Hereditary baldness can affect men, women, and children. It is caused by a specifically identified gene and is referred to as male or female baldness, androgenetic baldness, and diffuse baldness. Some people choose to allow baldness to take its natural course, while others do whatever they can to hide its existence. There is no cure for hereditary baldness, but there are steps that can be taken to slow hair loss.
Over half of the world's Caucasian men and 30 percent of Caucasian women over the age of 40 experience some degree of hereditary baldness. The gene only has to be inherited from one parent for it to impact a person during his or her lifetime. Men who have hereditary baldness can begin losing hair in their teen years, while women typically begin to lose theirs in their 30s. The hairline and the front and top of the head are where men lose the most hair, while women typically lose it at the hairline or from the crown. Men can become completely bald, but most women with the gene only experience overall thinning without complete baldness.
While there is no cure for hereditary baldness, different hairstyles can disguise its progression. Scarves, hats, and specially designed make-up are other non-invasive methods used to hide advancing baldness. Medical interventions for hereditary baldness include surgery or topical solutions designed to encourage regrowth. Health insurance carriers do not usually cover medical intervention for baldness. There are also corticosteroid injections available in many regions of the world to target baldness.
The most common surgical intervention for baldness is a hair transplant. The surgery involves taking skin from the back of the head and grafting it to the bald areas. The hair on the skin typically grows out and fills in the thin or bald areas. A more natural look comes from a micrograft, in which a few hair follicles are transplanted at a time. This technique can involve as many as 1,000 follicle transplants.
Topical solutions including minoxidil have been approved for treating baldness. The solution is applied to the scalp two times a day for several months. Its chemical compounds stimulate hair growth. The product, available for men and women, has been reported to work 25 percent of the time for men who use it and 20 percent for women.