Everyone loses hair all the time, maybe up to 100 strands a day. They fall out, then grow back in, and the cycle starts over again. But eventually, most guys will start to notice that they’re losing more than before and it’s not growing back. Hair loss can be embarrassing, but if you have male-pattern baldness, it may be inevitable.
Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss. It typically affects men starting from about the age of 30. Male pattern baldness is an inherited condition that involves hair loss as you get older. It is inherited either from your mother or father or both of your parents. Although this inherited type of hair loss can also affect women, the pattern of hair loss is different in female pattern hair loss.
Also known as androgenic alopecia, balding is quite common. Has a characteristic feature of receding hairline and/or hair loss on the top and front of the head. It affects an estimated 50% of men. For some men, it can begin as early as adolescence, with the risk becoming higher as they get older.
Causes of male pattern baldness
One cause of male pattern baldness is genetics, or having a family history of baldness. Research has found that male pattern baldness is associated with male sex hormones called androgens. The androgens have many functions, including regulating hair growth.
Male pattern hair loss is an inherited condition, caused by a genetically determined sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in some areas of the scalp. DHT is believed to shorten the growth, or anagen, phase of the hair cycle. It shortens the usual duration of 3–6 years to just weeks or months. This occurs together with miniaturisation of the follicles, and progressively produces fewer and finer hairs.
Each hair on your head has a growth cycle. With male pattern baldness, this growth cycle begins to weaken and the hair follicle shrinks. This produces shorter and finer strands of hair. Eventually, the growth cycle for each hair ends and no new hair grows in its place.
Other Reasons for Hair Loss
Sometimes baldness has more serious causes, such as certain cancers, medications, thyroid conditions, and anabolic steroids. Besides stress and scalp infections can also play a role. Therefore, see your doctor if hair loss occurs suddenly, instead of gradually thinning over time.
Symptoms of male-pattern baldness
The typical pattern of male baldness begins at the hairline. The hairline gradually moves backward (recedes) and forms an “M” shape. Eventually the hair becomes finer, shorter, and thinner, and creates a U-shaped (or horseshoe) pattern of hair around the sides of the head.
What treatments are available for male pattern hair loss?
Many men are comfortable with hair loss as they get older and do not seek treatment for male pattern hair loss. However, there are treatments available for those men who wish to slow down hair loss, stimulate hair regrowth or disguise hair loss.
Sold over-the-counter, this topical solution stimulates hair follicles when you apply it to your scalp regularly. It can slow hair loss and may trigger new hair growth in some men, but it only works as long as you use it. It generally takes at least 4 months of applying minoxidil twice a day for any effect to be seen. However, common side effects of minoxidil include a dry, red and itchy scalp.
It works by blocking the enzyme that changes testosterone to DHT. This prescription drug is an oral tablet. The usual dose of finasteride is one tablet daily. It prevents further hair loss and increase hair growth in men. However, it may take 2 or more years before a noticeable effect is seen. Also, the effects lasts while you continue to take the medicine – if you stop taking the tablets hair loss will resume.
However, a small number of men report a decreased libido (sex drive) and problems with their erections (erectile dysfunction), which may be related to the medication. Dutasteride is a similar medicine.
A hair transplant is the most invasive and expensive treatment for hair loss. Hair transplants work by removing hair from areas of the scalp that have active hair growth and transplanting them to thinning or balding areas of your scalp. Multiple treatments are often necessary, and the procedure carries the risk of scarring and infection. The advantages of a hair transplant are that it looks more natural and it’s permanent.
Other techniques for male-pattern baldness
Many men simply embrace the change and address their receding hairline by shaving their head or experimenting with different hairstyles. Wigs, hairpieces, and weaves are other options for those who aren’t ready to change their look.