AskDefine | Define bald

Dictionary Definition

bald adj
1 with no effort to conceal; "a barefaced lie" [syn: barefaced]
2 without the natural or usual covering; "a bald spot on the lawn"; "bare hills" [syn: bare, denuded, denudate]
3 lacking hair on all or most of the scalp; "a bald pate"; "a bald-headed gentleman" [syn: bald-headed, bald-pated] v : grow bald; lose hair on one's head; "He is balding already"

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

Homophones

Adjective

en-adj er
  1. Having no hair.
  2. Of tyres: whose surface is worn away.
having no hair
(of tyre) whose surface is worn away

German

Pronunciation

Adverb

bald

Old English

Etymology

Common Germanic *balthaz, whence also Old High German bald, Old Norse ballr

Adjective

bald

Old High German

Etymology

Common Germanic *balthaz, whence also Old English bald, Old Norse ballr

Adjective

bald

Extensive Definition

Baldness involves the state of lacking hair where it often grows, especially on the head. The most common form of baldness is a progressive hair thinning condition called androgenic alopecia or 'male pattern baldness' that occurs in adult male humans and other species. The amount and patterns of baldness can vary greatly; it ranges from male and female pattern alopecia (androgenic alopecia, also called androgenetic alopecia or alopecia androgenetica), alopecia areata, which involves the loss of some of the hair from the head, and alopecia totalis, which involves the loss of all head hair, to the most extreme form, alopecia universalis, which involves the loss of all hair from the head and the body.

Background, cause and incidence

The average human head has about 100,000 hair follicles. Each follicle will grow an average of about 20 individual hairs in a person's lifetime. Average hair loss is about 100 strands a day.
Incidence of pattern baldness varies from population to population based on genetic background. Environmental factors do not seem to affect this type of baldness greatly. One large scale study in Maryborough, in central Victoria (Australia) showed the prevalence of mid-frontal hair loss increases with age and affects 57% of women and 73.5% of men aged 80 and over. In the United States the figure is around 23% of men and 10% of women.
Male pattern is characterized by hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead, known as "receding hairline". Receding hairlines are usually seen in males above the ages of 25.
An additional bald patch may develop on top (vertex). The trigger for this type of baldness (called androgenetic alopecia) is DHT, a powerful sex hormone, body, and facial hair growth promoter that can adversely affect the hair on the head as well as the prostate.
The mechanism by which DHT accomplishes this is not yet understood. In genetically-prone scalps, DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturization. Through the process of follicular miniaturization, hair shaft width is progressively decreased until scalp hair resembles fragile vellus hair or "peach fuzz" or else becomes non-existent. Onset of hair loss sometimes begins as early as end of puberty, and is mostly genetically determined. Male pattern baldness is classified on the Hamilton-Norwood scale I-VII.
It was previously believed that baldness was inherited. While there is some basis for this belief, both parents contribute to their offspring's likelihood of hair loss. Most likely, inheritance is technically "autosomal dominant with mixed penetrance" (see 'baldness folklore' below)
There are several other kinds of baldness:
  • Traction alopecia is most commonly found in people with ponytails or cornrows who pull on their hair with excessive force.
  • Trichotillomania is the loss of hair caused by compulsive pulling and bending of the hairs. It tends to occur more in children than in adults. In this condition the hairs are not absent from the scalp but are broken. Where they break near the scalp they cause typical, short, "exclamation mark" hairs.
  • Traumas such as chemotherapy, childbirth, major surgery, poisoning, and severe stress may cause a hair loss condition known as telogen effluvium.
  • Worrisome hair loss often follows childbirth without causing actual baldness. In this situation, the hair is actually thicker during pregnancy due to increased circulating oestrogens. After the baby is born, the oestrogen levels fall back to normal pre-pregnancy levels and the additional hair foliage drops out. A similar situation occurs in women taking the fertility-stimulating drug clomiphene.
  • Iron deficiency is a common cause of thinning of the hair, though frank baldness is not usually seen.
  • Radiation to the scalp, as happens when radiotherapy is applied to the head for the treatment of certain cancers there, can cause baldness of the irradiated areas.
  • Some mycotic infections can cause massive hair loss.
  • Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder also known as "spot baldness" that can result in hair loss ranging from just one location (Alopecia areata monolocularis) to every hair on the entire body (Alopecia areata universalis).
  • Localized or diffuse hair loss may also occur in cicatricial alopecia (lupus erythematosus, lichen plano pilaris, folliculitis decalvans, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, postmenopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, etc.). Tumours and skin outgrowths also induce localized baldness (sebaceous nevus, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
  • Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss, typically frontal, and is particularly associated with thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows (syphilis also can cause loss of the outer third of the eyebrows)
  • Hyperthyroidism can also cause hair loss, which is parietal rather than frontal.
  • Temporary loss of hair can occur in areas where sebaceous cysts are present for considerable duration; normally one to several weeks in length.

