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Male Pattern Baldness
The onset of balding in men
First, the hair thins and recedes at the temples. Simultaneously, the top of the head also experiences similar thinning of hair thickness. Gradually, a small bald patch appears on the top of the head. Then, the receding hairlines from the temples join the balding central patch. This leaves behind a patch of hair in the front, which eventually thins out too. On the sides of the scalp and at the back, a rim of hair is sometimes noticeable. This also eventually thins. Consequently, the pattern may cause complete balding in men.
The cycle of hair growth
Hair grows out of tiny pouches just under the skin surface called hair follicles. A single strand of hair grows from each follicle which has a lifespan of around 3 years. The hair then sheds and a new hair grows out of the same follicle. This cycle goes on throughout one’s life.
Causes of balding in men
- The follicles on the scalp become smaller or shrink in size over time.
- This causes the new hair to be thinner than the last strand.
- The average life of a strand of hair is also much shorter as the condition progresses.
- The hair follicle becomes very small, only a thin stump of hair remains that does not exit the skin surface.
Balding due to male hormones
- The scalp skin has some cells that aid in converting testosterone into a different hormone called dihydrotestosterone.
- Hair follicles affected by balding develop sensitivity to this hormone, leading to shrinking follicles.
- This condition is believed to be genetically transferred along the bloodline.
Outcome of baldness
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Hair loss treatment options for male pattern baldness
Hair loss treatment options include medication. The two most recommended medicines for hair follicle growth are finasteride and minoxidil. They work by preventing testosterone conversion to dihydrotestosterone. Finasteride blocks the hair follicles from getting affected by balding. Thus, they can grow back to their normal size. But, the treatment is not always successful. Yet, some men have reported satisfaction with the results.
Side effects of finasteride
- It is a slow process. Thus, it can take up to four months to notice any visible difference and even as long as 2 years for full growth of hair.
- This is a long-drawn treatment. Abruptly stopping medication will also stop the effect of the treatment.
- Very rarely, it may cause lower levels of libido or sex drive.
- Most importantly, this medication is for men use only! Also, it is available only by prescription.
Minoxidil lotion for premature baldness
Minoxidil is an over the counter prescription which can be rubbed on the scalp. The 5% strength is intended for men only and is believed to be more effective than the 2% solution. There is no scientific study to prove its effectiveness in hair regrowth, but it is said to prevent further loss of hair.