Genetics are the key factor to premature hair loss in men and women

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Role of genetics in premature hair loss

The scientific name for the genetic tendency of hair loss or pattern baldness is Androgenetic Alopecia, the major cause of premature hair loss in 95% of men and women In the modern world, premature hair loss is not uncommon to be noticed. Apart from genetic predisposition; there are several other hair loss causes like the side effects of medicines, radiation, pregnancy, age, or even improper hair care. You need to investigate carefully and find out the reasons for hair loss for yourself.

Premature hair loss

Among other important reasons of hair loss, genetics or hereditary issue play an important role. In fact genetics is the prime reason for premature hair loss. This genetic or pattern baldness is known by a standard name as “male pattern baldness” but pattern baldness is also the most common form of hair loss in women. The pattern baldness in both the genders is referred to as Androgenetic Alopecia, a scientific name for the disease.

In pattern baldness in both men and women, there is an increased hair loss, as more and more hair thins and enters a telogen (resting) phase instead of remaining in the anagen (growing) phase. Eventually the degree of hair loss becomes so severe that it starts manifesting itself in the form of baldness.

Physiology of androgenetic hair loss

The main key factor of Androgenetic hair loss is 5 alpha reductase enzymes. These enzymes are of two types, 5 alpha reductase type I is located in the sebaceous glands, epidermal and follicular keratinocytes, dermal papilla cells, and sweat glands. The 5 a reductase type II isoenzyme is situated mainly on the root sheaths of the scalp.

Both of the type I and type II isoenzymes convert testosterone the male hormone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the most important androgen that promotes androgenetic hair loss or pattern balding. The DHT attacks the genetically sensitive frontal hair follicles instead of the occipital hair follicles that are seen at the back of the scalp. It damages the normal thickness and eventually leads to shedding.

Androgen-sensitiviy of hair follicles

It is due to genetic reasons that the hair follicles in a particular portion of the scalp are androgen-sensitive. It is after puberty, when the production of male hormones starts that the genetically sensitive hair follicles start reacting to the male hormones consequently leading to pattern balding. Due to the action of DHT (formed as a result of circulating androgens), the hair is miniaturized and becomes more susceptible to shedding.

Though the DHT is the main cause of hair loss in men and women, the mechanism for causes of hair loss in men and women of pattern balding is different.

Inheritance Pattern of Androgenetic Alopecia

The exact inheritance pattern in genetic hair loss is still debated. But it is mostly considered to be autosomal dominant and polygenic which can be inherited from either parent. Studies have shown that polymorphism has an important role to play for the expression of the pattern balding; in part it appears to be associated with a functional variant of the androgen receptor gene.

However, current studies suggests the involvement of at least four genes modifies the age of onset, pattern of loss and rate of progression of androgenetic alopecia. So there are more genes involved other than the androgen receptor gene.

In the end it can be concluded that those with a strong genetic predisposition to the disease get bald in their teens and those with weak disposition don’t get bald till a later age. (Read age related hair loss).

Since the disease is genetic there is not much which can be done about it, there are some of the important medications available that can prevent the DHT hair loss to some degree. These treatments control the formation of DHT levels, leading to the growth of thicker hair follicles.

Then there is hair transplant surgery which is the final remedy for pattern hair loss. If you are suffering from premature hair loss, try to have a consultation with the hair restoration surgeon to see if you are candidate for surgery!

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