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Men's Health

Defeat the Pattern of Male-Pattern Baldness

Hair loss is a topic most men don't want to discuss. Yet it affects more than two-thirds of them by age 35. Nearly 85 percent of men will have thinning hair by age 50.

Photo of smiling couple, with woman's arms around man

Harrowing hair accounts

Everyone loses some hair each day. It's part of the normal hair-growth cycle. Excessive hair loss, though, can be caused by a number of reasons, such as an illness, hormonal changes, or certain medications. In men, the most likely culprit is male-pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia.

Despite what you may have heard, you can't solely blame your mother for male-pattern baldness. Such hair loss can be inherited from both parents. In fact, it's the result of a genetic variation that increases the level of a certain androgen, which is a type of hormone. A rise in the level of this androgen makes hair finer and shorter, eventually stunting growth.

Male-pattern baldness can start as early as the teen years, but it's more likely as a man ages. The condition usually starts at the temples. As the hairline recedes, it often forms an M shape. Many men also lose hair on the top of their head, which may eventually lead to baldness.

Not all hope - or hair - is lost

Male-pattern baldness can negatively affect all aspects of a man's life: self-esteem, relationships, and career. Fortunately, treatments to slow or even stop hair loss are available. For the best success, though, men need to talk with their doctor early, before significant hair loss occurs.

Two medications that help treat male-pattern baldness are minoxidil and finasteride. Minoxidil, better known as Rogaine, is put directly on the scalp. It has helped some men regrow hair, but it doesn't work for everyone. Another potential drawback: Men who start and then stop using it will begin to lose their hair again.

Finasteride comes in pill form. It's effective in stopping hair loss and spurring new hair growth in many men who use it. It works by lowering how much androgen a man's body produces.

Some men may also benefit from various surgical procedures, including scalp reduction or expansion and hair transplantation. Transplantation involves moving hair to the head from another part of the body. Better instruments and techniques have made this option much more effective.

Test your knowledge about male-pattern baldness with this quiz.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Academy of Dermatology - Hair Loss

American Academy of Family Physicians - Hair Loss

American Hair Loss Association - Men's Hair Loss: Introduction

February 2013

Better Hair Care Can Limit Hair Loss

Better hair care on your part can help prevent hair loss in the first place. Follow these simple steps to keep your locks longer:

  • Be gentle when towel-drying your hair. Wet hair is weaker and tends to break. Instead of a vigorous rubdown, wrap your hair in a towel or let it air dry. Men with straight hair should also avoid combing wet hair to prevent further breakage.

  • Skip the blow dryer. It can make your hair brittle and more likely to break.

  • Limit the long-lasting hold products. Gels, mousses, and other products that hold hair in place can be effective for styling. But if you apply them to wet hair and then comb, you can easily break and pull hair out.

  • Slather on the conditioner after shampooing. Conditioners won't repair hair, but they can add strength and improve how your hair looks.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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