Evolutionary theories of male pattern baldness

There is no consensus regarding the details of the evolution of male pattern baldness. A number of other primate species also experience hair loss following puberty, and some primate species clearly use an enlarged forehead, created both anatomically and through strategies such as frontal balding, to convey increased status and maturity. The assertion that MPB is intended to convey a social message is supported by the fact that the distribution of androgen receptors in the scalp differs between men and women, and older women or women with high androgen levels often exhibit diffuse thinning of hair as opposed to male pattern baldness.
One theory, advanced by Muscarella and Cunningham, suggests baldness evolved in males through sexual selection as an enhanced signal of aging and social maturity, whereby aggression and risk-taking decrease and nurturing behaviours increase. This may have conveyed a male with enhanced social status but reduced physical threat, which could enhance ability to secure reproductive partners and raise offspring to adulthood.
In a study by Muscarella and Cunnhingham

Approaches to baldness

♠♠Psychological effects♠♠

The psychological effects for individuals experiencing hair loss vary widely. Some people adapt to the change comfortably, while others have severe problems relating to anxiety, depression, social phobia, and in some cases, identity change.
Alopecia induced by cancer chemotherapy has been reported to cause changes in self-concept and body image. Body image does not return to the previous state after regrowth of hair for a majority of patients. In such cases, patients have difficulties expressing their feelings (alexithymia) and may be more prone to avoiding family conflicts. Family therapy can help families to cope with these psychological problems if they arise.
Psychological problems due to baldness, if present, are typically most severe at the onset of symptoms.
Some balding men may feel proud of their baldness, feeling a kindred relationship with famous charismatic bald men, much of whose perceived masculinity and handsomeness derives from their most obvious distinguishing feature. Baldness has, in recent years, in any case become less of a (supposed) liability due to an increasing fashionable prevalence of very short, or even completely shaven, hair among men, at least in western countries.
Many companies have built a successful business selling products that reverse baldness, by allegedly regrowing hair, transplanting hair or selling hairpieces. There is very little evidence that any of those which claim hair regrowth actually work.

Preventing and reversing hair loss

splitsection Baldness treatments
Treatments for the various forms alopecia have limited success. Some hair loss sufferers make use of so-called "clinically proven treatments" such as finasteride and topically applied minoxidil (in solution) in an attempt to prevent further loss and regrow hair. As a general rule, it is easier to maintain remaining hair than it is to regrow; however, the treatments mentioned will help some of the users suffering from Androgenetic alopecia, and there are new technologies in cosmetic transplant surgery and hair replacement systems that can be completely undetectable. The effectiveness of finasteride and minoxidil is not universally accepted.
In the USA, there are only two drug-based treatments that have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and one product that has been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, otherwise known as male or female pattern hair loss. The two FDA approved treatments are finasteride (marketed for hair loss as Propecia) and minoxidil.
Finasteride
Minoxidil
Low-level laser therapy
Surgery
Hair multiplication
Ketoconazole
Unsaturated fatty acids
However, there is at least one study that indicates a decline in free testosterone combined with an increase in strength due to an (unspecified) strength training regime.
Stress reduction
Stress reduction can be helpful in slowing hair loss. (see Baldness Folklore)
Immunosuppressants
Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto extract has been demonstrated to inhibit both isoforms of alpha-5-reductase and does not interfere with the cellular capacity to secrete PSA
Polygonum multiflorum
Polygonum multiflorum is a traditional Chinese cure for hair loss. P. multiflorum contains stilbene glycosides similar to resveratrol. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-4522.2006.00039.x
Beta sitosterol
Beta sitosterol, which is a constituent in many seed oils, can help to treat BHP by lowering cholesterol. If used for this purpose, an extract is best. Consuming large amounts of oil to get at small quantities of beta sitosterol is likely to exacerbate male pattern baldness.
Anti-androgens
While drastic, broad spectrum anti-androgens such as flutamide are sometimes used topically. Flutamide is potent enough to have a feminizing effect in men, including growth of the breasts.
Hedgehog agonists
WNT gene related
Coffee Beans

Concealing hair loss

Head

One method of hiding hair loss is the "comb over", which involves restyling the remaining hair to cover the balding area. It is usually a temporary solution, useful only while the area of hair loss is small. As the hair loss increases, a comb over becomes less effective. When this reaches a stage of extreme effort with little effect — it can make the person the object of teasing or scorn.
Another method is to wear a hat or a hairpiece — a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. In the United States, the best wigs — those that look like real hair — cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations also collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment in addition to any type of hair loss.

