Male pattern baldness: Symptoms, causes, and treatments you want to know 

Our hair heavily influences our appearance and confidence. It shows a part of our personality. However, men have a certain concern with this as they age, since it is common for men to experience a certain degree of hair loss as they age. The most common of these hair loss concerns is called male pattern baldness.

This baldness is also called alopecia, or androgenic alopecia. It is estimated that more than 50% of men will be, to some extent, affected by pattern baldness.  As a man gets older, his likelihood to have hair loss increases.

Such hair loss in men can eventually progress to partial or complete baldness. Even though this does not usually come with health threats, hair loss is detrimental to a man’s confidence and self-esteem.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MALE PATTERN BALDNESS

Men are surely aware of how their hair volume changes over time. Some tend to recede in a certain pattern and eventually lose their volume and strength. In male pattern baldness, hair loss begins as the hairline recedes in an M-shaped pattern. Eventually, guys will notice thinning of the portion of their hair on the crown which can leave a bald spot. In time, these two bald spots will meet, and the hair left will just be a horseshoe pattern on the sides of the head. This gradual thinning of hair is a common symptom of male pattern baldness.

Other possible symptoms are circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard, or eyebrows. Sometimes, people can experience itchiness before the hair falls out. This pattern and rate of progression of hair loss vary from one man to another. Usually, some men can experience hair loss pattern even as early as their teenage years. Hence, with such an early onset of symptoms, expect to have greater loss of hair over time.      

Let us keep in mind that some health conditions can cause baldness. Usually, if a man experiences rash, pain, peeling of the scalp, very rapid hair loss, or unusual bald spots, then it might be a good option to consider a professional consult. Such symptoms can be associated with some disorders and can be diagnosed with a skin biopsy or blood test.

WHAT CAUSES MALE PATTERN BALDNESS?

Now, since some men are experiencing the symptoms, it is important to ask: what causes this hair loss? According to literature, male pattern baldness is related to genes and male sex hormones. This is something innate in a person, and unfortunately, something we do not have absolute control over. If a man has close relatives especially from the maternal side who experience male pattern baldness, then it will not be surprising for him to experience it as well.

Hair growth in males is regulated by the sex hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone). This hormone, other than giving men their characteristic masculine features, affects the hair follicles. These are structures embedded in the skin where hair grows from and are very important in hair growth. However, DHT can cause these follicles to shrink and fail to support and make new hair grow.

Our hair undergoes a growth cycle. But in men with hair loss problems, this cycle is weakened. Hair strands that grow out of them will now be finer and shorter. It will then come to a point where there will be no new hair, leaving bald spots.

Also, several studies have shown other possible causes. Hair loss can be a result of the body reacting to intense stress or as an aftermath of a certain illness. Moreover, some medications have side effects that induce hair loss. Anticoagulants and vitamin A supplements have been shown to somehow induce hair loss in men.

POSSIBLE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR MALE PATTERN BALDNESS

Baldness, without any associated medical conditions, is usually not treated. However, given the sudden change in appearance, some men are not pleased with such a look. There are various treatments to address baldness if one is not satisfied with how it looks.

A simple and inexpensive way to address the way baldness looks for some men is the use of hair weaves or hairpieces. The advantage of hairpieces or wigs, aside from their safety and low cost, is that they can be styled depending on your hair volume, texture, and color. On the other hand, hair weaves are wigs that are sewn into natural hair. Despite being more secure, this can damage your remaining natural hair. Another simple way to address this is to ask your hairstylist to give you a new hairdo which can be disguised as something fuller-looking and intentionally cover the bald area.

Now that we know the simple treatment options, let us now look into the more intricate ways to address hair loss. There is no cure for hair loss, but we have medications that can slow it down. Minoxidil (Rogaine), a topical medication, and Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar), an oral medication are commonly prescribed. They have different ways to be used but both slow down hair loss. However, these can take a couple of months of continued intake before being able to see its effect.

Shampoo treatments can also be used. Often sold are Ketoconazole 2% (Nizoral) and Pyrithione Zinc 1% (Head and Shoulders). Even though these are commonly used also, they are deemed less effective than the medicines mentioned earlier.

The most expensive and invasive treatment available is a hair transplant. A doctor or a dermatologist will take hair follicles from a different part of the body and will be placed on the bald areas of the scalp. This treatment option is very expensive and time-consuming as it can take around 6 months to see the full effect.  

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