My three-year-old son loves it when I carry him on my shoulders. Sadly, I’m rather going off the idea – because a couple of weeks ago, George made a discovery while he was up there. ‘Daddy,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a bald patch.’
How did he even know what such a thing is? I blame his mother. What, I asked him, does ‘bald’ mean? ‘It’s when your hair has all fallen out on the ground,’ said George. Thanks very much for reminding me.
He’s right. I’m the only one of my parents’ children to be losing their hair, which is gradually disappearing from my crown, disfiguring happy family photos and making me feel old. Pah! I hate baldness!
Bald spread: Experts say half of men have lost a significant amount of hair by the time they are 50
The experts say that 50 per cent of men have lost a significant amount of hair by the age of 50. I just wish I was in the other 50 per cent.
Then again, it occurs to me that if baldness cannot be successfully staved off by the likes of Elton John (millionaire, very vain) or the Prince of Wales (lives in a palace, eats organic food, also probably rather vain), what chance is there of ordinary folk finding an anti-baldness cure that works?
In fact, there are all sorts of products out there – from pills and lotions to a laserpowered comb – that will slow down hair loss, even reverse it. Or so they say.
I decided to consult an expert. Dr Andrew Messenger is a consultant dermatologist at the Royal Hallamshire hospital, Sheffield, and specialises in male hair loss.
Dr Messenger says no one knows the precise cause, but three things need to coincide: the wrong genes; the presence of DHT, a highly concentrated form of the male sex hormone testosterone; and age.
As for the value of hair-loss products, he says: ‘There’s no doubt that people who are losing their hair are vulnerable to companies looking to make a quick buck. Men worry about losing their hair; they feel less physically attractive. It strikes very deep within us as human beings.
‘Even the ancient Egyptians used potions to treat balding. I guess going bald reminds us that we are getting older.
‘I see patients who have spent thousands of pounds on remedies for which there is no evidence at all.
‘If there were a product that you had to take once and it stopped you going bald, probably all men would use it, provided it were safe and had no side-effects. But we’re nowhere near that.’
‘The very best products will achieve an improvement of around 10 to 15 per cent in hair density. But what many men don’t realise is that you have to keep on using them for ever to maintain this improvement, otherwise you’ll simply go back to where you were before you started.
‘You’d do best to begin using them before you go very bald,’ says Dr Messenger. ‘You really need to start as soon as you notice any proper hair loss, if it’s that much of a problem for you.’
So, which cures will help you achieve that 15 per cent, and which should you leave alone?
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