The Science Behind Male Pattern Baldness Hair Loss

If your receding hairline has you worried, you may want to learn more about male hair loss. A large portion of men will experience hair loss or male pattern baldness, so you're certainly not alone. Read on to learn the cause of your hair loss and what you can do about it.

What causes male hair loss?
There are several different kinds of classic male hair loss. One is called male pattern baldness because the hair loss tends to start on the hairline and follows a predictable pattern. Hair on the top of the head begins to thin, then disappears; soon a characteristic band of hair is all that's left. The hair remaining is usually thin and does not grow as quickly as it did before.

The cause of male pattern baldness is a reaction to a byproduct of the testosterone in your bloodstream. For some reason, men of a particular heredity have are overly sensitive to DHT, which is a byproduct of testosterone. The DHT actually attacks and destroys the hair follicles in certain portions of the scalp, resulting in hair loss.

The other common hair loss condition is androgenic alopecia. This is when the scalp responds to hair growth as if it something foreign and rejects the hair, almost as if it was having an allergic reaction the hair growth. This has to do with an autoimmune system response and can be localized in one spot, usually on the top of the scalp.

Both of these conditions are inherited and are quite similar in that both are treated the same and result in the same thing: baldness or thinning hair. Both can be passed down through either side of the family, so a propensity for hair loss can be transferred through your mother or your father.

There are other, more rare causes of hair loss men should be aware of. Sometimes men with medical conditions such as thyroid conditions, anemia or Lupus may experience hair loss. 

Hair loss prevention
Hair loss is progressive, so once it begins, it will most likely continue. That being said, not all men who have receding hairlines will end up with the classic u-shape bald spots. Different men have different balding patterns, and some are more severe than others.

Hair loss typically begins in a man's twenties or thirties. The earlier your hair begins to thin and your hairline begins to recede, the more likely it is that you will lose a significant portion of your hair, though that is not always the case. 

There isn't any way to permanently prevent hair loss, but there are ways to stimulate new hair growth and to halt hair loss by using medication.

Hair loss solutions
There are many ways to deal with hair loss. Probably the best way to start is to remind yourself that a large portion of the male population is also dealing with this issue, so you are not unusual or unique. It may also help to remember this is a natural part of life. How you respond to your hair loss is up to you.

Get a short hair cut. One of the easiest solutions to hair thinning and loss is to get a very short cut, which means the thinning parts of your hair will not drastically stand out.  The remaining hair will appear thicker and it will not be so obvious that parts of your scalp are balding. Lots of men take this route and just get used to enjoying very short hair.

Go bald. Another solution that has become both fashionable and popular is to shave your head. You may want to get some help the first few times you shave to make sure you do not nick your scalp (shaving your whole head takes getting used to), but you may find you love being clean-shaven. It's a bold move, but one that will surely be appreciated by many.

Try a topical medication. Topical lotions containing Minoxidil can be applied to your scalp twice daily.  Minoxidil is actually a medication used to reduce blood pressure that has a surprising side effect: it promotes hair growth. Over half the patients who use a lotion containing Minoxidil see positive results of varying degrees. However, the results stop as soon as you stop using the product. Rogaine is the only topical product containing Minoxidil that has passed FDA approval so far, but there are other products on the market that also contain this drug.

Pop a pill. The FDA has also approved an oral medication called Propecia, which partially blocks the effects of DHT. It also used by men who need to reduce the size of their prostate gland. Propecia is reported to halt hair loss and promote growth of new hair.  It takes about 3-6 months to begin working and will stop working as soon as you stop taking it. This is a prescription drug.

Get a hair transplant. This is where a surgeon transplants hair from a non-sensitive part of your scalp to the top of your scalp. This works best for men whose hair loss is concentrated in the front of the scalp. Once the transplanted hair falls out, no new growth replaces it, so this is a rather expensive and temporary solution. Many factors limit the effectiveness of this procedure, including age, hair texture and the nature of hair loss involved.

Try a scalp reduction or a flap-surgical procedure. This is where the scalp tissue that is sensitive is removed, and the scalp tissue that is not sensitive to HDT is expanded, covering a small bald spot on the top of the head. This only works if the area of baldness is very small.  

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