Many consider hair as the crowning glory. Being able to show off shiny, healthy hair will boost one’s confidence. With so many hair-care products sold in the market today, those who experience hair loss may feel dejected for not being able to style their hair the way they want to. However, understanding that hair loss is not a disease can help you to get through the phase of hair loss easier. What was once seemed as undesirable and even embarrassing is now accepted as a natural cause.
Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) is known as androgen tic alopecia. It is commonly caused by increased sensitivity to male hormones, the androgens, in certain parts of the scalp. Hair follicles convert testosterone into another hormone known as the dihydrotestosterone or DHT. The DHT hormone shrinks hair follicles, making affected hair follicles on the scalp to gradually become smaller. When the follicle shrinks, each new hair that grows is thinner and finer than the one before.
It is not clear why affected hair follicles are more sensitive to DHT that causes them to shrink further. This process, which is known as “miniaturization”, happens when the male hormone DHT is acting on hair follicles causes them to become smaller and eventually disappear. In the long run, all that is left is much smaller hair follicles and stumps of hair that doesn’t grow out of the scalp surface.
The dihydrotestosterone is formed when the enzyme 5-a reeducates is acting on the testosterone, the hormone that causes sex characteristics in men. Other than shrinking the hair follicles, the DHT also shortens the hair growth, or Anlagen, phase of the hair cycle. The hormone that is believed to have direct consequences on hair loss is DHT rather than testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone binds itself to special receptor sites on the hair follicle cells and cause specific changes that lead to balding.
Many believe that baldness is inherited from the maternal side of the family. But this is not always true as it can actually be inherited from either parent. It’s just that there are factors on the X-chromosome that shown to have influenced hair loss, it makes the inheritance of hair loss from the maternal side is slightly more important than the paternal side.
However, the presence of genes and hormones alone are not sufficient to cause total baldness. Even when a person reached his puberty, susceptible hair follicles still must be continually exposed to the hormone over a long period of time before hair loss can occur. The age where this condition finally makes its way through varied to different person. A person’s genetic makeup as well as the level of testosterone in his bloodstream usually influences it.
Aging is also a factor although it’s not a definite contributor. Hair loss condition can and usually starts in men aged between 20 and 30 and continue to follow a gradual pattern in Male Pattern Baldness (MPB).
Time factor in hair loss is another cause that is often misunderstood. Male hair loss seldom happens all at one or in a steady, gradually increasing linear progression. Hair loss is cyclic. Men who are going through hair loss experience their condition in alternating periods of slow and rapid hair loss as well as stability in shedding them. Many of the reasons that hair loss alternates between slow and rapid loss are currently unknown. However, for now, it’s safe for us to know that a person’s hair volume tend to decrease with age.
There are few types of hair loss:
- Sudden hair loss – Though not many believe this to be accurate, but there have been cases where emotional and/or physical trauma can trigger sudden hair loss. The shock can cause deluge effluvium, a condition that makes hair stop growing and fall out
- Steady hair loss – In order to sustain rapid growth, hair follicles require a steady infusion of nutrients. Should you shed more than usual for the past few months, it’s a good idea to take a look at your diet to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients to “feed” your hair growth
- Round, smooth patch – If you have a silver-dollar size spot on your head, it is most likely alopecia aerate. No definite cause is known for this condition but stress and genetics are usually main contributing factors. In addition, the sensitivity to DHT is also known to cause this where the less susceptible hair follicles will be at the front, top and crown of the scalp, producing that telltale pattern. This condition usually begins with the receding hairline from the temples and thinning of the crown. It will usually progress into complete hair loss, leaving just a strip of hair around the back and the sides of the scalp
- Round scaly patch – This is a sign of fungal infection, known as the tine capitals. Due to the sensitivity to DHT, your body combats it by producing white blood cells that harm hair follicles.
Although you have come to accept that male baldness is natural and not a disease, there are some medications sold over the counter to hamper hair loss and even some to stimulate hair growth.
Here are some examples of cures for Male Pattern Baldness:
- For steady hair loss, you can try to improve your diet. Not getting enough iron, biotin, or zinc can “starve” your hair, causing it to be limp and eventually fall off. You can eat more broccoli, spinach and eggs. You can also take multivitamin supplement to promote healthy hair growth
- If you have the round smooth patch caused by affected hair follicles, you can see a dermatologist for corticosteroid injections to reduce the inflammation that cause your hair to hibernate after the follicles are shrunk
- For tinea capitis, you can purchase anti-fungal shampoos that are sold over the counter. If you feel that is not effective, you can try to take prescription antifungal medication such as Lamisil
- Minoxidil lotion (trade name Regaine® mild or Regaine® extra strength) – This ointment is applied twice a day to the scalp. Although it was first manufactured for as treatment for high blood pressure, it causes hair growth as side effect. In the case of hair loss, this has proved to be useful for re-growth
- Finasteride (Propecia®) – This tablet medication is taken to partially block the effects of the male hormone (anti-androgens)
Whether you are experiencing hair loss due to genetics or aging, you can always be sure that hair loss doesn’t need to affect your appearance. Learning to accept it as part of your bodily changes will go a long way in restoring your confidence.