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Male pattern baldness-Causes, symptoms, treatments
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Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in men. It usually follows a typical pattern of receding hairline and hair thinning at the crown; this is primarily caused by hormones and genetic predisposition.

Causes of male pattern baldness?

Most men suffering from premature hair loss are genetically predisposed to androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness occurs due to the action of testosterone - the primary male sex hormone - on your hair follicles. Present in high amounts after puberty, testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) because of 5-alpha reductase - an enzyme present in your body. Working on the hormone receptors present in your hair follicles, DHT retards the production of scalp hair and produces shorter and weaker hair, and sometimes prevents hair growth completely. This is a gradual process which eventually results in total or partial hair loss.

Since male pattern baldness is largely a genetic condition, the negative effects of DHT and testosterone on your hair growth will be determined by your genetic inheritance from both sides of the family. It is thus possible to know the extent of hair loss you are likely to suffer by studying your family’s tendency to baldness. This is important so that you are able to predict the pattern and course of your baldness and seek appropriate medical treatment to minimize the inevitable loss of hair.

Symptoms of male pattern baldness

The typical process of male pattern baldness usually starts at the hairline, which recedes in the form of an 'M' shape. Your existing hair also tends to become thinner and finer in quality. The hair on your crown starts thinning until it meets your hairline, leaving behind a horseshoe pattern at your temples. Male pattern hair loss is also characterized by patchy and diffused hair loss, breakage of hair shafts, and is sometimes accompanied by scaling, redness or pain.

Who does male pattern hair loss affect?

You suffer from male pattern hair loss when specific areas on your scalp are hyper-sensitive to testosterone present in your body. These hormones make your hair follicles shrink gradually till they become too small to have the ability to replace lost hair. These hair follicles are alive but totally incapable of doing their job. This condition usually affects genetically predisposed men between the ages of 20-30. The pattern and amount of hair loss you experience varies greatly, ranging from conditions such as androgenetic alopecia (also known as alopecia androgenetica), alopecia areata (involving a certain amount of hair loss), alopecia totalis (complete hair loss from your head) and alopecia universalis (complete hair loss from your head and the rest of the body).

Male pattern hair loss treatment options

Although, it cannot be completely cured, there are a number of non-surgical treatments for male pattern hair loss. You need to choose a treatment based on the degree and pattern of hair loss you suffer from. Non-surgical hair replacement therapy simulates the natural appearance of hair and offers enhanced density of overall hair. Surgical hair transplants use micro-grafting for creating a natural-looking hairline. There are a number of medications such as prescription Propecia that help in promoting hair growth and preventing further hair loss. You can also opt for laser hair replacement therapy to regain lost hair.

By John Linney
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