Baldness can probably be considered as one of the many worries that trouble men as they age. Millions of men have come to accept the fact that they will indeed go bald at a certain age. This is because the hair we have only has a life span of about five years. Though we lose around 100 strands every day, we simply get to grow it back naturally at some point. Despite this natural cycle, there are men suffering from male baldness pattern, a condition where hair is lost gradually in different areas and does not really grow back. The hair loss can take some time to happen, and many men are clueless about this condition and do not notice it until they simply grow bald.
Normal Hair Loss
Numerous factors can be cited for hair loss in men. However, a man aged 20 to 45 years who begins to lose his hair may have fallen victim to the 95% possibility of experiencing male pattern baldness. This condition, as suggested by the term, follows a certain pattern or sequence of hair loss. It can start in many different areas of the scalp but typically it begins at men’s temples and/or on their crowns. The hair in these areas first grows thinner, then the condition eventually progresses to the top of head, and leads to total baldness.
Causes of Male Pattern Baldness
Although many men genetically have male pattern baldness, it is the hormones in their bodies that greatly affect their hair follicles. After puberty, males have high levels of testosterone, as well as 5-alpha-reductase enzymes that convert testosterone into dihydrotestosterone or DHT. It is DHT that has adverse effects on a man’s hair follicles. It slows down hair growth and also makes hair brittle, shorter and produces weaker hair strands. Most of the time, hair simply stops growing back from the follicles, making men suffer from baldness.
Male Pattern Baldness Stages
Baldness patterns are usually classified using a scale. In the 1950s, Dr. James Hamilton designed one to classify the male pattern baldness. This scale was modified in the 1970s by Dr. O’Tar Norwood, and the scale was eventually named after him. The basic patterns of baldness in the scale are described as follows:
Type I – Hair loss under this classification is very minimal.
Type II – There is minimal receding hairline at the temples and other areas.
Type III – This is the level on the scale where dermatologists usually diagnose male baldness pattern. Treatments will usually be suggested at this point, since the scalp suffers from deeper and more symmetrical recession that began at the temples. The areas affected at this level are bare or have little hair left.
Type III Vertex – There is hair loss that is different at the back of the head (vertex), usually with very minimal receding hairline.
Type IV – Hair loss at this level is commonly more extensive, where there is barely hair or no more hair on the back of the head. The receding hairline and the hair loss on the vertex are divided by a band of slightly dense hair extending across the top of the head that connects to the full hair on the sides of the scalp.
Type V – The hair at the back of the head is less distinct and hair loss in this area is separated from the frontal-temporal region. The band of hair on the crown is sparser and narrower at this level, while the fronto-temporal and vertex regions have more noticeable hair loss.
Type VI – The band of hair that crosses the crown is gone, with only some sparse hair left. The receding hair line and hair loss at the vertex have met, making the extent of hair loss even more noticeable.
Type VII – This is the most severe level of hair loss. There is very little or no more hair on the top of the head. The hair line in front is gone and only a very narrow band of hair remains on the back and sides of the scalp.
Treating Male Pattern Baldness
Although many men may seem comfortable with their baldness, there are also some who opt to disguise their hair loss by hair weaving, donning wigs or toupees, and changing their hair styles. These options are inexpensive and are the safest ways to hide bald spots. There are also men who prefer to get real treatment for their hair loss. The two major treatments available to treat male baldness patterns are:
1. Minoxidil (Rogaine) – Minoxidil is directly applied on the scalp in order to stimulate hair follicles. Men who use Minoxidil reported a decrease in hair loss and some were able to grow back new hair. However, continuous use is recommended since stopping Minoxidil treatments will lead back to hair loss.
2. Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) – Finasteride in pill form slows down the production of DHT hormones in men. Like Minoxidil, Finasteride slows down hair loss and is generally more effective since it inhibits the increase of DHT levels. Discontinuing Finasteride treatment will also lead to hair loss again.
Another option to treat male baldness pattern is to undergo a surgical hair transplant. This procedure entails removing hair follicles from the donor area of the scalp where there is still healthy hair growing and then “planting” them on the bald areas. However, there may be minor scarring and skin infection risks to deal with after the transplant. This treatment requires multiple sessions which are usually expensive. However, the results are usually permanent and excellent.