It is mentally disturbing and painful for most men to see the baldness that is gradually developing on their scalp.
Present-day food habits and lifestyles anticipate the appearance of male pattern baldness in men at an earlier age, which is rampant as well.
The incidents of baldness estimated by the researchers at Palacky University in the Czech Republic suggest that nearly 30 % of men are affected by baldness by the age of 30 and 50% by 50.
Another study in Victoria, Australia, showed that over 73.5% of men in the 80-plus age category have baldness.
In this article, we will analyze the causes and treatment for male pattern baldness. We shall also discuss some of the popular myths on baldness that do not have any scientific backing, yet some correlations are noticed.
What is Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness (MPB), known as androgenic alopecia, starts at the hairline.
The backward rescission of the hairline characterizes the hairline, ly ‘M’ shape hair loss formation at the beginning. MPB at the advanced stages, the hair strands become shorter, finer, and thinner to create a ‘U’ shaped pattern of hair present only on the sides of the scalp/head.
This pattern of baldness will affect 70% of men in their lifetime.
Androgenic hair loss in men starts above the head’s vertex and temples or at the scalp’s calvaria.
The pattern of hair loss in men usually stops with the total loss of hair in the upper portions of the head, and a rim of hair will remain at the rear and sides of the head.
It is estimated that 40% of women will experience pattern baldness. Still, in most women, it is characterized by thinning and shortening of hair on the mid-frontal area of the scalp that may not result in complete hair loss, unlike in men.
What Causes Baldness?
Male pattern baldness is closely related to male sex hormones and the person’s genes.
The cause of baldness is the miniaturization of hair follicles by androgenic hormones, resulting in the shrinking of hair follicles.
As you already know, the hair follicle is a tiny cavity on the skin from which a hair strand grows and remains fixed.
The shrinking of the hair follicles leads to the shortening and thinning of hair, and then they eventually fall off. New hair does not grow from the shrunk follicle as it remains dormant.
Recent studies have shown that the scalp contains the stem cell progenitors from which the follicles arose. Transgenic studies have shown that the growth and dormancy of hair follicles are closely related to the activity of insulin-like growth factors at the dermal papillae, which are affected by dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Male sex hormone Androgen regulates the sebaceous glands, apocrine hair growth, and libido.
As a man ages, the androgen hormone suppresses the hair growth on the temples and scalp vertex, leading to baldness. However, this same hormone does not suppress the growth of facial hair. This paradoxical behavior of Androgen is because it has varied effects on different types of dermal papillae in follicles of the scalp and face. Several studies on these peculiar behaviors of androgen have been attributed to various reasons.
The balding is also because of genetic predisposition (diathesis). Since androgens and androgen receptors (AR) are the initiating cause of androgenic alopecia, their genetic corollaries are the subject of much research.
Without going into the scientific aspects of the genetic corollaries of baldness, it is commonly noticed that men whose fathers showed pattern hair loss are 2.5 times more likely to experience pattern baldness regardless of maternal genes. The maternal genes are essential because they predetermine the androgen receptor gene in the person, providing the possible diathesis for androgenic alopecia.
Baldness Cure and Treatments
An old Chinese adage says, ‘There is no cure for baldness and jealousy.’
The adage does not hold worthy now as several baldness cure solutions have come up in the recent past.
For a decade or two, hair transplantations have become very popular; it is considered a viable male pattern baldness treatment that is common now.
Let us look at some of the best ways for people to manage their baldness.
‘No’ Baldness Treatment
Most men prefer not to do any treatment for baldness as it is a sign of aging naturally. The best solution to manage baldness is accepting this physical condition and living with it happily.
Baldness condition is distressful and agonizing, especially for men who turn bald at a very young age. Turning bald after 50 is happily accepted by most men.
Since it does not cause pain or discomfort, there is no need to take up any baldness cure procedures. In some cultures, baldness is considered a sign of wisdom and maturity.
Currently, there are few popular medications available for a baldness cure. But none of them provide 100% re-growth of the hair. Let us have a look at three of the most popularly used medications:
This medicine is intended to block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, causing the hair follicles to shrink and become dormant. Finasteride is quite effective in delaying hair fall and helping the re-growth of hairs from dormant follicles.
