What is Male Pattern Baldness?
How Well Do You Understand Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness is also known as androgenic alopecia and is the most common cause of hair loss in men. More than 50 percent of all men age 50 and old, will experience male pattern baldness, in varying degrees of severity. What causes male pattern baldness? Can it be prevented? What are the best treatments? We will answer all these questions and more as we take a look at the root causes of male pattern baldness.
One of the main causes of male pattern baldness is thought to be attributed to family history and genetics. Researchers have found a correlation between male pattern baldness and androgen production. Androgens are male sex hormones that have many functions in the body, including the regulation of hair growth. Hair goes through a natural growth cycle of growing, resting, and shedding.
When male pattern baldness occurs, the hair begins to weaken during the growth cycle, the hair follicle shrinks in size, and the hairs that do grow are shorter, finer, and often more easily prone to breakage. Over time, the growth cycle for these strands ends altogether and no new hair grows.
What Are the Causes of Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness caused by androgenic alopecia does not typically have other side effects. However, it is important to rule out any other serious health-related causes. Sometimes baldness results from certain types of cancer, medications, or thyroid imbalances. Heavy metal toxicity, excess vitamin A, fungal infection of the scalp, nutritional deficiencies, or anabolic steroids cause problems too. If you are experiencing other health complaints, apart from hair loss, or if your hair loss occurs after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor. They will discuss your medical history and perform an exam to rule out certain health conditions.
If they suspect there are other causes they may order blood tests or a skin biopsy. Male pattern baldness generally isn’t a sign of a serious medical problem. However, it has been linked with other health conditions including coronary heart disease, enlarged prostate, or prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. This is just something to keep on an eye on with your doctor, who may be able to suggest some preventative measures to protect your health.
Male pattern baldness presents itself most often as a receding hairline or thinning hair around the crown of the head. Many experience either an “M” shape or a horseshoe pattern of hair that circles to the lower back of the head. Some men start to experience hair loss in their early teens. Generally speaking, male pattern baldness tends to be more severe the earlier it starts. Some hair loss is inevitable in both women and men as they age. If you notice your hair is starting to fall out, of how much you are losing, and if there is a pattern in terms of where the hair loss is occurring.
Addressing Hair Loss
There are many different ways to address hair loss ranging from the superficial to the surgical. Which methods are most appropriate for you will depend on several factors including the severity of your hair loss, budget, and desired look. Some of the simplest solutions are just used to change your hairstyle. Some men choose to disguise any thinning or balding areas of the scalp by having their hair styled in such a way that they can come over hair from the back and sides in order to hide their hair loss. Other men choose to just embrace their pattern balding and shave their heads so that they no longer have to worry about hiding their hair loss.
Some men may use hairpieces, hair systems, or hair concealers to disguise their thinning hair. These products come in a wide range of colors, textures, and applications. When it comes to hair pieces and hair systems it is important to remember that the highest quality products will be expensive. Additionally, they’ll need to be regularly cleaned and replaced. Certain methods of applying these hairpieces, especially tapes and adhesives can be damaging to the hair and scalp and make hair loss work.
Topical Hair Concealers
Hair concealers are topical products that imitate the appearance of natural hair. Most of these products are not waterproof. In other words, they cannot be worn when swimming. They also require you to purchase products regularly to maintain the desired look you want. Furthermore, some of these products may contain ingredients that can cause build-up on the scalp or damage to the hair follicle. These might be a good short-term solution in a pinch, but in the long term, neither of these solutions will benefit the overall health of your hair.
Some hair systems and hair extensions are sewn into the natural hair to make it appear longer or fuller. This can only be done if you have enough hair to weave the hair systems into. These can be worn while swimming, showering, sleeping, etc, and can even be styled into different looks. That being said, they must be removed and reinstalled regularly. These weaved styles can also contribute to traction alopecia, a condition in which hair is lost because there is too much stress and pulling on the hair shaft at the root. Traction alopecia is usually attributed to overstyling, heat styling, and heavy hairstyles that put a strain on the follicles. Needless to say, these systems aren’t a good long-term solution because they will only cause further damage to your hair.
Fighting Male Pattern Baldness
RX and Over the Counter Meds
Minoxidil or Rogaine is a topical medication. You apply it directly to the scalp. It can reduce hair loss while stimulating the hair follicles. Minoxidil requires patience and consistency. It can take anywhere between four months to one year to see visible results. If you stop applying minoxidil you will continue to lose your hair, just as before. For some users minoxidil has cause certain side effects including dryness, irritation, burning, and scaling of the scalp.
Another medication commonly prescribed for male pattern baldness is Finasteride or Propecia. Finasteride is an oral medication that slows hair loss in some men. It works by blocking the production of the male sex hormones that are responsible for the shrinking hair follicles. Finasteride has a higher success rate than minoxidil, but your hair loss will continue if you stop taking the medication also.
It can take anywhere from three months to one year before you see results. Finasteride has some fairly serious side effects that some users may be averse to including depression, breast tenderness, breast growth, swelling of the face, difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, and other sexual side effects. The topical version of finasteride does not appear to impact male sexual performance in the same way.
Hair Transplants for Male Pattern Baldness
Hair transplants are the most invasive treatment, but also the most permanent treatments for male pattern baldness. These procedures are performed by removing hair from donor areas of the scalp where hair growth is still flourishing and transplanting the follicular grafts into recipient areas of the scalp that are experiencing thinning or balding. There are two types of hair transplantation surgeries: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). FUT is performed by removing a small strip of skin from the back of the head in order to harvest the follicular grafts for harvesting.
With FUE, the surgeon uses a punch tool to extract the hair individually. FUT is usually better suited for patients that need a large number of follicular grafts to cover a thinning or balding area. It is less time-consuming and less expensive. FUE is more time-consuming but also has less discomfort in post-surgical recovery. Both treatments are outpatient procedures. These procedures can be expensive, so some people do them in several stages. Some people need more than one complete session. Others may have to get both FUE and FUT to see the results they want. Finally, some patients combine hair loss medications like minoxidil and finasteride as part of their post-surgery treatment to encourage the new hair follicles to flourish.
Making Smart Life Choices
There is no known method for preventing male pattern baldness altogether. There are some theories that stress can be a contributing factor when it comes to hair loss. Stress can cause an increase in the productions of male hormones that also contribute to shrinking hair follicles and hair loss. Reducing stress, dedicating time to relaxing activities such as meditation, improving the quality of sleep, and breathing exercises can be helpful for reducing stress.
Sometimes certain nutrient deficiencies can contribute to increased stress or inflammation in the body, so improved nutrition can also be helpful. Taking a holistic approach to hair loss and incorporating several proven treatments can be a great approach. Overall discussing your observations and health history with your doctor is the best way to determine whether you are experiencing male pattern baldness, and what you can do about it.
SUFFERING FROM HAIR LOSS?
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