Understand what male pattern baldness is and what you can do about it.

One of the biggest stressors for men, and some women, is when they start to see their hair thin out near the temples and at the crown of their head. Any semblance of balding can make people afraid of what’s to come and add an unnecessary worry into their lives.

It is estimated that a majority of men across the world will see some form of balding in their lives. It might start when you’re in your teens, but the chances increase drastically once you cross 50 years of age. Some studies have shown that stressful lifestyles and unhealthy habits and dandruff can cause more balding in younger people than before.

What is male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia?

Although the human body sheds 50-100 hair strands on a normal day, hair loss becomes evident when this number increases and new hair stops growing. Male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in the world, which is intricately linked to androgens or sex hormones.

Androgens play an important role in our body and are involved with hair growth, bone density, muscle development and even sebum production. Testosterone is a type of androgen.

Each hair strand has a life cycle, with a growth phase of 2 to 6 years followed by a resting phase. It then falls out. An increase in androgen levels in the follicles can lead to a shorter growth cycle and quicker shedding. The new hair is often shorter and thinner, with a delay in new hair replacing the old.

In male baldness, you will see a loss of hair above the temples to give you the characteristic ‘M’ shape which eventually turns into a ‘U’ shape. Hair thinning at crown male or female, is also an important indicator in your balding pattern.

Is androgenetic alopecia hereditary?

Sadly, male baldness can be inherited. Men who have relatives with hair thinning at crown male, are at a higher risk of developing it themselves. This is seen to be true on the maternal side.

Studies have shown that male baldness pattern is associated with many genes, including the AR gene. This particular gene feeds instructions towards making a protein called androgen receptors. Variations in this gene can possibly affect the hair follicles and your balding patterns.

Any other reasons for male balding?

Androgenetic Alopecia is not the only reason for you seeing a loss of hair on your head. It’s important to have a correct diagnosis before jumping to conclusions. Doctors might conduct skin biopsy or blood tests to rule out any other issues, such as:

  • Alopecia Areata, which is an autoimmune disorder.
  • Seasonal hair loss due to weather stress.
  • Reaction to products or medications.
  • Fungal infections.
  • Severe inflammation at the follicles.
  • Hair shaft abnormalities.
  • Stress induced hormonal imbalances.
  • Thyroid disease.

How to manage male pattern baldness

If you have identified this to be the source of your hair troubles, you might want to try the following. But be careful and always consult an expert. A treatment for hair loss in male can have severe side effects and comes with dangerous consequences. Be cautious.

  • Minoxidil – This is a popular medication used for hair loss and is applied topically on your scalp. It can slow down hair loss and stimulate new hair growth, with the effects being seen over 4 to 6 months. However, the hair loss can resume once you stop this medication. The side effects might include swelling, irritation, burning, weight gain, chest pain, etc.
  • Finasteride – An oral medication, this treatment for hair loss works by blocking or reducing the effect of male hormone production linked to hair loss. Most people see results in 3 to 12 months. But if the medication is stopped, you can start losing hair again. The side effects are pretty strong, which include itching, sexual dysfunction, swellings, and even depression.
  • Shampoos – Just like anti dandruff shampoo for men, you will also find mens hair loss shampoos that are medicated. Shampoos with ketoconazole and zinc pyrithione are sometimes used to counter hair loss, but they are more effective against hair fall due to fungal infections. There are many options available in the market and you should check what might work for you, based on recommendations from your doctor.
  • Hair transplant – There are different types of transplants conducted across the world, with Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) being quite popular. These remove individual follicles from the back of your head and plug them into the top. It can be effective in changing the look of your head, but it’s expensive and the results may vary.
  • Treatment – Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment is used to inject your own platelets back into the hair follicles, with the hope of stimulating hair growth in those regions. You can also try laser treatment or light therapy to aim for the same goal. But you should be wary of false advertising and dodgy practitioners.
  • Change your lifestyle – Might not be effective immediately but changing your lifestyle can affect your hair quality. Eat healthy, reduce your stress levels and keep your scalp clean. Use shampoos like the Head and Shoulders Anti-hairfall, that can rescue damaged hair, deep cleanse pores, and provide scalp hygiene

Male baldness pattern can sometimes be out of your control and leave you feeling stressed. You might want to consider getting counselling and finding a way to live with it.