Male pattern hair loss, a.k.a. Androgenic alopecia, affects all men to varying degrees as they age and is the most common reason for hair loss in men. More than fifty percent of men fifty years and older will experience male pattern baldness to some degree.
Each strand of your hair sticks out of a tiny hole called a follicle. Those follicles can shrink over time causing the hair to become finer and shorter. It will eventually stop growing hair at all, though the follicle itself remains alive which suggests it’s still possible for it to grow new hair.
The common causes of male pattern baldness are related to genetics and male sex hormones. Research is showing that male pattern baldness is connected to male sex hormones called androgens which have many functions, one of which is the regulation of hair growth. The most important androgen for males is testosterone which is converted by the body into a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
If you have a family history of male pattern baldness, its likely to you will have inherited the genes that make hair follicles more sensitive to DHT which results in the follicle shrinking as mentioned above. Inherited male pattern baldness only affects the scalp and usually has no side effects. It is, however, essential to know that hair loss can have more serious causes. Certain thyroid conditions, medications, cancers, and anabolic steroids. You should consult your doctor if the hair loss occurs after starting new medications or if it is accompanied by other health complaints.
The pattern of the hair loss is used to diagnose male pattern baldness. Doctors will use your medical history and an exam to rule out any other health conditions as the cause, such as nutritional disorders or fungal conditions of the scalp. There may be other health concerns when there is a rash or redness, when you experience pain, peeling of the scalp, or patchy hair loss not in the usual pattern. Your doctor may want to perform a skin biopsy and blood tests to diagnose possible disorders responsible for the hair loss.
While it’s possible for male pattern baldness to begin in your teenage years, it is more common in adult men, and the likelihood increases with age. If your hair loss begins at the crown of the head or at your temples, you could have male pattern baldness. Some men may lose hair in a single spot. Other men may experience their hairlines receding from the front to form the “M” shape. The hairline may continue receding until most or all of the hair is gone.
Medical treatment won’t be necessary if the hair loss isn’t caused by other health issues. There are, however, available treatments for men who are unhappy and would prefer the appearance of a fuller head of hair.