Losing your head over your receding hairline? Here is everything you need to know about male pattern baldness and what you can do to prevent it.
In this article:
- What Is Male Pattern Baldness?
- Who Experiences Androgenetic Alopecia?
- How Common Is Androgenetic Alopecia?
- Why Does Male Pattern Baldness Happen?
- When Does Male Pattern Baldness Usually Start?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Male Pattern Baldness?
- How Do You Treat Male Pattern Baldness?
Male Pattern Baldness | What It Is And How To Prevent It
What Is Male Pattern Baldness?
You have seen it before —that “M-shaped” receding hairline that starts from the forehead. Your dad, your grandpa, your friend… maybe you can see it when you look in the mirror.
Male pattern baldness (MPB) is a form of androgenetic alopecia. It is a condition that causes you to lose hair as you age. Often, the thinning of hair of people with androgenetic alopecia is a gradual process.
Who Experiences Androgenetic Alopecia?
While male pattern baldness is only experienced by males, androgenetic alopecia is experienced by both sexes. In women, the condition is more commonly called female pattern baldness.
The pattern of hair loss is different in women. Symptoms of the condition usually start a later age, often after menopause. The hair becomes thinner all over the head as the hairline remains the same.
It is rare for androgenetic alopecia to lead to total baldness in women.
How Common Is Androgenetic Alopecia?
According to the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), the condition affects around 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States alone. They further explain that to some extent, male pattern baldness will affect over half of all men over 50 years old.
MPB is the leading cause of hair loss in men, accounting for 95% of baldness.
Why Does Male Pattern Baldness Happen?
Hair loss in men can be blamed on any number of reasons. It could be an effect of serious diseases, medications, and sometimes even stress. Most of the time, however, heredity is to blame for male pattern baldness.
The hair follicles of men who suffer from MPB have a genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Synthesized from testosterone, DHT is a hormone responsible for the development of male characteristics, including hair and beard growth. Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT slowly become smaller. This shortens the lifespan of every hair follicle until they can no longer produce hair.
MPB usually begins at the temples and the mid-anterior scalp because these areas are most sensitive to DHT. Later on, it progresses towards the entire top scalp. In worse cases, even the remaining halo of hair can be affected.
When Does Male Pattern Baldness Usually Start?
The age when male pattern baldness starts to manifest its symptoms varies from person to person. It can start as early as a person’s teenage years and increases with age.
Studies show that 25% of men who experience the condition will start seeing symptoms before the age of 21. At 35 years old, about 66% of American men will have experienced some significant hair loss. By 50, around 85% of all men have prominently thinning hair.
What Are The Symptoms Of Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness typically begins at the temples and is accompanied by a gradually receding hairline. This typically causes the man’s hairline to recede in an “M” shape. At the same time, hair at the crown of the head starts to get thinner as well. This is one of the first and most noticeable symptoms of MPB.
In more severe cases, the hair at the crown of the head becomes finer, shorter, and thinner. A thin growth of hair is left around the sides of the head, creating a horseshoe-shaped pattern of hair.
However, some men might experience diffuse thinning—a type of hair loss that generally affects the entire scalp. In cases like these, baldness starts from the top or back of the head instead of the hairline.
In both cases, the hair slowly but noticeably thins. A good way to check is to take pictures every month and compare the current thickness of your hair to pictures taken a year ago.
Another obvious symptom of MPB is excessive hair loss when shampooing, brushing, or combing your hair.
On average, people lose about 100 strands of hair per day. Those four or five strands on your hands should not be a cause for concern.
However, if you wake up in the morning and notice a lot of loose hair on your pillow or you brush your hair and you see numerous strands caught in the comb’s teeth, then you might have a problem.
Temporary hair loss and excessive shedding for a day or two is normal. If it continues to happen for more than 2 weeks, then you might want to visit your doctor (and start kissing your thick-haired youth goodbye).
How Do You Treat Male Pattern Baldness?
Despite the numerous advances in medicine and technology, there has yet to be a real cure for baldness. The following are some of the treatments that help to either address or prevent the problem:
This is an expensive and invasive treatment that involves removing the hair from areas of the scalp that have active hair growth and transplanting to thinning or balding areas. Though it is permanent, the procedure carries a risk of scarring and infection.
This topical medication slows down the effects of MPB as it also stimulates hair follicles to grow new hair. It often takes four to twelve months to produce visible results and discontinuing use of the medication suddenly can also result in hair loss.
It also has possible side effects such as dryness, burning, irritation, and scaling of the scalp. Visit your doctor if you experience worse side effects such as weight gain, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the hands, ankles, face, and abdomen.
Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)
This oral medication is considered to be the more effective alternative to Minoxidil. It blocks the production of male hormones responsible for hair loss. It also produces results faster.
Unfortunately, finasteride also has some side effects such as depression, itching, hives, rash, breast tenderness, painful testicles and ejaculations, and difficulty getting an erection. Though rare, finasteride can also cause breast cancer.
Men with limited hair loss could also style their hair in such a way that it covers the areas with hair loss. Wigs and other hairpieces come in various natural colors and styles that could also help with MPB.
Those who experience anxiety, lowered self-esteem, and depression due to MPB can also opt to seek counseling.
Check out this video by Matt Dominance Hair Transplant:
At some point in their lives, male pattern baldness is experienced by almost every man. It can start manifesting as early as the teenage years. If you are experiencing MPB, there are numerous treatments for the condition. However, those treatments could have some nasty side effects. Give yourself some time to adjust to the inevitability of looking like your dad. Later on, embrace that bald head, maybe get that killer body and wear it like Dwayne Johnson.
Do you have other questions about male pattern baldness? Ask us in the comments section below!
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