Male pattern baldness is a common form of hereditary hair loss. More than 80 percent of men experience male pattern baldness at some point in their life. Male pattern baldness can occur over the course of several decades or begin and end within a couple of years. In the following article, we discuss male pattern baldness, the stages of male pattern baldness, and treatment. We also answer the questions what is hair loss, what causes male pattern baldness and can male pattern baldness be treated?
Male pattern baldness is a form of hereditary hair loss passed down through generations via the AR gene found in the X chromosome. The AR gene controls the activity of androgen receptors in the body. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, more than half of all men will be affected by male pattern baldness by the age of fifty.
Male pattern baldness can take place slowly over the course of several decades or within a couple years. In extreme cases, all hair can disappear from the head within five years. However, it is more common for complete hair loss to take between 15 and 25 years.
Male pattern baldness is a type of hair loss, loss or recession of hair from any part of the body. Most hair loss occurs first at the top of the scalp of the head before continuing down the scalp. Hair loss can be triggered by multiple factors including aging, hereditary conditions, hormonal changes, or medical conditions.
Male pattern baldness is a hereditary condition passed down through male genes. Research has found that male pattern baldness is associated with male sex hormones called androgens. Androgens are responsible for multiple parts of sexual development in men, including the growth of body hair and changes in voice.
Scientists have also raised the possibility that male pattern baldness may be influenced by hair follicles’ sensitivity to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is a male sex hormone derived from testosterone. It influences and catalyzes developmental processes like body hair growth, deepening of the voice, and changes in how fat is stored in men.
The development and severity of male pattern baldness are often measured across a spectrum known as the Norwood Scale. The Norwood Scale was first developed by Dr. O’Tar Norwood in the 1950s in an effort to more easily track male pattern baldness in patients over the span of multiple decades. The Norwood Scale is comprised of seven unique stages:
Stage 1: During the first stage, there is no significant hair loss or recession of the hair line.
Stage 2: There is a slight recession of hair around the temples, but hair atop the head remains normal.
Stage 3: The first signs of significant balding begin to appear. The hair line becomes deeply recessed at the temples.
Stage 4: Hair recession is more severe than stages two and three. The top of the head, often referred to as the vertex, is completely bare.
Stage 5: Hair loss on the vertex and around the temples continues.
Stage 6: The balding areas at the temple begin to join with the balding areas around the vertex.
Stage 7: The seventh stage is the most severe, during which the head may be completely bald or accompanied only by a small band of hair around the head.
Treatment for male pattern baldness is completely optional in most cases. There are very few negative side effects associated with male pattern baldness. For those who do seek treatment, there are multiple options available, including changes in diet, prescription medications, and surgical procedures.
Studies have shown medications and changes in diet to have the ability to treat male pattern baldness. Foods high in vitamins A and D can promote hair growth by aiding in the secretion of sebum, an oily substance that keeps hair healthy. Other treatment options for male pattern baldness include medications such as finasteride. In extreme cases, hair transplant surgery may be necessary.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, the following foods may be helpful in lessening the impact male pattern baldness and contributing to hair growth.
Carrots contain a plant pigment called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A and biotin, both of which can cause hair growth.
Salmon contains high amounts of Vitamin D which can stimulate hair follicles and lead to hair growth.
Oysters contain high amounts of Zinc, a vitamin which keeps oil glands around the hair follicles productive and working properly.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the administration of two drugs to treat male pattern baldness: finasteride and minoxidil. Both can decrease hair loss and help hair regrowth in the treatment of male pattern baldness.
Finasteride is a prescription medication available as an oral tablet. It is used to treat male pattern baldness, but is not often prescribed for hair loss in women or children. Finasteride works by lowering the amount of DHT in the body.
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Minoxidil is used to slow balding and stimulate hair growth. It is more effective for hair loss in men under the age of 40. Minoxidil can also be used by women whose hair is thinning due to age.
For more extreme cases of male pattern baldness, a procedure known as hair transplant surgery may be recommended. Hair transplant surgery involves removing hair follicles from the back of the head and placing them on the scalp.
Male pattern baldness can be reversed only if treated early in the hair loss process. Once hair follicles are destroyed, hair loss becomes irreversible. It is important to seek advice from a medical professional as soon as possible if you desire to mitigate or reverse male pattern baldness.
To determine if you are experiencing male pattern baldness, it is advisable to seek the help of a dermatologist or other healthcare provider. Dermatologists can perform a dermoscopy to examine your scalp. A dermoscopy can reveal the extent of hair loss, identify the miniaturization of hair follicles, and measure the space between each hair follicle.
Dermatologists will use the results from a dermoscopy along with detailed questionnaires about family hair loss history to make a diagnosis.
Male pattern baldness is a type of hereditary hair loss passed down through generations via a gene found in the X chromosome. It can occur quickly or happen over the course of 15 or 20 years.
Male pattern baldness can be diagnosed by a licensed dermatologist through a non-invasive procedure called a dermoscopy. Finasteride is a popular prescription medication used to treat male pattern baldness by lowering the amount of a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone.