|"Hair today and gone tomorrow is a hard pill to swallow." . . . The Dorfman Archives
Whenever I hear of some poor soul going bald, the first image that comes to mind is the I Love Lucy episode in which Ricky Ricardo is convinced that he is losing his hair. Lucy concocts a solution to massage his scalp that smells so vile, looks so terrible and is so time consuming to apply that she is convinced it will turn him off to the idea. In true I Love Lucy fashion, the results are unexpected; Ricky feels the eggs, mayonnaise and salad oil topped with a silk stocking he must wear to bed every night has stimulated his hair growth, and that she should apply it to his head several times a day! Baldness is certainly no laughing matter, but sometimes a little levity can cut a path through a tangled, emotional and not so hairy wood.
Back in my college days, I had a part time receptionists job at The Wybrant Hair Systems. (I mention the name because I have no need to protect the non-innocent.) Clients would enter wearing dark glasses and sit quietly in the reception area until they heard their name called by a strange and hairy older woman with a rather fetching smile. They would all go behind a dark green door and come out some twenty minutes later looking exactly the same as when they ventured inside. Whatever Mr. Wybrants secret for growing hair was, he never shared it with his clients or the IRS who eventually closed his office down. Perhaps the agents got to the truth about his "financial deductions" by pulling out his hair rather than his fingernails. (One can only hope.)
Ninety-five percent of all hair loss is inherited, so go ahead and blame your parents. It is their fault (even though it wasnt their baldness in the first place either). Still, one wonders where the first bald person erupted from, before the condition was inherited, I mean. Hair follicles receive genetic coding during their formation in the womb. These hair-loss genes create thinning hair until eventually the follicles die and permanent baldness occurs. Every hair on ones head adheres to a genetically programmed schedule that includes growth, resting and shedding. Its like being in a strict summer camp with Reveille at 6:15AM (because 6:00 is just too damn early), breakfast at 7:00 and first activity at 8:30!
The medical term for inherited baldness is androgenetic alopecia. In men it is called male pattern baldness and usually progresses to the familiar horseshoe shaped fringe of hair. In women, hair loss usually takes the form of thinning over the entire crown of the head. Everyones hair loss is unique, but doctors have designated a scale called The Norwood Classification which represents graphically the different stages of baldness using the numbers from two to seven. They range from slightly receding hairline to generalized frontal thinning to balding crown. Not everyone progresses to the bottom of the class at stage seven. The hope is to slow down the loss or end it completely at any of the stages mentioned.
What can be done for those of us who are between stages two and seven and the devil and the deep bald sea? Fortunately, there is the promise of some hair at the end of the tunnel. Some "miracle" elixir that someone told someone gave someone else a new lease on a hairier life is usually the first thing attempted. Consider poor Ricky Ricardo. He was no better off with the Caesar salad and silk stocking on his head than if he had done nothing at all. More than 3.5 billion dollars are spent each year on tonics that claim to grow hair. I am afraid that all they grow are pipe dreams and hefty credit card bills, and that the cultivator is dear old Mr. Wybrant and others of his ilk.