Male pattern baldness, also known as Androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in men. Nearly one half of men will begin to bald by the time they are 30 years old. By the time men are 60 years old, nearly all of them will have some form of male pattern baldness. It typically takes 15 or more years for men to go completely bald.
Initially, hair will recede at the temples and gradually thin on the top of the head. This process continues slowly over a period of years to create a bald patch on the top of the head. As the process continues, the front of the hair also thins and falls out. Most often, a rim of hair around the back of the head and the sides of the scalp remains. Some men, however, experience complete hair loss leaving them completely bald.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness is caused by hormones and genetics. Testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone by hair follicles. Over time, the hair follicles develop a sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone. The reason for this isn’t understood, but studies show that this sensitivity causes the hair follicles to shrink in size. As the follicles shrink, new hair growth is thinner and shorter until eventually, no new hair can grow despite the follicles being alive and active.
It isn’t necessary to treat male pattern baldness, but many men are uncomfortable with their appearance as they bald. For this reason, treatment options are available to reduce, replace or disguise hair loss.
Hair weaves and wigs can be used to cover baldness. This is the most economical and safest route to treat male pattern baldness.
Two medications have been approved to treat male pattern baldness. Both of these treatment options take two to three months to see results. The results only last as long as the medication is used. Once treatment is stopped, balding resumes.
– Minoxidil is a lotion like medication that is rubbed onto the scalp. It can be purchased over the counter without a prescription and comes in both two percent and five percent strengths. It is most successful in preventing further hair loss, though studies show that 15 out of 100 men see new hair growth.
– Finasteride is another medication option that comes in pill form. It blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. This prevents the shrinking of hair follicles and helps enlarge already shrunken follicles. It is most useful for preventing further hair loss, though two out of three men report some regrowth of hair when using the medication.
Hair transplants and scalp flaps are surgical options for treating male pattern baldness. These surgeries are expensive, and results vary. Men considering surgical procedures should consult with a specialist to determine whether they are good candidates for the surgery, and to determine whether they are comfortable with the possible complications.
Research into male pattern baldness continues. New research shows that stem cells may play a part in causing male pattern baldness. The initial findings are promising for future use of stem cells to prevent and treat male pattern baldness. Research into the genetic and hormonal causes of male pattern baldness are also on-going.