Male Hair Loss Causes and Treatments - Understanding Male
Pattern Baldness and What You Can Do  
by Julie-Ann Amos
Up to 90% of all male hair loss is due to male pattern baldness, also called
androgenetic alopecia. In this situation, the cause of hair loss is due to genes
inherited from the father, the mother, or both. The older a man gets the more likely
balding is to occur, although some men begin to lose their hair as early as their late
teens or early twenties.

Male pattern baldness generally appears in one of two ways - thinning hair on the
crown of the head or a receding hairline. One way to predict the balding a man will
experience is to look at hair loss and causes in his relatives. This is not always
accurate, though, as sometimes male pattern baldness can skip a generation.

Cause of Male Pattern Baldness

Experts say that as many as 50% of all men will experience hair loss, ranging from
mild to moderate, by the time they turn 50 years old, and 65% of males will have
perceptible baldness by the time they are 60 years old. Whether due to aging,
genetics or a combination of the two, why exactly is it that hair loss occurs?

The answer is a chemical called dehydrotestosterone, or DHT. It is a male hormone
that collects and builds up around hair follicles, eventually causing the follicle and the
hair growing out of it to be killed. As DHT levels rise with aging, more and more
follicles are affected by it and hair loss becomes more pronounced.

Other Male Hair Loss Causes

If 90% of male pattern baldness is due to genes and aging, what about the other
10% of men who have lost or are losing their hair? For these men the causes of hair
loss can range from medical conditions to damage caused by extreme hairstyles or
harsh hair care. Examples can include:

Medication - Some anti-depressants, blood thinners and medications for the
treatment of gout can cause hair loss, as can excess Vitamin A. Chemotherapy
medications also often cause hair loss.

Severe Illness/Surgery - The body undergoes tremendous stress during a severe
illness or major surgery, often causing hair loss within three to four months following
the illness or surgery.

Disease - Hair loss in males can be the cause of an undiagnosed medical condition
such as lupus or diabetes, or a fungal infection of the scalp.

Hormones - The human body contains an assortment of hormones, both male and
female, that can become imbalanced and cause hair loss. Hormonal problems due to
an overactive or underactive thyroid gland can also lead to hair loss.

Proper Diagnosis

Because there are medical as well as genetic causes of male pattern baldness, it is
important to correctly diagnose the exact cause before selecting the most
appropriate hair loss treatment. The best course of action is to consult with your
doctor before starting any treatment.

If the cause of hair loss in males is something other than genetics and aging, the
good news is that it is often reversible just by reducing or eliminating the medicine or
condition that is causing it. The danger of self-diagnosis is that an underlying illness or
medical condition could continue untreated, leading to more serious medical issues.

Strong feelings and emotions related to hair loss are understandable, but should not
be used as an excuse to avoid consulting a doctor. A doctor can confirm that there is
no medical condition requiring treatment and provide advice about potential solutions.

Understanding Hair Loss Treatments

For the 90% of men whose hair loss is due to causes such as common male pattern
baldness, there are several treatment options to consider. These range from topical
medications to oral medications to surgical techniques, all of which come with varying
advantages, disadvantages, costs, and other considerations.

The key to selecting an appropriate treatment for a male's hair loss is considering
convenience, short term and long terms impacts to daily life, cost, effectiveness and
ongoing maintenance requirements. The best solution for one man may be very
different from the best treatment for another man, so it is important to make a
decision based on personal circumstances and desired outcome.

Topical Hair Loss Treatment

By far the most common type of hair loss treatment for males is topical application
of hair loss products. These products can range from special shampoos and
conditioners to scalp stimulating oils to chemical medications.

The most effective topical hair loss treatment to date is minoxidil, marketed under
the brand name Rogaine. Previously available only by prescription, this treatment is
now available over the counter at nearly any drugstore, grocery store or large
discount retailer. To maintain hair growth, Rogaine must be used on an ongoing
basis; when use is discontinued, any hair regrowth of hair that occurred will be lost
again. Rogaine is the only hair loss treatment approved by the FDA for use by both
males and females.

Many other topical treatments for males are available that have not been proven
effective. Beware of any product that is promoted as an "instant cure" or
"miraculous hair growth" remedy. While these hair loss products typically will not
cause particular harm or damage to the scalp or hair, neither will they effectively
promote new hair growth. They are most often a waste of money that could
otherwise be spent on a medically proven treatment.

Oral Hair Loss Treatment

Another effective hair loss treatment for males is finasteride, marketed under the
brand name Propecia. This medication is available by prescription only and comes in
the form of a pill that is taken each day. As with Rogaine, if use of Propecia is
stopped then any hair regrowth that has occurred will be lost.

Propecia is an FDA approved hair loss product for use by males only, and in fact
comes with a strong warning to women because it can cause serious birth defects.
Women who are pregnant or could become pregnant are strongly advised not to
even handle Propecia tablets, because the medication could potentially be absorbed
through the skin.

Surgical Hair Loss Treatment

A number of good surgical hair loss treatments are available. These treatments have
improved dramatically over the years thanks to better techniques and better medical
technology. The results typically look extremely natural in most males and do not
disappear over time.

The most common surgical treatment for males is hair grafting, a process by which
hair from one part of the head is transplanted to balding areas. Grafts can be as
small as a single hair, making it possible for the surgeon to create a very
natural-looking hairline.

Another surgical option for males is more invasive, involving the cutting away of bald
areas and stretching the areas that still have hair over the excised area. Recovery
time is longer for this type of treatment, and not all hair loss patients will be good
candidates for the procedure.

If you are experiencing male pattern baldness, consult your doctor or dermatologist
who can diagnose the underlying cause of your hair loss and suggest the best
treatment for your particular situation.

About The Author

Julie-Ann Amos is a freelance writer for, a consumer guide on
and . She has done extensive research to
find the
currently available.
Copyright 2006
There is a wide range of male hair
loss causes, and thanks to modern
medicine, many choices of hair loss
treatment for you to consider. The
majority of men lose their hair thanks
to inherited genes and the normal
aging process, but there are other
causes as well. The key to selecting
an effective hair loss treatment is to
determine the underlying cause of
hair loss and then select among the
assortment of hair loss solutions to
find the most appropriate treatment.

Male Pattern Baldness
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content on
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remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise
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