Eyebrows

Though not as common as the loss of hair on the head, chemotherapy, hormone imbalance, forms of alopecia, and other factors can also cause loss of hair in the eyebrows. Artificial eyebrows are available to replace missing eyebrows or to cover patchy eyebrows. Micro tattooing is also available.

Embracing baldness

see also Head shaving Instead of concealing hair loss, one may embrace it. A shaved head will grow stubble in the same manner and at the same rate as a shaved face. The general public has become accepting of the shaved head as well, but female baldness is less socially accepted.

Baldness folklore

There are many myths regarding the possible causes of baldness and its relationship with one's virility, intelligence, ethnicity, job, social class, wealth etc. While skepticism is warranted due to lack of scientific validation, some of these myths may have a degree of underlying truth.
  • "You inherit baldness from your mother's father."
    Previously, early baldness of the androgenic type was thought to be sex linked dominant in males and to be sex linked recessive in females.
    Research suggests that the gene for the androgen receptor, which is significant in determining probability for hair loss, is located on the X chromosome and so is always inherited from the mother's side.There is a 50% chance that a person shares the same X chromosome as their maternal grandfather. Because women have two X chromosomes, they will have two copies of the androgen receptor gene while men only have one. However, research has also shown that a person with a balding father also has a significantly greater chance of experiencing hair loss.
  • "Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness."
    This notion may be because cholesterol is involved in the process of neurogenesis and also the base material from which the body ultimately manufactures DHT. While the notion that bald men are more intelligent may lack credibility in the modern world, in the ancient world if a person was bald it was likely that he had an adequate amount of fat in his diet. Thus, his mental development was probably not stunted by malnutrition during his crucial formative years, he was more likely to be wealthy, and also have had access to a formal education. However, a sedentary lifestyle is less likely to correlate with intelligence in the modern world, and dietary fat content is not linked to economic class in modern developed countries. Of course, aside from all these scientific reasons, baldness could be linked to intellect or wisdom simply because people go bald as they age and become more experienced.
  • This is sometimes used as a stereotype in films, where the more intellectual or rather frustrated characters are most usually portrayed as bald and generally unattractive, as opposed to the main characters which are usually portrayed as attractive, fit, mentally stable and generally with no apparent hair problems.
    There is evidence, confirmed by cross cultural studies, for an association between androgen levels and intellectual ability. These findings are controversial due to their implications regarding psychology and gender.
    Total testosterone exhibits a positive relation to tactual-spatial abilities and to the degree of lateralization. Total testosterone is negatively correlated with verbal fluency. Testosterone in the saliva is also significantly positively correlated to tactual-spatial test scores and, in addition, to field independence. DHT and the ratio DHT/total testosterone are positively related to verbal fluency and negatively to the degree of lateralization of tactual-spatial performance.
  • "One's ethnicity can increase the chances of going bald."
    This idea has been seen as somewhat discriminative and sensitive in nature, however studies have shown that men of Greek or Macedonian heritage have the highest percentage of bald or balding men. (age group 16-28, typical, non married, non-drug using, males) Studies done between 6 countries in Western Europe, incl. Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Ireland and 4 countries in Eastern Europe including Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania show that Greek men of the same age group and study period had the highest percentage of full crown baldness or Alopeciae totalis (front, top and back) Another typical study during the same period showed that Greek men, 1700 out of 2457 total studied males also suffered the highest amount of random alopecia areata among men (aged 16-28, typical, non-drug using males)
  • "Baldness can be caused by emotional stress, sexual frustration etc."
    Emotional stress has been shown to accelerate baldness in genetically susceptible individuals.
  • Stress due to sleep deprivation in military recruits lowered testosterone levels, but is not noted to have affected SHBG.
  • Thus, stress due to sleep deprivation in fit males is unlikely to elevate DHT, which causes male pattern baldness. Whether it can cause hair loss by some other mechanism is not clear.
  • "Bald men are more 'virile' or sexually active than others."
    Levels of free testosterone are strongly linked to libido and also DHT levels, but unless free testosterone is virtually non-existent levels have not been shown to affect virility. Men with androgenic alopecia are more likely to have a higher baseline of free androgens. However, sexual activity is multifactoral, and androgenic profile is also not the only determining factor in baldness. Additionally, because hair loss is progressive and free testosterone declines with age, a person's hairline may be more indicative of their past than present disposition.
  • "Frequent ejaculation causes baldness"
    There are many misconceptions about what can help prevent hairloss, one of these being that frequent ejaculation may have an influence on MPB. Depending on frequency, it can raise or lower plasma testosterone. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11760788&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum The claim that frequent ejaculations can cause baldness is often viewed with skepticism.
  • "Standing on one's head alleviates baldness"
    The "blood-flow" theory, which led men to stand on their heads in the 1980s, can be found in the advertising for many of the fake hair loss treatments for sale on the internet. While Minoxidil is a vasodilator and is speculated to work, in part, by increasing blood flow to hair follicles, there is no evidence that standing on one's head can alleviate baldness.
  • "Tight hats cause baldness."
    While this may be a myth, hats do cause hair breakage and, to a lesser degree, split ends. Since hats are not washed as frequently as other clothing, they can also lead to scalp uncleanliness and possible Pityrosporum ovale contamination in men with naturally oily scalps.

