12 Feb Genetics: How much do they play a part?
Hair loss and baldness is most often attributed, by the general population, to men and you’d be forgiven for thinking this because one of the most common terms1 associated with it is ‘male pattern baldness’.
However, the reality is that baldness does not discriminate. Both men and women can be affected by it2 and it’s your genetics that play a significant role in both the cause and severity of your hair loss.
Genetics aren’t the only factors though when it comes to hair loss. Despite its negative stigma, ‘male pattern baldness’ in itself is still a recognised condition. What’s more, there are other environmental factors3 that may also have come into play if you’re losing your hair.
In this guide, we’ve taken a closer look at this subject to dispel some of the common misconceptions and answer some common questions people have about losing their hair, what some of the root causes are and what can be done to mitigate your hair loss.
Is hair loss genetic and hereditary?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions about hair loss and the simple answer is yes. However, the widespread theory that the hereditary baldness gene in men is solely passed down from the mother’s father isn’t completely accurate – it can in fact come from both parents. 4
There are numerous studies, such as this from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which show that if there’s baldness on both sides of your family, it can give around an 80% predisposition for hair loss.
That being said, this doesn’t reflect or determine the severity of your potential hair loss and what’s more, there are hundreds of different hereditary genes involved in your hair growth. So simply looking to your parents and your relatives won’t give a true reflection of how influential your genetics will be on your hair loss.
What is ‘male pattern baldness’?
Male pattern baldness (MPB) – also known as androgenetic alopecia – is the most common form of hair loss in men. According to MedlinePlus, it is estimated that upwards of 50% 5 of all men over 50 will have some form of MPB and 80% will experience MPB at some point in their lifetime. Again, this is considered more likely to happen to men who have a family history of hair loss.
It is called ‘male pattern baldness’ because of the characteristic patterns formed where the hair on your head is thinning. Often this starts with a receding hairline that typically forms an ‘M’ shape on your forehead, followed by your hair becoming thinner on your crown and eventually progressing to baldness.
This can also happen in women and is known as ‘female pattern baldness’ (FPB) – although the timescales and the typical pattern of the hair loss are different from men.
According to some studies, 6 nearly two thirds of women can suffer with FPB after the menopause and that the hair starts to generally get thinner, particularly around where your hair has a natural parting. However, the extent of the baldness is usually much lower than it is with men. 6
Why am I losing my hair?
In addition to some of the genetic reasons and factors like MPB, there are other extrinsic influences3 – including your lifestyle choices – that can cause hair loss. Here are some examples:
- Hairstyle3 – if you put additional stress on your hair by pulling it tight or using chemical products and hot blow-drying, it can cause hair loss through something called ‘traction alopecia’.7
- Hormones3 – women going through the menopause, or who are pregnant or have just given birth can experience temporary hair loss through hormonal changes.
- Infections3 – skin conditions and infections like ringworm can cause the hair in the affected areas to fall out.
- Stress3 – it is believed that periods of extended mental or physical stress can cause your hair to start thinning.
- Nutrition3 – a poor diet can affect the quality of your hair growth making it feel thinner.
It’s also worth pointing out that if you’re noticing some hair loss, it is normal to naturally lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day.
How the Fagron TrichoTest could help
While you can take better care of your hair and avoid some of the issues listed above, the Fagron TrichoTest is an option to also consider. It can help determine the likelihood of your hair loss and the type of treatment that would work best for you, improving the chances it could work for you.
This involves a simple, scientifically validated analysis process that can be taken by anyone. Here’s how it works:
- A hair loss consultant, Trichologist or advisor will take a swab from the inside of your mouth to obtain a sample of your DNA.
- You will also be asked to complete a questionnaire to determine a number of lifestyle factors that could have an influence on your hair loss.
- This information is analysed by trained technicians to identify specific characteristics of your metabolism, which contribute to your hair loss.
- You will receive a report explaining which elements from your genetic coding and lifestyle factors could be causing your hair loss and which treatments are most likely to work best for you.
You can find out more about how the Fagron TrichoTest works here in this FAQ.
If hair loss doesn’t run in my family, why do I need a test for genetics?
You might be asking yourself this question if you’re experiencing hair loss with no obvious familial baldness traits. Your parents or siblings might have full heads of hair, for example.
The simple answer is that our genetics can be so varied and complex that you might simply be unlucky. You might have an unfortunate gene combination from your parents that could be causing your hair to start thinning, whilst your older sibling may have a full head of hair.
This is again where analysis from the Fagron TrichoTest can help you determine how much of a contributing factor your genetics are to your hair loss and provide you with the best treatment options for your circumstances.