Baldness or male patter hair loss (also called androgenic alopecia) is the most common cause of male hair loss. Baldness effects one in every two Australian men by the time they turned 50 years of age. Hair loss can begin any time after puberty and affects people in different ways. The important thing to remember is that hair loss does not influence your physical well being. However, if it starts to affect the way you look at and feel about yourself talk to your doctor or pharmacist about available treatments, and which is best for you.


Normal hair cycle

Hair growth begins in the hair follicles. Blood vessels supply the follicles with the nutrients they need to manufacture healthy hair. Hair is formed by a splitting up of the cells in the bottom of the follicle. After a hair is formed, it grows up from the stem of the follicle. Once hair is shed, the new one takes its place.

 

Each hair lives for about five years before it sheds. A replacement hair normally takes its place within six months. it is normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs each day. The difference between men with pattern hair loss and those who keep their hair is that balding men don't always get a replacement hair for the one that is shed.


What causes mate male pattern hair loss?


Hormones

Male pattern boldness depends on the presence of male hormones. The most well known male hormone is testosterone. Testosterone can be converted into a more active hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by an enzyme found in skin cells and hair follicles called 5-alpha reductase. Men with male pattern hair loss have high levels of DHT in their skin. This hormone shortens the growth phase of the normal hair cycle. The follicle also produces weaker, shorter hair and may stop making scalp hair altogether.


Genes.

Hair loss at a young age is passed through families. Baldness can be inherited from either your mother's or your father's side of the family.


Age

Age is another important factor. As men grow older, the likelihood of suffering male pattern hair loss increases.


Symptoms:

- receding front hairline.

- Bold spot on the crown of the head.

- Complete loss of hair on top of the head.

A dermatologist may take a hair sample examine it under a microscope to determine what may have caused the balding. If the skin is irritated or unhealthy looking they may take a skin biopsy and analyse a portion of the scalp to determine what type of hair loss the patient has.


Treatment options

There is no cure for male pattern hair loss but it can be treated. For those who want to treat hair loss options include:


 Cosmetic measures.

  • Camouflage - these treatments dye the scalp the same colour as the hair and make the hair appear thicker
  • Wigs - modern wigs provide excellent coverage and look natural.


Drug therapies

  • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. Use has been shown to stop hair loss and may actually reverse the balding process. It normally takes at least three months to see any results. (prescription only)
  • Minoxidil is considered a hair loss prevention drug. The drug is in liquid form and rubbed onto the balding areas. It takes about 4 months of using minoxidil to see any obvious effect. You might have some hair loss for the first couple of weeks as hair follicles in the resting phase are stimulated to move to the growth phase. You need to keep using minoxidil to maintain its effect – once you stop treatment the scalp will return to its previous state of hair loss within 3 to 4 months. The most common side effects of minoxidil include a dry, red and itchy scalp. Higher-strength solutions are more likely to cause scalp irritation. It is available over the counter – so have a talk with our pharmacist.


Both treatments must be continuous to prevent further hair loss.


 Surgical options.

  • Hair transplants - tiny plugs of hair from the back or side of the scalp are transported to the bald spots. The transplanted hair can take several months to start regrowing in their new position.
  • Scalp reduction -  the skin on the scalp is stretched and surgically removed. After the loose skin is removed, the hairy areas on either side of the head are stretched over and sewn together.
  • Tissue expansion - tiny balloons are implanted on the scalp between areas with thick hair. Over a two to three month period they are blowing up. Then the area was removed, as in the scalp reduction procedure, and the sides are pulled up to the top of the head.


Female Pattern Baldness

Females can also suffer with pattern baldness, also called androgenetic alopecia. It’s similar to male pattern baldness. The pattern of hair loss is different in women compared to men (women tend not to have a receding hairline), and complete baldness is rare in women.


Hair loss in women is normal, especially as you age. Up two thirds of women experience hair loss after menopause. Less than half of women will make it past age 65 with a full head of hair.


Most women with female pattern hair loss (FPHL) are thought to have inherited the condition from one or both of their parents. However, some women with FPHL do not have a family history of this condition. It’s more common after menopause, so hormones are likely responsible. Women can use Minoxidil to treat their baldness but can’t take 5-Alpha Reductase inhibitors.

Male Pattern Baldness

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