85% of men will have major hair thinning by the time they’re 50. And while hair loss doesn’t harm your health, it can certainly cause emotional stress. Male hair loss is almost always hereditary and usually starts in your 20’s. While hair loss usually occurs slowly over 15-25, in some cases the process can take as little as 5 years.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Male Pattern Baldness is the most common cause of hair loss seen in males, also know as Androgenetic Alopecia or Genetic Hair Loss. Male Pattern Baldness is caused by the interaction between Androgen Receptors, at the base of hair follicles, and Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The amount of Androgen Receptors and DHT is genetically unique to each person. The numbers and locations of hair follicles that are susceptible is determined by the genes inherited from both or one parent. Androgen Receptors are only found at the front and/or the crown/vertex of the scalp, but not ever found on the sides or back of the scalp.
The effect DHT has on your hair follicle is to alter the natural hair cycle, which consists of a Growth Phase, Transition Phase and Resting Phase. During the growth cycle each hair will grow approximately half an inch and this phase will last 3-5 years on average. At the end of the growth phase we will see a 10 day Transition Phase, before the hair enters a Resting Phase for around 3 months. When the Growth Phase restarts, the existing hair will be shed and a new one will grow in its place. Pattern Baldness will cause the Growth Phase to ongoingly become shorter in length, and the Resting Phase longer. Eventually the hair follicle will cease to grow new hairs.
Male Pattern Baldness is categorized by the Norwood scale, which can be seen above. Male Pattern Baldness typically follows a 7-stage process from early hair loss until complete hair loss in the non-permanent areas. When it comes to treating Male Pattern Baldness, the earlier on the scale you start your treatment, the more likely you are to be able to limit your future Hair Loss.
Men’s Hair Loss Treatment Options
It’s easier to keep the hair that you have rather than try to grow it back. This is why it’s important to catch hair loss as early as possible and seek treatment right away. Also, be wary of miracle products. While there are some treatments for hair loss, there is no cure.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved over-the-counter topical treatment for hair loss. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine. About 40% of men using Minoxidil experience hair regrowth after 3-6 months. Side effects can include skin irritation at the application site and unwanted hair growth in other areas. However, the effects aren’t permanent. Once you stop using Minoxidil, you will lose your hair again.
Finasteride, more commonly known as Propecia, is an oral medication sometimes prescribed for hair loss. The medication works by blocking production of DHT, the hormone that causes male pattern hair loss. Finasteride slows hair loss, and can provide around 30% improvement in hair loss after 6 months. However, finasteride can cause unpleasant side effects. As with minoxidil, the effects will end if you stop taking the medication.
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