Male pattern baldness or Androgenetic Alopecia is responsible for 95% of male hair loss. In America, two-thirds of men will experience some degree of hair loss, and by the age of fifty 85% of men have already experienced thinning hair. An astounding twenty-five percent of men will face some balding before they reach twenty-one. There are many possible reasons for men to lose their hair, reasons which could range from stress to serious disease, to reactions to various medications. But, for in most cases, the reason is hereditary which has helped spring to life so many options for hair loss treatment for men.
The mechanism that causes hair loss is a sensitivity within the hair follicle to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The DHT sensitivity causes hair follicles to miniaturize, which also shortens their lifespan. Once miniaturized, the follicle is no longer able to produce what is considered “cosmetically acceptable hair.”
Hair loss usually begins with a receding hairline and a receding crown. These areas are the first to go because these areas are the most sensitive to DHT.
The intimate details of the mechanisms behind male pattern baldness still aren’t completely understood. What is known is that testosterone is converted to DHT by the enzyme type 2 5-alpha-reductase, which usually resides in the oil glands of the scalp.
Hair loss, in men, is diagnosed with a visual assessment supplemented by an examination of a patients’ medical and family history. Most experienced hair loss experts will begin the examination by magnification, using a device called a densitometer. The purpose of this is to not only observe the loss of hair but to check the progress of the follicle miniaturization.
The effects of male hair loss arent only physiological, but psychological as well. The ramifications can spiral outwards, affecting the totality of a person’s life. The loss of hair contributes to a more aged appearance, which causes an overall decrease in confidence. 75% of men reported a loss of confidence after their hair loss began, while 60 percent reported that they had been mocked at least once for their hair loss. The loss of hair can be especially hard for those twenty-five percent of men who experience it before the age of twenty-one. Because they often see it as the waning of youth, something most people in their early twenties accurately assume to be at least a decade or two away. Studies have also shown that employers are less likely to hire men with visible hair loss. This is assumed that they are perceived as being older, which would be a disadvantage to the hiring company.
Surveys show that it’s not uncommon for men who are losing their hair to feel as if they’re losing control of their lives. Hair loss is associated with increased levels of anxiety and is believed to further aggravate pre-existing mental conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
There are a plethora of hair treatments on the market that promise to treat balding. The best treatments rely on preventative intervention. Most of these are drugs that inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, such as Propecia or finasteride. Finasteride at only a one-milligram dose will lower DHT in patients by 60%. This has been shown to stop the progression of hair loss in 86% of men who took the drug during clinical trials. The trial participants even experienced an increase in hair growth.
Finasteride was originally created to be used as a drug to treat enlarged prostates. But doctors and researchers began to notice that one of its side effects was that it halted hair loss in men.
Hair loss though traditionally viewed as an inconsequential cosmetic inconvenience, actually has lasting effects on peoples lives, how others perceive them and how they perceive themselves. Fortunately if early caught MPB is preventable with the proper medication and treatment.