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The Basics Of Male Pattern Baldness: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Experiencing thinning hair or receding hairline? Well, that’s male pattern baldness for you, also known as androgenetic alopecia. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Is your head feeling a little empty, literally? Whether you’ve just noticed your hair thinning, or you’ve been desperately attempting to salvage and cover up your bald spots for years, hair loss can be bothersome at best, and embarrassing at worst. 

What Male Pattern Baldness Looks Like

Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss in men. Hair loss occurs over a period of time. 

  • It usually starts with thinning of the hair on your scalp.
  • It then evolves into a bald spot on the crown of your head and a receding hairline that resembles an “M” shape. 
  • If left untreated, it may eventually progress into partial or complete baldness.

Norwood Scale

The severity of male pattern baldness is often assessed using the Norwood Scale as shown below. 

Image credit: Medical News Today

How Much is Too Much Hair Loss?

If you’ve noticed some strands of hair lying around your floor or clogging up your bathroom drain, don’t panic or jump to conclusions immediately! It’s completely normal for you to shed some hair every day. In fact, a normal person may shed 50 to 100 strands of hair per day, and this number varies from person to person. However, if you are losing more than 100 strands of hair per day or 700 strands per week, you may want to get it checked out. 

You’re Not Alone in the Crowd

Male pattern baldness is a common phenomenon among men. In fact, a study in Singapore found that more than half of Singaporean men between 17 and 86 years of age suffer from male pattern baldness. Moreover, hair loss becomes more common with age, and about 69% of men experience some form of male pattern baldness by the time they hit their 36th birthday. 

Causes of Male Pattern Baldness

“Am I too stressed lately? Is my junk diet at blame? Or maybe I’m not eating enough nutrients?” Are these thoughts constantly running through your head as you try to pinpoint the cause of your hair loss? Well, you may be surprised to hear that the main culprit that’s stealing your hair aren’t any of those. Instead, let’s point your fingers in the right direction – unfavourable genetics and imbalanced hormones. 

Genetics

Male pattern hair loss can be hereditary, and it can be inherited from either of your parents. Some men who are extremely lucky with their genes do not experience male pattern baldness. Besides deciding your likelihood of having male pattern baldness, your family history also decides how severe your hair loss is. 

Hormones

Don’t go around lamenting about your genetics just yet! A bigger culprit may be at play – dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a male sex hormone that is usually responsible for male sex characteristics, such as the development of the male genitals, deepening of your voice, and growth of body hair. Simply put, DHT contributes to every male’s development during puberty. 

However, too much of anything isn’t going to do you any good. Excessive DHT can shrink your hair follicles, making them less conducive for supporting healthy hair growth. Furthermore, DHT messes with your hair growth cycle. Not only does this cause your hair to fall out faster, but it also causes new growing hair to be thinner and more brittle. 

Battling Hair Loss

We’re about to break to you some bad news and good news. Hold your breath – the bad news is, there’s no magical permanent cure for hair loss yet. Yikes, that sounds terrible. The good news? It’s still possible to reduce future hair loss. The sooner you act, the more hair you can preserve. After all, prevention is always better than cure, and it is more difficult to revive a hair follicle that is already “dead”. Next, let’s discuss the two most common hair loss medical treatments – minoxidil and finasteride. 

Minoxidil

A popular choice among balding men is minoxidil, which usually comes in the form of a topical solution or lotion. Applying minoxidil to your scalp can help to slow down the progression of hair loss and restore some of your hair that you thought was gone forever. 

Finasteride

Another crowd-favourite treatment option is finasteride, which comes in the form of oral tablets. Finasteride reduces the level of DHT hormones, which is the main cause of male pattern baldness. This eventually helps to reduce hair loss and possibly regrow some of your hair. 

A combination of minoxidil and finasteride

A 2015 research revealed that using a combination of both minoxidil and finasteride is more effective than using either one alone. If you are unsure about your treatment options, don’t hesitate to connect with our doctors

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait 

We’re sorry to break this to you, but hair loss treatments aren’t magical and they don’t work overnight. Worse still, there might be an initial increase in hair loss, better known as “shedding”, when you first start on medical treatment. 

However, it’s important to remember that shedding is normal and will eventually go away by itself as your body adjusts to the treatment. It’s even a good sign that your treatment is working, as shedding indicates the start of a new hair growth cycle. During shedding, your older and more brittle hair will fall out, making way for new and stronger hair to grow. Normally, shedding lasts any time between 2 to 8 weeks, although this duration may vary across different individuals. If you’re lucky, you may not even experience it! 

It may take 4 months or longer to notice an improvement in hair density. Consistency is also key when it comes to hair loss treatment; your hair loss treatment is only effective if you maintain a regular treatment schedule. 

How We Can Help 

If you can’t decide on a treatment option, or if you find trudging to the clinic and waiting for your turn way too cumbersome and time-consuming, we’re here to help you. At Arx, you simply need to fill in a short questionnaire and connect with one of our friendly doctors online. You don’t even need to step out of your house – Arx promises to deliver your medications right to your doorstep in discreet packaging. 

References

  • Ho, C. H. (2021, May 5). Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/.
  • Tang, P. H., Chia, H. P., Cheong, L. L., & Koh, D. (2000). A Community Study of Male Androgenetic Alopecia in Bishan, Singapore. Singapore Medical Journal 2000, 41(5), 202–205.
  • Jewell, T. (2019, January 10). DHT: How It Causes Hair Loss and How to Slow It. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/dht.
  • British Association of Dermatologists. (2019). Male Pattern Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia).
  • Chandrashekar, B. S., Nandhini, T., Vasanth, V., Sriram, R., & Navale, S. (2015). Topical minoxidil fortified with finasteride: An account of maintenance of hair density after replacing oral finasteride. Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 6(1), 17–20. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.148925.

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