The Real Deal with Male Pattern Baldness

You may have seen this condition too many times before, from celebrities, maybe a close friend, or a father.

Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, affects a lot of men on a yearly basis. In fact WebMD reports that 85% of males already show visible signs of thinning at the age of 50. This goes to show that hair loss in the male population is indeed highly common.

But in order to understand this condition more clearly, it is best to go right down to the chemical reactions that occurs within the body causing these certain changes. In that way, proper treatment can be given.

Male pattern baldness is a genetic condition where the hair sheds in a particular pattern. It either occurs as a receding hairline, a bald spot at the crown, or total hair loss. It usually affects men who are aging, but there are also cases when it strikes males who are in their teens or twenties. That is why, aside from being a physical problem, it also becomes an emotional or psychological concern. It creates significant body image disturbance for those who are affected by it.

But let us take a closer look as to why permanent hair loss occurs to certain men in the population.

The reason behind it is genetics. Contrary to common misconception, male pattern hair loss can be acquired from either parents, and not only from the mother’s side of the gene pool.

In addition to genetics, male pattern hair loss is also caused by chemical reactions in the body largely involving the primary male hormone, testosterone.

We all know that testosterone is responsible for a lot of the male characteristics, such as a change in voice and facial hairs. But when testosterone comes in contact with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, it turns into DHT or Dihydrotestosterone. And DHT is the main culprit why a lot of men are losing their precious hairs.

When DHT travels through your blood and reaches your scalp, it can affect your hair follicles by inhibiting their growth phase. As a result the hair becomes miniaturized and eventually thins out and shrinks. Furthermore, the affected hairs eventually shed resulting to bald spots.

The progression usually starts on the hairline or the crown of the head, and it most cases it spares the lower back portion. But in some cases it just leaves other’s scalp entirely barren.

Medications are widely available in the market today which specifically acts on inhibiting 5-alpha reductase before it creates the destructive change in testosterone. Over the years it has indeed provided relief in some men.

Unfortunately aside from its therapeutic effects are also accompanying untoward reactions or adverse effects. Recent reports showed that a particular brand of these hair loss medications can cause sexual dysfunction in males. But thankfully enough there are other pharmaceutical options available in the market today.

But just recently, in a study that was published by the Science Translational Medicine, a protein called prostaglandin D2 or PGD2 was discovered to also inhibit hair growth. The study also showed that men have the tendency to develop abnormal amounts of this protein on their scalp which eventually results to balding. This led to further studies to find a particular cure that will target prostaglandin D2 at its tracks.

But in order to properly know what the cause and the extent of the condition is, it is best that you approach a doctor. In that way, proper tests and evaluation can be done.

In order to measure that severity of the condition and to diagnose the type of hair loss, grading scales are used by doctors. The Norwood Scale which shows a diagram showing the progression of hair loss in which a patient will be compared against. The assessment is based on the appearance of the hair loss and the particular pattern that it takes. Along with that a detailed history will also be taken so as to determine other contributing factors.

For some a skin biopsy of the scalp can be done to determine the root cause of the hair loss, while in rare cases a hair analysis may also be done. This particular method can reveal certain chemicals that may also be triggering the hair loss such as arsenic or lead.

But when it comes down to the truth of the matter, male pattern hair loss is a permanent condition. Some live with the cards that they were dealt, and eventually grow into their new persona, while others take a more proactive approach.

One example of aggressive measures to manage hair loss is a hair transplant. In comparison to medications, this creates faster results, impressive coverage and a permanent outcome. But it can be invasive and expensive, which is why it is often looked upon as a procedure only for those who can afford it.

Laser therapy is also a new-age treatment for hair loss. By targeting the affected areas, the energy that is released by the laser stimulates the hair follicles which trigger them to grow back.

Since each case is unique, it is always best to seek sound medical advice so that you can get the proper tests done, and appropriate treatment can be given. Remember, what may work for others may not necessarily be advisable for you, therefore be advised accordingly.

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