Androgenic alopecia or male pattern balding is progressive hair loss that affects adult men. It is caused by a combination of hormones & genetic predisposition. The hair loss begins with hair follicles shrinking, causing the hair to become thinner and shorter in diameter. Early & effective intervention by a dermatologist will effectively halt progression & in most cases regrow your hair.
- Male pattern baldness is a progressive & permanent hair loss condition
- It is caused by hormones (dihydrotestosterone) & genetics
- The hair loss starts at the temples, or the crown of the head and the hair starts receding backward.
- The pattern of hair loss helps dermatologists diagnose male pattern baldness.
- Treatment options include minoxidil, androgen blockers, Growth factor injections, lasers, & hair transplants
- Early intervention will halt progression & in most cases result in regrowth
- Our dermatologists are world experts in treating hair loss & will guide you through the possible treatment options
Male Pattern Hair Loss at a glance
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Let’s jump straight into it. Your dermatologist will prescribe medically proven medication & procedures to stop hair loss & regrow your hair naturally. The earlier you start treatment, the better the results. Our go to method is as follows-
- Topical Minoxidil +/- retinoic acid. Strength varies from 5 to 8%. Retinoic acid may increase penetration of minoxidil, but it’s not for everyone. Another option is oral minoxidil
- Oral DHT blockers such as finasteride or dutasteride
- Autologous Growth factor injections or platelet rich plasma. 3-4 sessions followed by maintenance
Read more to understand why we prescribe what we prescribe
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss in men. It causes diffuse thinning of the hair and balding and affects men mostly over 50 years old.
It is usually found in the mid-frontal area, commonly starting from the top and the front of the head, and it is known to be a progressive condition. The causes of male pattern baldness can be a combination of hormones, known as androgens, and some genetic predisposition.
Male pattern baldness also has a similar type in women, and it is known as female pattern hair loss, which also results in hair thinning in the mid frontal area of the scalp, but it is less severe than male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of factors, including hormones and genes. One of the key hormones in this condition is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is derived from the testosterone hormone, this hormone can alter the hair follicle and hair growth cycles.
Dihydrotestosterone decreases the growth phase (anagen) in some hair follicles in the scalp, resulting in thinner, shorter, and lighter hair until the follicle loses its ability to grow hair and shrinks.
Genetic predisposition also plays a major part, as male pattern baldness can be inherited from either or both parents. The genes can account for the hair loss onset, pattern, and severity.
There are also some serious causes of male pattern baldness, such as certain cancers, medications, some anabolic steroids, and thyroid problems. Your dermatologist may perform other exams and review your medical history if they suspect other causes.
While genes affect the chances of getting male pattern baldness, almost all men will experience it at some point in their lives, as most men experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 50 and almost 80% by the age of 70.
If you are experiencing hair loss at the temples or the crown of your head, or if your hair loss is receding backward in the form of an “M” shape, this could mean you may have male pattern baldness.
Some cases also have a circular area on the back of the head that thins and gets bigger in size. Over time, the hair gets thinner and finer and creates a U-shaped pattern around the head.
Dermatologists can diagnose male pattern baldness based on the pattern of hair loss, while also ruling out other conditions. Hair loss accompanied by patches, redness, or pain can mean other conditions such as inflammatory or infectious causes.
Rarely, nutritional disorders like iron deficiency or heavy metal toxicity can increase the rate of hair loss, while also being misdiagnosed as male pattern baldness. Your doctor may ask for blood tests or a biopsy to rule out any other hair loss problems.
Although there is no cure for male pattern baldness, the hair loss may slow down eventually and stop. Hair loss may only be a cosmetic issue, however there are effective medical & cosmetic solutions.
When applying 5% minoxidil, whether liquid or foam, to the scalp, it can help hair growth and restore some hair. It is also important to only apply and massage the minoxidil to the affected area, not the entire head.
Minoxidil can cause some side effects on the area applied to it, like dryness, redness, scaling, and/or itchiness. It should also be applied for at least 6 months to notice any change in the hair loss. However, minoxidil remains effective as long as it is being used, and its benefits will disappear when you stop using it.
The treatment may first cause increased hair fall in the first few weeks of treatment, but then the hair starts to grow.
Our dermatologists have extensive experience in the treatment of male pattern baldness. We employ platelet derived technology, stem cell therapy as well as low level lasers to regrow hair.
Minoxidil can also be taken orally. This has some advantages including compliance & reduced scalp irritation (as topical formulations often contain propylene glycol & alcohol).
Side effects are infrequent but include dizziness (as this may drop blood pressure) & swollen feet. Your dermatologist will guide you accordingly.
Finasteride, which is an oral tablet, is also found to decrease levels of dihydrotestosterone hormone and successfully reduce hair loss by 80-90% in male pattern baldness. In some cases, finasteride can also induce hair regrowth.
Dutasteride works by the same mechanism as finasteride, but it is shown to be more effective.
It can take about 6 months to see the results while taking finasteride tablets every day. Same as minoxidil, if you stop the drug, the hair will start to fall again. It can be paired with minoxidil for better results.
The side effects of finasteride may include depression, itching, decreased libido, and erectile problems.
Many laser devices can be used today to decrease hair loss and induce new hair growth in male pattern baldness. You need to consult your doctor before buying or using laser devices to make sure they are effective. The 3 main devices are-
- Fractional lasers including thulium 1927
- LLED or low-level laser emission devices, in clinic
- Home use LED therapy
Yes, platelet-rich plasma therapy can be a good option. Your dermatologist will draw a small amount of blood and use a device to separate plasma from other blood components, then inject it into your scalp to stimulate hair growth.
Frequent injections are required to stop hair loss, but after a few months, your scalp will start to produce thicker, healthier hair. As a guide 3-4 sessions are recommended, followed by maintenance therapy. Spacing for the initial sessions are monthly, thereafter stepping out to 4-6 months.
Cutis Dermatology has 3 hair experts: Dr Esh, Dr Heba & Dr Sarath. They are all proficient in this procedure.
A hair transplant is considered the permanent solution to male pattern baldness. They give a natural, fuller look to the scalp. However, it is an expensive solution, and you may need several sessions according to your degree of hair loss. There are two main types of hair transplants, discussed below.
Strip harvesting: a strip of donor tissue is taken from the back of the scalp. Donor hairs are harvested then implanted in areas of recession. The main disadvantage of strip harvesting is the noticeable scar measuring 11 to 14 cm.
FUE or follicular unit extraction is the most common method of hair restoration. Donor hair follicles are extracted from the back of head under local anaesthesia. On the day of surgery, the entire donor area from the back of the head is trimmed to 1–2 mm length. The major advantage of this method is that there is no linear scarring from harvesting.
Wigs and hairpieces can be used to camouflage hair loss, and some natural wigs give a natural look that can be styled as wanted.
There are also skin sprays and scalp tattoos (Micropigmentation) that give the look of a shaved head. Sprays are not permanent and need to be applied frequently while scalp tattooing for a permanent look
It is still unknown how to prevent male pattern baldness apart from medical therapy as discussed. You can decrease stress levels. Early management of hair loss will reduce your anxiety levels.
Protecting your bald area from the sun by using sunscreen can also prevent any scalp damage from the sun.
Male pattern baldness is not an easy process, and some cases may need psychological help in dealing with hair loss as it could cause anxiety, low self-esteem, or other emotional problems. Your doctor may suggest group therapy sessions or give you the best treatment choice for your appearance.
While male pattern baldness is permanent, it eventually stops or slows down on its own, but it can cause more psychological and emotional problems like depression or anxiety.