Hair Loss in Men: Common but not Inevitable
Androgenetic alopecia, the medical term for male pattern baldness, is a common type of hair loss. It accounts for nearly 95 percent of all male baldness. Two-thirds of American men experience hair loss by time they are 35 years old. By age 50, about 85 percent have thinning hair. A fourth of all men suffer from baldness before they are 21 years old.
Contrary to common belief, most men with male pattern baldness are unhappy about their situation. Most would do anything to regrow their hair and prevent further hair loss. Baldness affects every aspect of life, from personal relationships to professional life. Some men actually change their career because of hair loss.
Fortunately, there are many products and services available to treat hair loss. From government-approved medications and clinically-tested supplements to surgical procedures, many of these treatments can stop or prevent hair loss. Some can even regrow hair. A doctor can evaluate the probable cause of baldness and recommend possible treatments.
What Causes Hair Loss in Men?
Androgenetic alopecia is responsible for most hair loss in men. Although men can lose their hair as a result of illness, medications, environmental factors or even stress, most male baldness is hereditary.
Men with male pattern baldness inherit hair follicles that are genetically sensitive to DHT, a medical abbreviation for dihydrotestosterone. DHT is a hormone byproduct of testosterone, the primary male sex hormone. Too much DHT in the scalp causes hair follicles to miniaturize and eventually stop producing hair.
Male baldness typically starts with a receding hairline and thinning hair on top of the head. The hair at the temples and in front of the scalp seem to be the most sensitive to DHT. The hair loss pattern eventually progresses to complete baldness on top of the scalp, leaving a horseshoe pattern of hair around the head.
How is Hair Loss Diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose androgenetic alopecia based on appearance and hair loss pattern. A detailed medical history, including a family history, helps to confirm a diagnosis. A physical examination of the scalp often entails the use of a densitometer, a device that measures the degree of miniaturization in the hair follicles.
How is Hair Loss Treated?
Modern medicine has made significant strides in the treatment of male pattern baldness. With the advent of DHT blockers and advancements in surgical treatments, hair loss is no longer inevitable. Medications exist to stop hair loss, prevent further baldness and, in some cases, regrow hair.
In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two hair loss treatments: minoxidil and finasteride. Minoxidil was the first drug approved to treat hair loss in men. Taken in pill form, it was originally used to treat high blood pressure. Hair growth was an interesting side effect.
While topical minoxidil is available over the counter, finasteride is a prescription medication. This oral medication is formulated to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. It is often the first line of defense for men who are fighting pattern baldness.
Hair loss treatment is not limited to FDA-approved drugs. Many men find success with natural, non-prescription hair loss formulas. Some of these products are topical solutions, while others combine lotions or shampoos with nutritional supplements. The most effective products contain minerals, herbs and other ingredients that block DHT production.
Hair replacement is another treatment option. Surgical hair replacement includes scalp reduction, hair transplants and other hair restoration procedures. Wigs and hairpieces are common non-surgical options.
Men who are affected by hair loss experience a range of emotions, and baldness can greatly affect their confidence. Fortunately, many effective treatments exist to improve their appearance, self-esteem and quality of life.
Jake Conner has been a researcher and author for more than 11 years. Jake has made it his mission to discover solutions that can improve the lives of other people. When Jake is not researching a health related topic such as Alopecia, he spends most of his time traveling with his family.