Balding DNA: The Causes, The Stigma, And Finding Your Own Approach
Hair loss can affect anyone, whether it be hereditary, a product of getting older, or a medical condition like alopecia – but there’s one type of hair loss that suffers a particularly negative societal stigma. Baldness – a.k.a., excessive hair loss from the scalp – is a condition that affects both men and women, and is typically the irreversible result of having the “bald gene.” There’s an unfortunate negative connotation towards balding for both genders, and bald or balding people tend to have wildly different approaches to their scalp for this reason. They also might wonder, “Is baldness genetic?” Whether you’ve opted for treatment plans to minimize hair loss or embraced your baldness entirely, you deserve to feel empowered in your decisions – and if you’re trying to figure out whether or not you carry the bald gene, you’ve come to the right place.
Is baldness genetic?
People who fear eventual hair loss might wonder to themselves, “Is baldness genetic?” – especially if they have relatives with exposed scalps or receding hairlines – and in many cases, it is. Genetics have a strong influence on hair loss regardless of gender, so if someone in your family carries the balding DNA, there’s a chance you’ll keep the tradition alive. However, the bald gene isn’t the only cause of hair loss, and there are quite a few other reasons a person’s scalp might begin to peek out more and more over time.
The main causes of baldness that aren’t genetic
Here are some of the most common causes of baldness and/or hair loss that have nothing to do with balding DNA:
- Changes in hormones
Changes in hormones might be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or thyroid issues, and hormonal changes can definitely play a role in hair loss or baldness – especially for cisgender women, who might be more likely to experience hormone fluctuations throughout their lifetime.
Stress can absolutely manifest physically, and with more intense episodes, the body can react even more severely. Excess stress can easily result in hair loss – but this type of hair loss is usually temporary and exclusive to the stressful event.
- Medical conditions or illnesses
Any medical condition and/or illness takes a toll on a person’s immune system, and when the body is busy fighting infection or viruses, hair loss might occur as a side effect, whether or not the person has balding DNA. Alopecia is a medical condition that is specifically known for causing hair loss: with alopecia, the immune system directly attacks a person’s hair follicles, rendering them susceptible to bouts of hair loss that can take place at any time and to any degree.
- Medications and/or supplements
Certain medications, supplements, or prescription drugs list hair loss or baldness as a possible side effect – especially those used to treat arthritis, cancer, depression, gout, heart problems, or high blood pressure.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is often utilized to ease the symptoms of cancer patients, kill cancer cells, and slow their growth. However, a common side effect of this treatment is hair loss, as radiation also affects healthy cells –and often the ones that cause hair to grow.
- Severe hairstyles or hair treatments
Severe hairstyles or treatments are also known for causing hair loss or baldness, so if you’re someone who regularly gets their hair done, you may want to think twice about what sort of treatment you’re seeking. Things like tight braids, constant ponytails, tight updos, frequent hair dyeing, or hot-oil hair treatments can definitely have a negative effect on your hair’s growth and development over time – and in severe cases, that hair loss can be permanent.
The main symptoms of baldness and/or hair loss
By now, you’ve realized it absolutely can be, and if you know or suspect that you carry the bald gene, there are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for that might confirm your suspicions.
- Thinning hair at the temples, on the top of the head, or across the entire scalp
Thinning hair can mean a few different things, like stress, pregnancy, or some change in hormones – but it can also be an early sign of balding. If you’re wondering, “Is baldness genetic?”, you may want to look at your family’s history, and whether or not thinning hair has been a factor for any of your relatives.
- A wider part
Have you noticed more of a gap between your hair part – a.k.a., an increase in scalp visibility at the dividing line? This can also be an early sign of balding or hair loss. This is more likely to be noticeable in people with longer hair, but it can also mean a variety of different things: like hormone changes, alopecia, or problems with the thyroid. For clarification, we recommend seeking professional medical advice.
- Receding hairline
A receding hairline can also be an early indicator of having balding DNA, and will look like the thinning or loss of hair at the front and top of the scalp or temples. This tends to be more common in cisgender men – and there are treatment plans available to help reverse the hair loss, if that’s something you’re interested in pursuing.
- Clumps of hair falling out, patchiness
The typical balding process is a largely gradual one, but in some cases, you may notice a dramatic change in your hair – like large clumps falling out at a time. But rather than being a simple sign of impending baldness, this could mean something more severe – like you’re suffering from an illness or health condition that is unrelated to regular hair loss. Again, we recommend seeking a medical professional for some clarification if you’re experiencing this symptom.
- Body hair loss
In some cases, a balding person will also experience hair loss or thinning on other parts of the body if they have the bald gene. This can also be due to alopecia or some other type of health condition, so you should tell a healthcare professional about this change in your body as soon as possible.
The baldness stigma
While some pockets of culture revere baldness – or, at the very least, have nothing negative to say about it – there’s an undeniable stigma that surrounds hair loss for both men and women. You might be worried about this stigma if you discover you have the bald gene. This stigma isn’t exactly news either: Julius Caesar was infamously ashamed of his baldness and went to great lengths to try and reverse it, and other cultures of his generation were known for looking into supposed cures for baldness (like the Vikings’ goose guano or Aristotle’s goat urine). The main source of shame surrounding hair loss is unknown, but historians and speculators alike believe it’s less about the hair loss itself and more what the hair loss often represents: a sign of aging. Just as people might be reluctant to let their gray hairs grow in, those with balding DNA may feel like they have to hide their increasingly exposed scalp. However you approach your baldness is entirely up to you – just know that you deserve to feel empowered in your decision, and valid no matter what avenue you end up taking in regards to your scalp.
Options for approaching baldness
Whether you decide to embrace your baldness and let it rock or call in some reinforcements to switch up your look, there are quite a few options to explore as a bald or balding person. Here are some of the most popular, tried-and-true methods for balding individuals:
- Embrace your hair loss
Of course, the most obvious (and low-maintenance) decision you can make is to bring the baldness on. Whether that means letting the hair loss run its gradual course or taking matters into your own hands with shaving cream and a razor, embracing your baldness is an approach that many people end up going with.
- Medicate your scalp
A popular route for those looking to curb their hair loss is to opt for medical treatment – both prescription and over-the-counter. Rogaine and Propecia are well-known, widely-tested options, but there are a few other medications available on the market (like Carospir, Aldactone, or Avodart). Just make sure to take a look at possible side effects before going down this route.
- Hair transplant surgery
Many people only experience hair loss at the top of their scalp, and with the rest of their hair intact and luscious as ever, they might opt for a hair transplant – a.k.a., moving hair from one area of the head to the affected bald spot. This type of procedure can be quite painful, and you run the risk of suffering from bleeding, bruising, swelling, or even infection. You might also need multiple surgeries to achieve your desired result – and if your baldness is hereditary, the hair loss will eventually win, despite your surgical efforts.
- Wigs or new hairstyles
If your hair loss is mild or only in one area of the scalp, you might benefit from parting your hair differently to cover up the bald spot. And if your hair loss is more severe, you can opt for a wig or some extensions to feel like a whole new you. If someone asks you, “Is baldness genetic?” you now know that it is, and what can be done to manage it if you so choose. Knowing whether or not you have the bald gene is empowering for many men and women. It puts them in control of the situation, and gives them the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their hair health.