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.
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!
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.
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.
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
‘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.