Male pattern hair loss also called androgenetic alopecia is a very distressing problem among men, even more so in younger men. In Indian men, studies have shown the prevalence of 58% of men between 30 to 50 yrs of age affected by androgenetic alopecia.
How would you distinguish between normal hair fall and androgenetic alopecia?
Let’s understand the normal hair cycle and hair fall – each hair has 3 phases – a resting phase, a growing phase and a shedding phase. So almost all hair falls out after a certain period and is replaced by new hair. As this does not happen with all the hair together, the hair fall is not prominent. On an average – hair fall of 50 to 100 hair a day is considered normal.
If you experience sudden hair loss and more than normal hair fall, it could be due to an underlying systemic condition or illness which needs to be diagnosed and treated and is reversible.
However, male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia is a typical pattern of baldness seen in men. Seen initially with a receding hairline which goes on further increasing over to the vertex and rarely beyond the vertex as well.
Causes of male pattern hair loss?
Testosterone is a male hormone which is responsible for hair growth on different parts of the body. testosterone acts differently on different organs including the hair follicles. In some people, hair follicles are more sensitive to testosterone. This makes the hair thinner and shorter in each cycle and ultimately leads to balding. This sensitivity can be genetic and runs in the family. If your parents or even 2nd-degree relatives have had male pattern balding, you are likely to get affected.
FDA approved Medications – Minoxidil – Minoxidil is a topical solution for the scalp. 1ml Minoxidil lotion applied to the scalp
causes increased blood supply to the follicles, therefore more nourishment to the hair follicles.
It takes 3 to 6 months for results to appear. for best results, it should be continued indefinitely to preserve hair growth
Finasteride – Finasteride is an oral drug taken only on prescription. It works by blocking the Dihydrotestosteronee the male hormone responsible for shrinking the hair follicles.
Discuss the treatment option and side-effects of this drug for you with your dermatologist.
Other treatments –
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) – the platelets separated from your blood by centrifugation is then injected into the scalp to stimulate and nourish the hair follicles. 6 to 8 sessions of PRP will help in improving the hair growth.
Watch video for PRP treatment here.
Autologous stem cell injections – stem cell therapy although a new treatment option has been effective for androgenetic alopecia.
Stem cells are cells that have the potency to develop into different types of cells. They can divide and regenerate into different types of cells. A specialised method is used to separate your stem cells in a suspension which is then injected into the scalp.
Both these treatments are comfortable procedures and are done under local anaesthesia. The procedure is quick and effective with zero downtime.
LLLT – low-level light therapy is a form of light treatment. The low energy light stimulates the hair follicles. The stimulation of the cells in the hair follicle pushes the cells into the growth phase of the hair cycle.
Surgical treatment –
Hair transplantation –
Hair transplant involves harvesting hair follicles from the back of the head or any hairy area and placing them in the bald areas. The surgeon will remove wither a strip or just plugs from the donor site and implant into the inactive follicles.
If the 1st and 2nd line of treatment options fail to show results, hair transplantation should be considered.
Hair weaving or wigs are options if you don’t want to undergo any treatment or in case of unsatisfied results from the above treatments.