Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness (MPB) is by far the most common form of hair loss in men. It usually follows a pattern of receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown, and is caused by hormones and genetic predisposition. Baldness occurs when the hair follicle shrinks over time, resulting in shorter and finer hair. Eventually, the follicle does not grow new hair.
MPB typically starts at the hairline, with receding at the temples, followed by thinning at the crown region of the scalp. Some men experience thinning at the crown sooner than the receding process, but the majority of men recede first.
The rate of MPB can be effectively measured through the Norwood Hamilton scale (see below), which starts from 1 and ends in 6+. Baldness is said to be irreversible once a man has exceeded Norwood 4. Treatments are available for men experiencing early stages of hair loss (Norwood 1-4).
Causes of MPB include: genetics; stress; malnutrition; high testosterone levels. The balding process is mainly due to genetics, but that does not mean a man is likely to lose his hair if his father did. Scientists are still researching the subject in order to get a clearer understanding of the full causes.
The only two FDA approved treatments for hair loss are:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine/Regaine), a solution that is applied directly to the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles. It slows hair loss for many men, and some men grow new hair. Hair loss returns when you stop using this medicine.
- Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar), a pill that interferes with the production of a highly active form of testosterone that is linked to baldness. It slows hair loss. It works slightly better than minoxidil. Hair loss returns when you stop using this medicine.
Hair transplants consist of removing tiny plugs of hair from areas where the hair is continuing to grow and placing them in areas that are balding. This can cause minor scarring and possibly, infection. The procedure usually requires multiple sessions and may be expensive.
Natural hair supplements are the most popular form of hair treatments, as they are affordable and have no risk of side-effects. Topical solutions like foams, shampoos and serums are also popular, but there is no scientific study that confirms if these are effective for treating thinning hair.