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What is Male Pattern Baldness?

By: Philip Drachman - Updated: 21 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Male Pattern Baldness Mpb Androgenetic

A receding hairline is perfectly normal and part of hair's natural growth cycle. Your hair grows in cycles ranging from two to six years, after which time the follicles shed the hair and pass into a resting phase which lasts for about three months. This is followed by a new hair growth cycle. It is common to lose between 50 and 150 hairs daily from such hair shedding, and these hairs are replaced by the growth of new hairs. At any time about 90% of your hair is in the growing phase and about 10% is in the resting phase (read our article What is the Normal Cycle of Hair Loss and Regrowth?).

Male Hair Loss

Unlike the normal hair loss and growth cycle, with Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) – alternatively called androgenetic alopecia or hereditary-pattern baldness – hair loss follows a defined loss pattern beginning above the temples, and over time the hairline recedes to form a typical "M" shape and the crown thins out near the top of the head. This often leads to partial or complete baldness on top of the scalp, leaving only a horseshoe pattern of hair in more advanced stages of MPB. Women are not immune from pattern baldness, since they also carry the same the genes as men. However, their baldness occurs on their head crown area predominately.

MPB accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men. It is the most commonly found in men aged 18 to 40 years, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology and American Hair Loss Association by the age of 50, more than 50% of men have hair that has become greatly thinned out. In about 25% of men, the balding process begins even before they reach their 21st birthday!

Society exerts a certain strong pressure on men to have a full head of hair and therefore those who suffer from MPB are often unhappy and willing to do almost anything to change the status quo. Such Hair Loss affects every facet of there lives especially personal friendships and business relationships.

Hair loss has also been attributed to:

  • Skin diseases and disorders
  • Immune disorders
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Medications causing side effects
  • Hair-treatment products

Hair Loss and Genetics

It is commonly thought that baldness is handed down from ones mother's father. However, research scientists propose that any number of genes inherited from both parents may play an active role in MBP. The exact nature and pattern of inheritance is unclear, because there are thought to be many mitigating factors, including various genetic and environmental ones. Such hair loss often affects whole families, and there appears to be an enhanced risk when a close family relative has MBP to the others also getting it.

Men with MPB become heir to hair follicles that display sensitivity to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT, a gene formed when the enzyme 5-alpha-reductace converts testosterone, which is found in the oil glands of the hair follicles). These follicles begin to miniaturise, shorten the lifetime of the affected hair follicles, and ultimately cease production of normal hair as we know it.

More About DHT

It is know that DHT shrinks hair follicles, and that when DHT is suppressed, hair follicles are able to flourish. The follicles which are DHT sensitive have to be exposed to the gene for an extended period of time in order for the effected hair follicle to complete the miniaturisation process. However, it is not clear in what way these genetic changes effect and increase the risk of MPB.

What Hope is There?

You may think that since you have no family member who are bald that you won't be either. However, this isn't necessarily true, because MBP duplicates with great inconsistency, and often bypass generations at a whim. So you may get MBP or you may not!

Whatever Happens Don't Despair…

Early diagnosis by an experienced dermatologist with proper intervention can significantly diminish or terminate the process completely – they will carefully check your medical and hair-care history, together with a visual hair examination.

Hair loss can be prevented using any of the FDA approved products, such as Finasteride and Regaine, which have been clinically verified to inhibit hair loss and even encourage some hair growth in the crown area. Failing this, you could take the quick and inexpensive route and shave your head clean and 'air your lid' from now on…

How to Embrace Your Baldness

Read our feature Bald And Proud to find out how to become one of the many hair loss sufferers who are embracing their baldness.

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