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Genetics of hair fall: Here’s everything you need to know about hereditary baldness

Updated on:31 August 2020, 17:56pm IST
Genetics do play a role in balding. Today we answer the pertinent question, whether or not you can slow it down.
Grace Bains
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Hereditary hair fall is more common than you think. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

This may come across as a surprise to you, but hereditary-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss.  Each one of us notices hair loss or hair thinning as we age. This typically begins in our 20s and 30s, although many women observe these changes after menopause.

According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, hair loss tendency may be inherited from both sides of the family. Not only can we inherit similar hair loss patterns from our parents, but also sensitivity to DHT or dihydrotestosterone—a male sex hormone that causes hair follicles to thin out and miniaturize over time that leads to baldness.

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This genetic disposition manifests as thinning of the hair and often progresses to complete hair loss on parts of the scalp. The most obvious signs are in the form of hairs on the pillow, in the tub or on the comb. In men, hair loss typically begins at the temples and crown and proceeds in an M-shaped pattern. In the most advanced stage, only a rim of hair along the side and back of the scalp remains. Luckily, in women, hair loss tends to be more widespread but better hidden.

hair loss causes
Hair loss is the biggest concern of them all. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

As per research published by National Library of Medicine, the AR gene is our go-to genetic clue as this strand of gene codes the androgen receptor protein. This particular protein helps hair follicle cells detect androgen hormones (like testosterone) circulating throughout the body. Testosterone and other androgens can affect when, where, and how much a person’s hair grows.

Here’s how you can slow the baldness
Hereditary hair loss is part of our genetic blueprint. So while we await advances in gene-editing technology to fight hair loss, we can start adopting a few tips to keep our hair healthy and strong, so that we can slow the balding process:

1. Eat more dietary protein
Hair is made up of protein and incorporating food items such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, and nuts will help give strength and texture to hair.

hair loss causes
Include more protein in your diet for luscious hair. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Be gentle with your hair
Avoid tight hairstyles, such as braids, buns or ponytails. Such hairdos tend to tug at the hair, pulling them off the root and even damangign strands.

3. Seek treatment
If you catch it early, then treating hereditary hair loss with medications can be a viable option to explore. Medical consultation should be obtained before starting treatments based on finasteride (blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone to fight hair loss) and Minoxidil (slows progressive balding in hereditary hair loss).

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So before we jump to any conclusions and start blaming our parents, remember that the science of genetic hair loss is complex and there are a lot of options at our disposal to regrow and maintain our hair.

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Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.