It’s inevitable that when you reach a certain age, you start worrying about losing your hair. The thoughts start popping into our minds: am I at risk of balding? Am I balding right now? How can I tell?
By: Dr Michael Hughes
It’s a universal sensation of dread – although it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of advanced, modern technologies and procedures available to slow hair loss or to replace your hair.
Unfortunately, the chances of hair loss are quite high for both men and women as they get older, which is why it’s important to understand the signs and seek timely treatment.
Men are more commonly affected by hair loss from a much younger age, with half of all men over the age of 40[JH1] experiencing the most common type, androgenic alopecia. But women are also at considerable risk of hair loss, which impacts some three in every four women over the age of 65.
Our team of hair loss treatment specialists at Alvi Armani are often asked when the best time is to start worrying about hair loss. The simplest answer is sooner rather than later.
It’s a good idea to begin looking for signs of abnormal hair loss in your early twenties, particularly as one quarter of men who experience male pattern baldness begin losing hair before the age of 21. It also doesn’t hurt for women to get into the habit early on.
Beyond being cognisant of the more obvious signs, such as clear bald spots forming on your head or your hairline receding, there are a few at-home tests you can do now to check whether you’re at risk of balding.
Checking for shedding
The first way to tell if you’re losing more hair than you should is by checking your pillow and sheets after sleeping, your comb after brushing, and the drain after bathing.
Some loose hair is normal, as we naturally shed about 50 to 100 [JH2] hairs per day. But there is some reason for concern if you lose considerably more than this.
However, it is also usual to shed more hair in certain situations, such as after giving birth, losing significant weight, having suffered a high fever, or having stopped taking birth-control pills, amongst others.
The hair pull test
An effective, yet underdiscussed method of identifying possible hair loss is by simply pulling on it.
Also known as the ‘traction test’ or ‘Sabouraud’s sign’, the hair pull test involves clasping about 60[JH3] hairs between the thumb, index, and middle fingers near the scalp and firmly pulling upward. Repeat for multiple parts of you scalp.
If roughly 10% or more hairs come loose, consider consulting a hair loss treatment professional.
The wash test
The wash test requires avoiding shampooing your hair for about five days. Then, before shampooing again, place a clean, thin transparent fabric such as silk or linen in the sink, covering the drain hole. Next, shampoo and rinse your hair as usual, and collect the remaining hair from the fabric.
The hair then needs to be counted and divided into two groups according to size, one for hair less than 3cm long, and one for hair more than 3cm in length. This hair must then be sent to a dermatologist for further examination.
60-second hair count
This simple test can be conducted over months and provide a clear picture of the state of your hair.
Before washing, comb your hair for 60 seconds over material contrasting your hair colour, such as a pillow. Start from the back top of the head and move the brush or comb forward to the front of the head. Then count the loose hairs on the brush or comb and on the pillow.
Repeat this process before three consecutive washes, using the same brush or comb. This test can be done every month.
The good news is, even if you pick up an issue, there are many ways to replace the hair you have lost. But the most effective long-term solution is a hair transplant procedure.
For example, Alvi Armani’s proprietary Vitruvian technique, which is a variation of the follicular unit extraction method, is a minimally invasive procedure and leaves no signs of scarring. The result is a full head of hair which can continue to grow and correctly fill out for years to come.
If you’re at all worried about hair loss, look for signs of abnormal shedding, or contact a hair loss treatment expert for professional advice and treatment.