of their body. In extreme cases this may affect all of the hair on the body.

A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh), possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles — causing hair loss.

Stress and hair loss don’t have to be permanent. If you get your stress under control, your hair might grow back.

2. How quickly will I lose my hair?

Male hair loss starts at some point in the twenties. 66% of men have some hair loss before age 35, 25% of these men start losing their hair before age 21.

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However, some men go bald in less than five years. It is almost impossible to put a finger on how long the process will take.

3. Why am I losing my hair? Is it genetic?

If you have male pattern baldness, you are losing your hair because your body is becoming increasingly sensitive to a hormone called DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). The extent to which your scalp is affected by this process is hereditary. You can also lose your hair because of illness or surgical procedures, stressful circumstances, changes in hormone levels and scalp infections. But in many cases hair loss is not permanent.

4. Is baldness caused by emotional stress or sexual frustration?

Some hair loss is associated with stress although male pattern baldness is a genetic condition found in many men. If you find your hair is falling out in clumps or at unpredictable times, it is most likely to be the symptom of something else. This could be stress related but is unlikely to be caused by sexual frustration. The best thing to do is to see your GP for a check up.

5. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from falling out naturally?

Everyone loses hair naturally and it is normal for hair to thin somewhat when you get older. But the truth is that male pattern hair loss is a genetic condition that cannot be stopped entirely. There is a condition called Traction Alopecia, which is caused by constant pulling or tension of your hairs over a long period.

You don’t have to be dragged around the floor by your head to suffer from this either – if you often wear tight braids, particularly cornrows, or tight ponytails, you are more likely to get Traction Alopecia. So try not to pull your hair tight excessively. Some experts also recommend exercise as a good way to maintain a healthy head of hair.

6. How can I treat it?

Hair loss is a natural process. There are products that can help stop the thinning process and promotes hair growth. If you do want treatment, there are drugs that can help.

Finasteride Pills

This FDA approved daily tablet increases volume and health of hair in 3 to 6 months. It prevents testosterone from breaking down into DHT, a hormone that damages hair follicles.
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Minoxidil Drops

A topical solution applied once a day to promote hair growth by shedding old hairs and replacing them with new ones. It relaxes blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow to your scalp.
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Vitamin B7

Biotin is a natural supplement that has been proven to strengthen hair and nails and promote healthy skin.
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7. Will I suffer any psychological problems as a result of going/being bald?

Some men have a genuine fear of going bald and it can cause high stress levels, low self-esteem, reduced sex drive and even depression. But if you understand the causes and accept them you are much more likely to conquer these fears. Most men feel a momentary loss of confidence when they realise they are losing hair but this is often overcome quickly.

The only way to ensure you won’t suffer psychological problems is to face up to the realities of baldness and either accept it or seek treatment that works for you.