What Is Male Pattern Baldness?

Male pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in men. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), more than 50 percent of all men over the age of 50 will be affected by male pattern baldness to some extent

What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?

One cause of male pattern baldness is genetics, or having a family history of baldness. Research has found that male pattern baldness is associated with male sex hormones called androgens. The androgens have many functions including regulating hair growth.

Each hair on your head has a growth cycle. With male pattern baldness, this growth cycle begins to weaken and the hair follicle shrinks, producing shorter and finer strands of hair. Eventually, the growth cycle for each hair ends and no new hair grows in its place.

Inherited male pattern baldness usually has no medical ill effects. However, sometimes baldness has more serious causes, such as certain cancers, medications, thyroid conditions, and anabolic steroids. See your doctor if hair loss occurs after taking new medications or when it’s accompanied by other health complaints.

Doctors use the pattern of hair loss to diagnose male pattern baldness. They may perform a medical history and exam to rule out certain health conditions as the cause, such as fungal conditions of the scalp or nutritional disorders. Health conditions may be a cause of baldness when a rash, redness, pain, peeling of the scalp, hair breakage, patchy hair loss, or an unusual pattern of hair loss accompanies the hair loss. A skin biopsy and blood tests also may be necessary to diagnose disorders responsible for the hair loss.

Who Is at Risk?

Male pattern baldness can begin in your teenage years, but it more commonly occurs in adult men, with the likelihood increasing with age. Genetics plays a big role. Men who have close relatives with male pattern baldness are at a higher risk. This is particularly true when their relatives are on the maternal side of the family.

Am I Losing My Hair?

If your hair loss begins at the temples or the crown of the head, you may have male pattern baldness. Some men will get a single bald spot. Others experience their hairlines receding to form an “M” shape. In some men, the hairline will continue to recede until all or most of the hair is gone.

Techniques to Address Hair Loss

Hair Transplants

A hair transplant is the most helpful and permanent  treatment for hair loss. Hair transplants work by removing hair from areas of the scalp that have active hair growth and transplanting them to thinning or balding areas of your scalp. Multiple treatments are often necessary, and the procedure carries the risk of scarring and infection. The advantages of a hair transplant are that it looks more natural and it’s permanent.

Counseling

Going bald can be a big change. You may have trouble accepting your appearance. You should seek counseling if you experience anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, or other emotional problems because of male pattern baldness.

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