Alopecia is the abnormal loss of hair, commonly referred to as baldness. It can affect any area of the skin, but especially the scalp. There are different forms of alopecia, although the most frequent, responsible for more than 90% of cases, is androgenic or male pattern baldness. This trait is strongly conditioned by male sex hormones: androgens.
Male baldness affects a large part of the population. Studies indicate that 50% of men at the age of 50 experience some degree of baldness, a percentage that increases to 80% at the age of 70. It is therefore a major social problem that affects, above all, the self-esteem of those who suffer from it.
Male baldness has always been surrounded by claims that have been disproved over time, but remain in popular culture. Let’s take a look at some of them.
If I have gray hair, I won’t go bald
“Who grays, does not go bald“, goes the popular saying. This is one of the oldest and most widespread myths. Gray hair is simply hair that has lost its pigmentation due to a decrease in melanin production, caused by the depletion of melanocyte stem cells, mainly associated with aging. However, this does not affect the hair growth cycle and, for the moment, studies have found no relationship between baldness and the presence of gray hair.
Baldness is inherited directly from our mother
It is very likely that you have heard that if your maternal grandfather is bald, you will be bald too. This belief is very present in society, but it is unrealistic. Studies so far have shown that baldness is strongly influenced by genetics, but has a very complex inheritance pattern. It is true that the most important genes are on the X chromosome, which men inherit directly from their mothers, but there are hundreds of genes involved spread throughout the genome that we inherit from both parents. Therefore, our mother’s inheritance, and our father’s, conditions our predisposition to baldness.
Can hereditary baldness be avoided?
Androgenic alopecia is not “curable” but it is preventable. There are currently two pharmacological treatments that have proven to be effective in slowing down hair loss: topical minoxidil and oral finasteride. In addition, the injection of platelet-rich plasma has also proven to be effective. When alopecia is already a fact, the solution is a hair transplant, a procedure in which hair is extracted from unaffected areas and transferred to bald areas.
Knowing our genetic predisposition to suffer from male baldness can help us to take preventive actions that minimize, as much as possible, its impact. For this purpose, genetic tests such as tellmeGen, which provide information on this risk, can be very useful.