January 17, 2015

23 Startling Hair Loss Statistics That Will Astound You

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Unless you're one of the lucky few, odds are you will experience some thinning or baldness at some point. Here are 23 statistics about this phenomenon that could make your hair stand on end.

© Sascha Kohlmann (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

1. Not every man will suffer from male pattern baldness

Hair loss is one of those unfortunate facts of life that a significant number of men will have to contend with during their lifetime. According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of men will begin to see their locks lose some of their luster by age 35. Once the big 5-0 rolls around, about 85 percent of men will have experienced a significant amount of thinning.

2. It doesn't just target the older crowd

While male pattern baldness most often affects older men, its onset can actually begin much earlier. The American Hair Loss Association estimates that about 25 percent of men who are affected by the condition begin to see the first signs of hair loss before age 21.

3. Women aren't immune

Even though hair loss is typically thought of as something that only men are burdened with, plenty of women experience their fair share of follicular challenges. In fact, an estimated 40 percent of hair loss sufferers are female. By the time they reach age 50, roughly half of all women will be dealing with some degree of pattern hair loss.

4. And neither are children

Approximately 3 percent of all pediatric doctor visits made each year are connected to hair loss-related issues in children, including thinning and bald spots. The causes can range from things as simple as wearing hair in a ponytail too tightly to fungal infections of the scalp to alopecia, which in some cases can result in a total loss of all body hair.

5. You can blame your mom if you go bald

Heredity plays a big part in determining if and when you'll lose your hair. Both your mother’s and father's genes have a say in whether hair loss is a possibility, but surprisingly, it's the DNA you inherit from your mom that has the strongest influence. It's estimated that approximately 30 million women and as many as 50 million men experience hair loss as a direct result of their genetic make-up.

6. Scientists have even discovered a baldness gene

In an effort to try and pinpoint a more definitive link between genetics and male pattern baldness, researchers from GlaxoSmithKline conducted an in-depth study of 1,125 men to test for hair loss susceptibility. The results showed that 1 in 7 men are more likely to lose their hair based on the presence of a specific gene.

7. Some people pull their hair out on purpose

Stress and anxiety can cause your hair to fall out, but in some cases, it can actually lead you to literally pull your hair out. This is a psychiatric disorder called trichotillomania. This condition, which tends to surface in individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, gives sufferers the urge to pull hair to relieve tension. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 4 percent of the population is affected by trichotillomania, with women developing it at nearly double the rate of men.

Related: Stress Statistics

8. Hair loss can signal other health problems

As if losing your hair isn't bad enough, you may have to deal with the possibility that it's related to another, more serious health issue. Researchers have linked hair loss to prostate conditions in men, as well as coronary problems. In one study, for example, baldness was linked to a 70 percent higher risk of developing heart disease.

9. You probably have more hair than you think

On average, the human scalp has anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles. According to WebMD, it's typical to lose roughly 100 hairs each day. As you get older, your hair begins to grow at a slower rate. Even if you're losing an average amount, it takes longer for new hairs to appear, which can contribute to the appearance of thinning or bald spots.

10. But it doesn't all grow at the same time

If you've ever tried to grow your hair out after getting a bad cut, you know how frustrating it is to wait. Part of the problem is that now all of your hair is actively growing all at once. According to the University of Utah, 10 percent of your strands are in a resting stage at any given moment. After about two to three months, the dead hair is shed.

11. Ethnicity influences the rate of growth

On average, human hair grows about 6 inches per year, but some lucky folks can go from a pixie cut to shoulder-length tresses in seemingly no time at all. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that among women, those of Asian descent saw their hair grow the fastest while women with African heritage experienced the slowest growth.

12. It's not just your physical status

Hair loss is not just a cosmetic issue. It can also wreak havoc on your psychological and emotional well-being. A 2012 study published by the National Institutes of Health found that among 157 women who were surveyed, 54 percent reported some hair loss and 29 percent claimed to have at least two symptoms of depression.

13. More people are turning to surgery to correct hair loss

While there are medications designed to treat hair loss, many people are opting for a more permanent solution to the problem. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, nearly 90,000 hair transplant operations were performed in 2012. And more than 310,000 hair restoration procedures took place worldwide.

14. And most of them are men

In addition to looking at the total number of people who underwent transplant surgery, the ISHRS also compared how many men versus women opted for the treatment. Altogether, just over 86 percent of patients were male, although the number of women seeking surgical remedies jumped by 20 percent between 2004 and 2012.

15. Younger people are more likely to sign on for surgery

Another key finding from the ISHRS's 2013 Practice Census centers on the age of patients who underwent hair restoration surgery. If you're thinking that seniors would be the first in line, it may astonish you to learn that it's actually people in the 30-year-old to 49-year-old range who are braving the surgery most often. Nearly 60 percent of males and 56 percent of females who received surgical treatment in 2012 were in this age group.

16. Hair restoration treatment isn't just for your head

Although the vast majority of hair transplant procedures are related to thinning or baldness of the scalp, that's not the only problem area people are dealing with. In Asia, for example, nearly 6,000 people had surgery in connection with eyebrow and eyelash loss in 2012. Europe reported the highest number of people undergoing chest hair restoration, with 112 cases.

17. The market for hair loss treatments is growing steadily

Hair restoration services don't come cheap. According to the ISHRS, the market for these treatments was valued at about $1.9 billion in the U.S. alone for 2012. That represents a nearly 48 percent increase over the $1.3 billion it was worth in 2008. As for how much it would cost you: WebMD estimates that on average, hair transplants can cost between $4,000 and $15,000.

18. Demand is highest in Asia

The ISHRS puts the number of surgical and nonsurgical patients seeking help for hair loss issues at more than 971,000 as of 2012. While over 250,000 of them live in the U.S., Asia takes the largest share of the market with close to 400,000 people going through the hair restoration treatment process.

19. But if you get one, there's a good chance no one will notice

The ISHRS routinely conducts polls that attempt to measure the average person's view on hair loss and hair restoration. In the 2010 Hair Transplant Challenge Survey, respondents were asked to identify someone with a hair transplant from a series of photographs. Roughly 65 percent couldn't identify the male recipient while a whopping 85 percent couldn't tell which of the female subjects had undergone transplant surgery.

20. You could always get a really big tattoo instead

Rather than go into surgery, some men are going for the closely shaved head look with a procedure called micropigmentation. For as much as $1,6000 to $5,000, tattoo artists can basically color in your scalp, giving those who brave the needle the chance to take control of their impending baldness.

21. Good hair matters more than money to some

In the transplant challenge survey, 43.2 percent said that they'd take thicker, fuller hair over a fatter wallet any day. Another 73 percent said they'd trade a treasured personal possession if it meant having more hair.

22. There's an entire month dedicated to hair loss awareness

In an effort to dispel certain myths about hair loss and increase public knowledge about the causes and treatments for people who have experienced thinning hair, the American Academy of Dermatology has designated August as National Hair Loss Awareness Month.

23. Cloning may be the next step in treatment

Stem cell research has become something of a hot-button issue, but it's becoming a more widely accepted practice in the medical field. While stem cell therapies have been used in the development of certain cancer and heart disease treatments, hair restoration could be the next frontier. A recent survey of ISHRS members found that 53 percent support the idea of using cloning and stem cell-related treatments to counteract hair loss in the future.

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