Baldness is a condition in which the person suffers from hair loss. In men, this condition is known as 'male pattern baldness' or 'androgenic alopecia' in which the hair is lost in a well-defined pattern. The hair thins near the top of the head, and the hairline recedes to form a typical 'M' shape leading to partial or complete baldness. This baldness pattern develops in most men at some stage in their lives. It affects about 25% of men in their 20s and two-thirds of all men after the age of 60. It takes nearly 15 to 20 years to go completely bald, whereas in some cases, people go bald in just 5 years. The hair loss pattern in women differs from androgenic alopecia. In them, the hair present all over the head becomes thin, but the hairline does not recede. It is generally associated with an increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome.
Hair is made up of hair follicles that are small sacks present under the skin's surface. It is from these sacks that the hair grows for about 3 years, after which they shed and new ones appear. This process of hair growth, shedding, and new growth continues throughout the life. Some specific characteristics observed when men undergo baldness are:
- The hair follicles that are affected become smaller in size in comparison to the normal size.
- The emerging new hair are thinner, as the follicles reduce in size.
- The new hair falls pretty quickly, which otherwise normally takes around 3 years of time to fall.
- Only a thin stump of hair and smaller hair follicles are left.
These changes are caused by the male hormones, especially testosterone. Generally, the level of testosterone in people who go bald is normal, but for some reasons, their affected hair follicles become sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone formed by testosterone that causes hair follicles to shrink. Androgenic alopecia in men has been linked with several other medical conditions, such as coronary heart disease, enlargement of prostate, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure as well. Other factors that can be responsible are heredity problems and age.
'No treatment' for androgenic alopecia may sound a little out of place, but those who do not take any treatment are the ones most happy and satisfied. Turning bald is a normal aging process in most men. There is nothing to be worried about. Only those who find baldness distressing should go in for treatments.
There are two most prominent medicines that help in countering baldness and promoting hair growth. One is finasteride, commonly known by its trade name Propecia and the other is minoxidil, commonly known by its trade name Rogaine. Finasteride, an oral medicine, works by hampering the production of DHT from testosterone. The results are not immediately visible. It takes about 4 months to a year to notice any hair growth. On the other hand, minoxidil is a rub-on treatment that you need to apply on the scalp. People who have used it say that it simply delays the process of balding.
This treatment is quite expensive, and the success rate varies. Therefore, it's not very popular. Consultation with a specialist is necessary before undergoing such a treatment. Some of the techniques that come under it are hair transplantation, scalp flaps, etc.
If none of the above options work and you are skeptical about undergoing a scalp surgery, do not be in distress because there is still a traditional solution for it and that is wearing wigs.
No one wants to go bald. Hair are an important feature of our body that determine our looks and fashion sense. It is advisable to exercise regularly and eat healthy to avoid hair loss, and in case you are afflicted with male pattern baldness, embrace it and flaunt your unique style boldly.
Disclaimer: This MenWit article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.