Although thinning hair can often be associated with old age, the most common hereditary hair loss conditions - Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss - can, in fact, begin any time following puberty in those with the relevant genetic predisposition.
Signs of pattern hair loss have traditionally tended to present later in life for previous generations, usually from mid-to-late 30s and early 40s, worsening in line with age.
Now, however, there appears to be a trend for both men and women beginning to lose their hair from a younger age. This has been noted in countries including the UK, USA and India and has been largely attributed to the increasing pressures of modern living, given both emotional and physical stress are well-established as hairloss triggers.
This is precisely what a May 2019 hair loss survey by the Chinese Youth Network Campus News Agency also found when over half of its participants, who were all reportedly in their 20s or early 30s, claimed to be losing their hair.
China Youth Network Campus News Agency received 643 completed questionnaires as part of its survey of students across the country.
The results showed that over 50% (55.568%) of respondents considered they had some kind of hairloss problem, echoing figures from a similar study carried out in 2018. Possibly due to translation issues, this seems to be a conservative number based on further figures later on in the study.
Of all the student respondents, 71.79% rated themselves as having mild hair loss, 15.36% classified themselves as having severe hair loss, and 12.85% identified as being completely bald.
Questions were set to gauge what effects hair loss had on student life and whether or not it affected their studies. The majority of students, at 61.73%, felt it had a 'minor impact', 22.35% didn't believe it had any effect, whilst 15.92% said it had a serious impact.
Additionally, 73.74% of the college students stated having hair loss put them in a bad mood.
When asked - in what appears to be a multiple choice question - what they believed was causing them to lose their hair, the overwhelming majority of students - 88.96% - cited a lack of sleep. This was described as “day and night insomnia”. Close behind, was stress with 80.56% of students pointing to this as the cause of their shedding.
Other lifestyle issues blamed for hair loss include dietary issues (68.58%), poor hair care (65.94%), 'poor nutrition' (44.01%) and a 'frequently dyed perm' (38.1%).
All of these issues can indeed contribute to, or cause, hair thinning with poor dietary habits being linked, particularly in men, to oxidative stress which can, in turn, induce shedding.
Interestingly, only around one-third of respondents believed their hair loss was hereditary (33.59%) or a 'normal physiological phenomenon' (30.64%), however.
There are temporary hair loss conditions which can occur at any age, such as Telogen Effluvium, which, though they tend to be more common in women, can also affect men. However, genetic hair loss is by far the more widely seen condition in both men and women.
Telogen Effluvium will generally present around three months after having been triggered by issues such as intense stress, diet or nutritional imbalances, underlying health issues or new medication. It causes hair to shed diffusely from all over the scalp and lasts, on average, for up to six months. Chronic Telogen Effluvium, meanwhile, lasts for at least six months.
Both these temporary hair loss conditions can exacerbate existing cases of Male or Female Pattern Baldness, or spark their premature onset where the individual has an existing genetic predisposition. It is also possible to have a temporary and permanent hair loss condition simultaneously.
These extremely common hereditary complaints cause thinning hair along the top of the scalp, from crown to hairline and temples, only, and are permanent conditions.
A North Sichuan Medical College student, Wang Xiaoqiong, told the pollsters she believed mental and physical stress was to blame for many of her peers' hair loss, and why many who also worked in the student union, in addition to their studies, complained of a receding hairline:
"Mainly because the life and work stress conference has caused people's mental state to be in a state of tension, anxiety and irritability for a long time, which leads to endocrine imbalance, affecting the hair growth cycle and causing hair loss during the rest period."
The views of Lu Yu, a student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, echo those of Xiaoqiong. He explains, "They spend their time in leisure and entertainment during the day, habitually staying up late to catch up with their homework or reviewing, and have not formed a series of time planning for themselves. Over time, physical fitness is declining, and [it's] mentally easy to feel stress and exhaustion. The two together caused the hairline to go backwards."
Given its prevalence and negative effect on students' mental health, it is perhaps unsurprising to find the survey noted 67.88% had already taken measures to alleviate hair loss.
Taking a sensible, holistic approach to heading off the potential causes of shedding, 92.5% advised trying getting more sleep on a regular basis, 80.56% chose better methods of relaxation and 77.6% worked on improving their mental health.
Whilst the translation for the choice made by 75.43% of respondents states they chose “persistence exercise”, we are assuming this means 'regular exercise' rather than persistently exercising as constant, excessive exercise has been shown to contribute to hair loss, whereas regular exercise as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle is recommended.
Of the students surveyed, 27.84% choose to follow hair loss treatment courses featuring clinically-proven hair loss solutions, whilst 25.82 % tried non-medical hair products to reverse thinning hair. A further 15.82% opted for a hair transplant, and 7.9% decided to do nothing and let nature take its course.
Although these figures relate to college students in China, it would certainly be interesting to find out how UK students' feelings and experiences of hair loss stack up against them.
As the increasing stress of modern society pressures appears to be a worldwide issue, it is likely the attitudes of these Chinese students reflect those of their international counterparts, too.
Anyone concerned about losing more hair than normal or experiencing a noticeable drop in their hair's volume, would be well-advised to have a consultation with a hair loss specialist.
Belgravia cannot send its treatments or provide assessments for those based in China, though our Central London hair loss clinics and home-use service can send hair treatments to anywhere in the UK and many other countries, following an online consultation.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
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