If you're one of the 70% of fellas who suffer from male pattern baldness you might not want to skip over this one. If you're one of the other 30%, chances are you know someone in the 70% you can share this with. Androgenetic Alopecia aka "male pattern baldness" is kind of a big deal for men. Guys might not stick to a weight loss plan, but if you told us we'd have to run a marathon each month to get our hair to grow back, you'd bet your bouffant we'd be pounding the pavement everyday!
In this post my goal is to explain exactly what male pattern baldness is and what it's not, how it's diagnosed, preventive measures and treatments and even a newly emerging modality that are going to change the game. The cure is on its way men!
There are a number of reasons why men can lose their hair. Some of these reasons can be anything from scalp inflammation to smoking to autoimmune disorders and even STRESS. However, these reasons aren't the culprit for male pattern baldness.
Androgenetic Alopecia is considered a hereditary disorder predominantly considered resulting from your mom's side of the fam. What happens is out of all that testosterone floating around in your bloodstream, a small percentage of it is converted to DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) by the enzyme 5-Alpha Reductase. DHT causes your hair follicles (the holes your individual hair strands grow from) to shrink over time. This causes increasingly thinner strands of hair until the follicles are too small to grow hair at all.
Male pattern baldness can begin in some guys while they're in their teens. However it commonly occurs around age 50. It begins with thinning around the temples and will eventually result in a receding hairline or an 'M' type pattern, while other men will experience thinning on the top posterior aspect of the head.
Now we all lose hair...like everyday. This is normal. As a matter of fact, on the norm we all lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. It's when you begin losing more than 150 strands or more per day on a consistent basis that you need to start taking this situation serious. Take action NOW. If you wait until it's visibly noticeable you've most likely already have lost up to half of your hair. So what can you do about it?
Although, unfortunately, you can't completely stop hair loss if you're genetically predispositioned. BUT, there are things you can do to slow the process down. Here's a list:
1. Clean up the diet. Up your intake of Omegas fatty acids. Eat fish high in fat, like salmon. Dark leafy green vegetables are high in vitamins A and C which are great in slowing down hair loss. Also, nuts are high in zinc.
2. It's been shown that whey protein concentrate slows down the thinning process.
3. Stop smoking. This has been shown to speed up the process, most likely due to the free radical damage imposed on the body.
4. Slow down with the chemicals and excessive styling. This can wreak havoc on those delicate hair follicles and the thinner strands of hair.
5. Avoid washing your hair with hot water. Lukewarm water has been shown to be less damaging.
6. Use only a large tooth comb when styling your hair.
7. Saw Palmetto. There are A LOT of testimonials from men using this natural supplement claiming that it significantly slowed the thinning process down.
So what if you've been lost a lot of hair and you haven't read this awesome blog post until now? Well, good news. There are some treatments out there that do work. Some of them are easy and inexpensive, and then there are those that are pretty invasive and extremely expensive. Let's start with the easy and inexpensive.
1. Change up the hairstyle. I know this is not the BEST answer, but it's an option. Get creative! It's been shown that if you color your hair, it actually thickens the hair and makes the thinning look less obvious.
2. Wigs, toupees, hair pieces are options that work. There has been a lot of progress in this department. It's not as bad as you're picturing in your head right now.
3. Weaves. Check out the link. You'll be blown away.
4. Medication. Minoxidil (Rogaine) and Finasteride (Propecia) are two medications approved by the FDA in the treatment of male pattern baldness and have been shown to cause hair regrowth. However, when you stop these medications, the hair loss will return. It takes about 3 months to 1 year to notice the effects. Most doctors will suggest stopping if after 1 year you've not noticed any new hair growth. Plus, there are side effects to consider, like breast cancer. Talk to your doctor.
5. Hair transplants are expensive, but they do work. They work by removing healthy hair from areas of the scalp that have active hair growth and then transplanting them into the thinning areas. This will require multiple treatments. There's also a risk for scarring and infection. Otherwise, it looks great and it's a permanent situation.
6. Last but not least, you can just shave it all off and go Goldberg style. I see more and more men with shaved heads these days. It looks good. Grow out the goatee and there you go. I've even heard some women say they like it, "it looks tough."
Male pattern baldness is a serious issue. Some men suffer emotionally from it, although they may never admit it. If this is the case for you, it's important that you get a handle on that. It can lead to severe self-esteem issues that can cause problems in other areas of your life and even lead to depression. Some counseling might be in order. It's not the end of the world friends. There plenty of options out there these days.
Something really cool is coming around the bend hopefully within the next decade. They've actually figured out how to CLONE hair follicles. They can actually clone 10,000 hair follicles from one single strand. Unfortunately they only survive for about 2 weeks for now. The cure is right around the corner though. So stay strong and keep the faith!
Last thing I'd like to mention is that male pattern baldness is considered an early clinical indicator of risks associated with some other health issues, like benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), heart disease and even prostate cancer. Again, talk to your doctor about your concerns before things get a little hairy.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope it's been helpful and I really hope you got something valuable out of reading.
I love connecting with my readers. You can connect with me on Twitter or Facebook! Find me on Twitter here @MichaelWardRN or on Facebook here.