“Why me?” and “What now?” are two questions that men ask when they first notice hair loss. Although male pattern baldness is a common condition — it affects two out of three men — it is not a welcome one. Despite the fact that so many men have it, hair loss can cause embarrassment, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
Fortunately, many treatments exist for male pattern baldness. Armed with knowledge about this common condition, men can make informed decisions regarding the various treatment options. Breaking the hair loss myths is a good place to start.
Common Hair Loss Myths
Several common myths are linked to male pattern baldness. Shattering these myths can move men a step closer to successful hair loss treatment.
Contrary to popular thought, male baldness is not the result of physical or emotional stress. It is not caused by wearing tight baseball caps or ponytail holders. Pattern baldness does not stem from nutrient deficiencies, scalp oils or sweat. Most hair loss in men is due to hormones and heredity.
The medical name for male pattern baldness is androgenic alopecia. As the name implies, it involves androgens or male hormones as well as genetics. Men with male pattern baldness are genetically predisposed to hair loss, and there is no way around it.
Pattern Baldness Truths
Pattern baldness results from a genetic sensitivity to an androgen called dihydrotestosterone or DHT. This hormone is derived from testosterone, the chief sex hormone in men. A metabolic enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase transforms free testosterone into DHT.
Men with pattern hair loss have too much DHT in their scalp hair. This causes the hair follicles to miniaturize or shrink. As a result, the hair that grows in these follicles become thin, brittle and choked off. Eventually, the follicles stop producing hair and baldness occurs.
The gene that causes male baldness can come from a mother or father. The symptoms of this type of hair loss can appear in men as young as 20 years of age. A receding hairline that progresses to an M-shaped pattern is the most common sign. Pattern baldness can also include hair loss on the top or back of the head.
Common Hair Loss Treatments
Unlike some types of hair loss, there is no cure for male pattern baldness. However, some treatments can slow the progression of hair loss or stimulate new hair growth. They must contain DHT blockers or growth stimulants to work.
The most popular treatments for male pattern baldness are minoxidil and finasteride. These medications are the only two drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hair loss.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter (OTC) topical treatment that is formulated to stop hair loss and regrow hair. The hair loss resumes when men stop using this medication.
Finasteride is an oral medication that was developed to treat pattern baldness. It is available only by prescription. Finasteride is a DHT-inhibitor that also encourages hair regrowth.
Although minoxidil and finasteride are common hair loss treatments, they are not the only treatments for male pattern baldness. Hair transplants and scalp reductions provide permanent treatment for hair loss in men. Certain topical lotions, hair loss shampoos and nutritional supplements can also be effective if they contain ingredients that block DHT or stimulate hair growth.
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.