Male Pattern Baldness
What is male pattern baldness?
This is a type of hair loss in men that is related to genes and primarily affects the top and front part of the scalp. It is also known as androgenetic alopecia. It is the most common type of hair loss in men. The pattern of hair loss is receding of the hairline and loss and thinning of hair on the crown.
What causes male pattern baldness?
Testosterone is the most important androgen in men. It is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as growth of the penis and testes, growth of pubic hair, deep voice, among other things.
To render it active, testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by an enzyme. DHT acts on different parts of the body including the hair follicles.
Some families have genes that make men more likely to develop male pattern baldness. In men with these genes, their hair follicles are more sensitive to the effects of DHT. This means that their hair follicles grow thinner and shorter with each cycle of growth at a younger age.
How is do you make a diagnosis of male pattern baldness?
The pattern of hair loss is usually a reliable guide towards the diagnosis of male pattern baldness.
A positive family history is also a good pointer towards making the diagnosis.
It is important to take note that not all hair loss in men are due to male pattern baldness even in those with a positive family history. Hair loss that is patchy or associated with shedding of a lot of hair, hair breaks, redness, scaling, pus or pain may be due to other causes.
Blood tests, skin biopsy or other procedures may be done to help with the diagnosis of the cause of hair loss.
What is the treatment for male pattern baldness?
Some people are comfortable with their appearance and therefore they may not need any treatment. Others may use hair weaving or change hair style to deal with the problem. This is a cheap way of dealing with male pattern baldness.
There are medications that can be used to treat male pattern baldness. These include
This is a solution that is applied directly to the scalp to stimulate hair follicles. It slows down the process of hair loss and some men grow new hair. However, it is important to note that the effects of this drug do not last long, hair loss returns as soon as you stop using the drug.
This drug inhibits the enzyme that is responsible for conversion of testosterone to the highly active form dihydrotestosterone. This therefore reduces the activity of dihydrotestosterone at the hair follicle. The end effect of the drug is slowing down the process of hair loss.
Finasteride works better than minoxidil. However, just like minoxidil, the effect only lasts as long as you are using the drug.
It is important to note that finasteride may decrease sexual ability. This is harmless. If it persists, you can consult your doctor.
This drug has a similar mechanism of action as finasteride. However it may be more effective in treatment of male pattern baldness.
Hair transplant is also an alternative in the treatment of male pattern baldness. It involves removal of hair follicles from one part of the body to a balding site. Areas of the scalp that are resistant to balding such as the back of the head are preferred as donor sites.