Mind & Body
Causes of and Solutions for Male Pattern Baldness
6/1/2017 12:52:57 PM

Men blame it on everything from their fathers to their hormones. And they would be right. The truth is, male pattern baldness, which afflicts two-thirds of American men over the age of 35, is the result of genetics and the male sex hormone androgen. But if sporting a chrome dome in public isn’t something you’re comfortable with, there are solutions.

The most common form of male pattern baldness is androgenetic alopecia, which accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men. The cause of androgenetic alopecia is a genetically determined sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, in the scalp region. It is believed that DHT shortens the growth phase of the hair cycle, from a usual duration of three to six years to just weeks or months.  

As the growth cycle shortens and weakens, hair follicles shrink and produce shorter and finer strands of hair. In time, the growth cycle for each hair ends and no new hair grows in its place. It is estimated that about 25% of men begin the process of male pattern baldness before they reach age 21.

Doctors examine the pattern of hair loss to diagnose male pattern baldness. In addition, they may perform a medical history and exam to rule out health conditions such as fungal conditions of the scalp or nutritional disorders as the cause of a patient’s thinning hair. Doctors may also perform a skin biopsy and blood tests to diagnose disorders responsible for the hair loss.

Treating male pattern baldness varies from different hairstyles to medical procedures. Men often opt for different hairstyles, wigs or toupées to cover baldness. Some barbers offer haircuts that can give thinning hair a fuller look. Wigs and toupées can cover everything from receding hairlines to thinning hair to complete baldness and come in variety of styles, textures, and colors. Professional wig stylists can help men choose the right hairpiece for the most natural look.

Hair weaves are another way for men to cover up thinning hair. Weaves are simply wigs that are sewn into one’s natural hair. Weaves have the advantage over wigs and hairpieces in that they stay on during activities such as showering, sleeping, swimming, and can handle windy days. They do, however, require upkeep. Weaves must be sewn again into one’s hair whenever new growth takes place. The sewing process is also known to damage natural hair.

Perhaps the most popular way for men to combat male pattern baldness is with the topical medication known as Minoxidil, sold over the counter as Rogaine. Available in foam or liquid form, Rogaine is applied to the scalp, slowing hair loss for one year and stimulating the hair follicles so new hair will grow. Men who use Rogaine must do so every day or they will lose their new hair.

Another medical treatment for male pattern baldness is Finasteride, sold as Propecia or Proscar. Propecia is an oral medication that slows hair loss in some men by blocking the production of DHT. Like Minoxidil, men must take Propecia every day or they will begin losing the new hair they have grown. Propecia, however, has had a higher success rate than Minoxidil.

So if male pattern baldness has you searching for answers, consult your doctor or try a non-medical solution. You may be surprised at the results.

Posted by: Frank DiCesare | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Health

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