Finasteride is an oral medication; usually, a 1mg dosage is to be consumed daily. It helps reduce the DTH produced by the 5-alpha-reductase type 2 enzymes by 85% or more. It helps protect the hair follicles from DHT damage. Please look at the FDA Safety guidelines on Finasteride before you use it.
It is a drug similar to the Finasteride used for baldness treatment. This oral medicine inhibits DHT production from 5ar-2 enzymes slightly better than Finasteride. However, this medicine is not approved by the FDA as a safe hair growth medicine as it can result in side effects that may even give rise to severe neurological issues.
It is an FDA-approved drug for male baldness treatment. Usually, it comes in lotion form that must be applied daily to the baldness-affected areas of the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles. Minoxidil (Rogaine) has worked for many men to slow down hair fall and bring about a noticeable improvement in hair growth.
It is NOT a preventive medicine that can stop further DTH damage to the hair follicles.
There are also study reports that when Minoxidil is combined with ketoconazole shampoo and spironolactone, it produces a better result in slowing down the baldness progress in promoting the growth of new hairs.
It must be noted that all these medications work best when they are used at the initial stages of androgenic alopecia. These treatments must also be continued regularly, not temporarily, for a few weeks or months.
Wigs And Hairpieces
Using wigs or hairpieces is one of the simplest ways to hide baldness. Of course, most men will prefer to avoid wearing a wig or hairpiece as it is less convincing and easily identifiable as false hair. It can also result in scars, infections, and scalp abscesses in some people.
Some people love to do tattoos and skin arts to hide baldness; others prefer to shave off the entire hair on the scalp and maintain a hairless scalp.
Another popular solution for baldness treatment is hair transplantation. More and more people are opting for hair transplantation as the recently developed advanced techniques are giving good results with these hair re-growth benefits.
Hair transplantation is done with the help of surgery on the scalp in which narrow strips of hair-bearing scalp are extracted from the back of the head and replanted as tiny grafts (in 1000s) in the areas of the scalp with thin or no hair.
The success rate of the hair transplant is 60%, with the possibility of new hair growth in six to nine months after the surgery.
Currently, the most advanced form of this treatment is done by transplanting follicular units (a group of 3 to 5 follicles); those units are surgically implanted in the scalp nearby and in large numbers. The implants of the tiny grafts are done by creating small incisions on the scalp without deep-cut surgery.
Certain pharmaceutical companies have developed laser therapies that activate the hair follicles to re-grow the hair. However, the success rate of this treatment has yet to be discovered, and further studies and developments on this method are still needed.
The Ayurvedic stream of herbal medicines (especially from India) has developed several natural baldness solutions. Those treatments are primarily for slowing down the hair fall rather than the re-growth of hairs on bald areas of the scalp. Oil-based solutions like coconut oil therapy and castor oil treatments are also used for hair growth and preventing hair fall.
Myths on Male Pattern Baldness
There are several myths about baldness. Every society in different parts of the globe has one or more false beliefs connected with the male pattern of baldness.
Many of these myths about baldness are related to one’s masculinity, intelligence, social class, job, wealth, etc.
Here are some of the common myths that do not have scientific evidence to back them.
- Baldness is inherited from the maternal grandfather
- Weight training and excessive sporting activities cause baldness as they increase testosterone levels
- Rigorous intellectual activities and psychological stress cause baldness
- Emotional stress and sleep deprivation cause androgenic alopecia
- Men who are virile or sexually active are prone to baldness.
- Baldness in men can be caused by frequent ejaculation.
Many of these myths do not have any scientific linkage; however, some correlation between them is noticed in some cases.
Male pattern baldness is a common issue that affects more than half of the men’s population by the age of 50.
A significant cause of male pattern baldness is the miniaturization of hair follicles by androgenic hormones. Hereditary factors and individual genes play a crucial role in the possibility of baldness in an individual.
Medications do not help prevent baldness but can help slow the growth rate and stimulate the follicles for the re-growth of hairs to a certain extent.
Most men do not prefer to have any treatment for baldness and gracefully accept it as an unavoidable physical condition.