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Both males and females alike are bothered by hair loss. As the cliché goes, hair is our crowning glory. And when you see strands of hair left in your pillows or in the basin after shampooing, you may begin to worry about getting bald.

Human hair is made of cells just like the rest of the body. When new cells are formed at the roots, the hair is gradually pushed further and further out of the follicle, the tube-like pouch below the skin surface. The portion of the hair that protrudes from the follicle is known as the shaft. Each strand is attached to the base of the follicle by the hair root, where the hair grows and gets nourishment from tiny blood vessels. When they are pushed further away from the source of nourishment, they die and transform into a hard protein called keratin. Therefore, the hair we see above the skin is dead protein. It is the follicle, which lies deep in the skin, that is the essential growing part of the hair. So, the strands of hair we see in the basin after we shampoo are usually hairs that have been previously shed.

However, having balding areas are obviously a sign of hair loss. Generally, men lose their hair at the sides of the forehead. Most of the time, it occurs during middle age, though it can happen at any time after puberty. There are those who lose their hair at the top of their head. This is called common baldness or male pattern baldness, where only the sides and back of the head have hair, leaving a horseshoe shape. Hair growth is actually made up of several stages:

· During the growing stage, hair grows at least one centimeter in length every month, with the crop of hair lasting for at least two to five years.

· A resting stage follows, during which there is no hair growth. Also known as the telogen stage, this phase lasts about 5 months.

· Towards the end of the resting phase, the hair is shed and the follicle starts to grow a new one.

Ninety percent of the hair follicles in the scalp are in the growing stage at any given time, while only 10% are in the resting stage. If, for any reason, a hair follicle is destroyed, no new hair will ever grow from it.

Baldness results when hair follicles react to the changing level of male hormone production. In the case of men with male pattern baldness, they do not necessarily mean that they have more male hormones than other men. It is just that their hair follicles are more responsive to the hormones. This hormone is called testosterone. Although, both men and women have testosterone in the blood, men have more of it and the skin of the scalp converts these hormones to another substance called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which makes hair shrink. Hair follicles on the side and back of the head are not as sensitive to DHT as the ones on the top of the head. However, this same DHT is the one responsible for the growth of the beard and chest hair. This is why there are bald men who have hairy chests and beards.

Baldness is hereditary. So if any of your relatives are bald or have thinning hair, chances are, you may also develop the same problem. Age is also a factor for hair loss problems. Forty percent of men have noticeable baldness when they reach the age of 35 while, 65 percent of men would have already gone bald by the age of 60. Elderly men who have been lucky enough not to go bald would still have noticeably thinner hair compared to how they looked ten or twenty years before.

There’s really nothing wrong with going bald. Most women find bald men to be clean-cut, appealing and elegant, especially when they keep the remaining hair closely cropped and avoid the notorious “comb over” look. Men who are confident with their baldness project the image that they have their male hormone system functioning to the hilt. It’s what we call “going bald gracefully.”