Androgenic Alopecia is a scientific name for the condition commonly known as male pattern baldness. This name can be misleading, however, as the condition can occur in women as well as men. In either case, it can be a cause of some embarrassmen,t but is not in any way serious medically.
The condition is characterized by hair loss that happens gradually and increases regularly over time. In men, it usually begins at the hair line and is then accompanied by a large patch of hair loss at the back of the head. In women, hair loss is more gradual and happens over the entire crown, so it manifests as thinning hair rather than bald patches.
What causes this hair loss to occur?
Androgenic alopecia is thought to be due to the hair growing tissue’s sensitivity to hormones; this sensitivity is due to genetic factors. It’s certainly not contagious, not caused by foods and not the result of nervousness, as some people have been led to believe. It does often run in families.
There has been some connection made to one of the X chromosomes present in both women and men as the source of genetic pattern baldness. This means that this particular form of baldness is passed on through the maternal branch of families.
While other contributing factors have been determined, the primary cause is thought to be a disruption in the normal level of androgen, a hormone found in both men and women. Since female hormone levels experience their greatest shifts post-menopause, loss of hair due to androgen imbalance is most common in women over 50. Men can begin to see symptoms of pattern baldness at much younger ages, especially when there is a genetic component involved.
Is there treatment for male pattern baldness?
You do have a few options as far as combatting hair loss is concerned:
Rogaine (minoxidil) is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure which when applied to the skin causes hair growth in some individuals. One out of ten people who use Rogaine will grow hair. It will slow the rate of hair loss in five out of ten patients who use it. The other four out of ten are wasting their money.
Propecia (finasteride) is another medication taken orally which treats androgenic alopecia.
Many people have achieved success with natural alternatives such as Provillus and other hair loss treatments.
Hair transplants are another option for treating androgenic alopecia. Plugs of hair are removed surgically from areas with plenty of hair and implanted in the areas with little hair. Some people can benefit from another procedure called scalp reduction. This is a surgical procedure in which the bald area is cut out.
Though Rogaine and Propecia are the only drugs for this condition that have received approval by the FDA, there are several other drugs being studied to determine their potential benefits for androgenic alopecia sufferers. Please note that there are some potential side effects to be concerned about with these medications, so you might want to give other methods a try first.
Another possible treatment being considered is low level laser-light therapy. A hairbrush like device outfitted with lasers has been used in a recent study with hopeful results. Among participants in the study, 110 were found to have significant hair re-growth after using the laser device for 26 weeks.