Causes of male pattern baldness

Male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is a progressive hair loss condition which causes your hairline to recede from the top or crown of your scalp and/or from your forehead.

Testosterone, an anabolic steroid commonly known as the male sex hormone, is responsible for maintaining your health and wellbeing. Its main responsibilities include regulating your libido (or sex drive), your energy and the production of red blood cells in your body. Testosterone is also the primary cause of male pattern baldness because of its byproduct.

DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone, an active compound produced by your metabolism that is derived from the male sex hormone testosterone. Together with other metabolites, DHT is crucial to normal growth, physical development and reproduction. DHT also acts as an androgenic hormone whose main function is to control and boost the development of your male characteristics.

Your genetics define if and when your hair follicles are vulnerable to DHT. Once the converted hormone reaches the scalp through your blood stream, it causes an inflammation of the follicles and blocks the essential nutrients and oxygen that fuel the follicles. As a result, the growing phase (medical professionals call this the anagen phase) of your hair is shortened continually until the follicles completely lose the ability to grow the strong, thick hair on your scalp that is known as ‘terminal’ hair.

Male pattern baldness is directly related to men’s genes and male sex hormones. It usually follows a regular pattern of a slow, or indeed fast, receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown area, and is caused by hormones and genetic predisposition.

Each strand of hair we have is set in a tiny pocket in the skin called a follicle. When baldness occurs, it generally means that these hair follicles shrink over time, resulting in much shorter and finer hair. Eventually, the follicle does not grow new hair at all. Technically, however, the follicles still remain alive, which suggests that it might still possible to grow new hair. The issue is that, once the active growth phase is over, no hair in fact grows to any length, no matter what treatment is applied. DHT guarantees very little or no growth once a follicle has stopped producing hair. This is why many treatments can sometimes create fine baby hair or a light fluff. They can achieve a tiny amount of bare scalp coverage but nothing approaching styleable hair.

The typical pattern of male baldness begins at the front of the hairline. The hairline gradually recedes and forms an “M” shape. Eventually, the hair becomes finer, shorter, and thinner, and now creates a U-shaped or horseshoe pattern of hair around the sides of the head. Classic male pattern baldness is usually diagnosed based on the appearance and pattern of the hair loss. There are pictorial measurement scales, such as the Norton Scale, to measure and identify each person’s severity of hair loss. Hair loss professionals will use these pictorial scales when diagnosing hair loss and advising on possible solutions. You will fit one of these charts.

Both male and female patterns of hair loss can also be caused by a whole host of other conditions. These are usually linked to medical issues involving skin and scalp conditions, as well as more obvious factors such as diet, ageing or sun exposure. The list is long. Some hair loss occurs in patches, a commonality found in both stress-related issues and the condition known as alopecia.

In some cases, people start to shed a lot of hair in a short period, with potential causes for this ranging from stress to pregnancy, toxin and chemical exposure, external and invasive medical therapies, dietary issues, prescription and recreational drug use. Some people’s hair simply breaks, which is usually in relation to dietary and nutritional issues, blood and vitamin deficiency issues for example, and some people suffer from hair loss along with skin redness, scalp wetness, scalp oiliness, skin scaling and flaking, high sensitivity and tenderness and in some instances pain.In some cases only, a skin biopsy, blood test, or other medical procedures may be needed to diagnose an underlying disorder which causes the hair loss. This could be skin/scalp conditions such as hyperhidrosis, where excessive sweat can change the PH levels of the skin to a much higher acidity level. Only a skin biopsy can reveal changes in the way a person’s skin reacts, or in some cases does not react normally. The physical structure of our blood (affected by conditions such as diabetes or an over/under-active thyroid, for example) often plays a vital role in hair growth problems. Many people try a medical hair analysis to establish the cause of their problem. This may reveal substances such as pesticides/arsenic/lead in the hair structure, that even in low levels can directly affect hair growth/quality/ thickness and longevity. However, medical analysis is not accurate for diagnosing hair loss due to nutritional or other similar disorders.

Finally, various studies have shown that emotional stress or emotional and physical trauma can play a key part in the process of hair loss. Interestingly, this is also true regarding extreme hair colour changes (sudden change from black hair to white or grey hair, for example). While trauma is relatively easy to recognise, constant, low-level stress may be harder to detect but can have the same consequences for the hair.

So, it is clear that there are a wide range of possible and probable causes and it is often difficult to pinpoint where exactly the issue lies. These causes are very rarely reversible and often can only be slowed down. On our website, we have put together information about various hair loss solutions currently available on the market. By understanding their efficacy we believe you will be clearer about what your options are. By gathering all the information here for you, we hope you now have a greater understanding of the issues you are personally facing. Of course our research, while thorough, is non exhaustive but brings the most commonly understood hair loss factors to your attention.


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