Etymology

The term alopecia () is formed from the Greek alópix (αλώπηξ), meaning fox. The origin of this usage is because this animal sheds its coat twice a year.
The term bald likely derives from the English word balde, which means "white, pale", or Celtic ball, which means "white patch or blaze", such as on a horse's head.

Latest research

Research is also looking into connections between hair loss and other health issues. While there has been speculation about a connection between early-onset androgenetic alopecia and heart disease, a review of articles from 1954 to 1999 found no conclusive connection between baldness and coronary artery disease. The dermatologists who conducted the review suggested further study was needed.
Environmental factors are also under review. A 2007 study indicated that smoking may be a factor associated with age-related hair loss among Asian men. The study controlled for age and family history, and found statistically significant positive associations between moderate or severe androgenetic alopecia and smoking status.
In February 2008 researchers at the University of Bonn announced they have found the genetic basis of two distinct forms of inherited hair loss, opening a broad path to treatments for baldness. They found that a gene, P2RY5, causes a rare, inherited form of hair loss called Hypotrichosis simplex. It is the first receptor in humans known to play a role in hair growth. The fact that any receptor plays a specific role in hair growth was previously unknown to scientists and with this new knowledge a focus on finding more of these genes may be able to lead to therapies for very different types of hair loss.http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080224183501.59dd4jek&show_article=1http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23334554/
In May 2008, researchers at the University Pennsylvania unveiled a new scientific breakthrough that may cure baldness with stem cells. A product could be on the market within three years. http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/may07/hair-follicle-regeneration.htmlhttp://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&brand=msnbc&vid=3b251041-8028-403d-a6fc-e749264afc01.
In June 2008, British company Intercytex announced positive results of their latest trial for a form of cloning based Hair multiplication technique called follicular cell implantation.http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article4045906.ece The treatment is being hailed as a major advance in hair restoration and is backed by a £1.9 million government grant. The treatment is predicted to be availale to patients withn 5 years.

References

Footnotes

bald in Arabic: صلع
bald in Czech: Alopecie
bald in German: Glatze
bald in Spanish: Alopecia
bald in French: Alopécie
bald in Indonesian: Botak
bald in Italian: Calvizie
bald in Hebrew: קרחת
bald in Dutch: Alopecia androgenetica
bald in Japanese: 脱毛症
bald in Norwegian: Skallethet
bald in Polish: Łysienie
bald in Portuguese: Calvície
bald in Russian: Алопеция
bald in Sicilian: Tigna
bald in Simple English: Alopecia
bald in Slovak: Alopécia
bald in Finnish: Kalju
bald in Swedish: Skallighet
bald in Walloon: Toumaedje des tchveas
bald in Chinese: 禿頭

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Spartan, acomous, ascetic, austere, bald-headed, bare, bare-ass, beardless, blank, candid, clean-shaven, clear, cleared, clipped, colorless, common, commonplace, cropped, depilous, direct, disclosed, dry, dull, exposed, frank, free, glabrous, gymnosophical, hairless, homely, homespun, in native buff, in puris naturalibus, in the altogether, in the buff, in the raw, lackluster, lean, lifeless, lusterless, matter-of-fact, naked, natural, naturistic, neat, nude, nudist, open, open as day, open to all, overt, peeled, plain, plain-speaking, plain-spoken, polled, prosaic, prosing, prosy, pure, raw, revealed, rustic, severe, shaven, sheared, simple, simple-speaking, smooth, smooth-faced, smooth-shaven, sober, spare, stark, stark-naked, straightforward, tonsured, unadorned, unadulterated, unaffected, unarrayed, unclassified, unclogged, unclosed, uncolored, uncomplicated, uncovered, undecked, undecorated, undressed, unembellished, unfurbished, ungarnished, unhidden, unimaginative, unobstructed, unornamented, unpoetical, unrestricted, unsophisticated, unstopped, untrimmed, unvarnished, wide-open, with nothing on, without a stitch
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