MALE HAIR LOSS CAUSES
GENETIC (HEREDITARY) Male Hair Loss
Male pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a common form of hair loss that affects men. It is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. The main hormonal factor involved is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone that is formed through the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. DHT acts on the hair follicles in the scalp, causing them to shrink and produce finer, shorter hairs. Eventually, the hair follicles may stop producing new hairs altogether, leading to hair loss and baldness.
Hereditary baldness is a common form of male pattern hair loss that is passed down from one’s parents. If one or both of your parents have experienced hair loss, it is more likely that you will also experience hair loss. However, it is important to keep in mind that hair loss is not always hereditary, and other factors such as medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle factors can also contribute to hair loss.
WHAT IS DHT and the 5 ALPHA REDUCTASE ENZYME?
5 alpha reductase is an enzyme that is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. DHT is a hormone that plays a role in the development of male characteristics, such as facial hair and a deeper voice. It is also involved in the development of male pattern baldness, as it can cause the hair follicles to shrink, leading to hair loss. There are two types of 5 alpha reductase: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is found in the sebaceous glands, while type 2 is found in the prostate, hair follicles, and liver. Inhibiting the activity of 5 alpha reductase can help to reduce the production of DHT, which may be useful in the treatment of male pattern baldness. Finasteride is a medication that is commonly used to inhibit the activity of 5 alpha reductase and is available as an FDA approved prescription treatment for hair loss.
WHICH HAIR FOLLICLES IN THE BODY ARE MOST SUSCEPTIBLE TO DHT?
Some men are more genetically susceptible to DHT-induced hair loss than others. In those with susceptible follicles, eventually DHT levels will rise to the point where the follicles interact with the hormone and begin to miniaturize and eventually stop functioning (at which point “hair loss” will occur).
WHAT MAKES A HAIR FOLLICLE SUSCEPTIBLE TO DHT ?
It is important to note that genetics plays a significant role in determining whether or not a person will experience hair loss. It really boils down as to whether or not your follicles have receptors for the DHT hormone. If they have a receptor, they are prone to potential loss. All men have roughly the same level of DHT hormone, but not all men have the same number of DHT receptors in their follicles. As the level of DHT rises and circulates through the body, it will bind to susceptible follicles and begin the hair loss process – “miniaturization.” If given enough time, these follicles will eventually stop cycling and will no longer grow hair.
WHAT DETERMINES WHO WILL HAVE DHT RECEPTORS ON THEIR HAIR FOLLICLES AND THOSE WHO WON’T?
Your genes will determine whether or not your body produces DHT receptors. If you have DHT receptors on any given follicle, DHT will eventually bind and miniaturization will occur. Miniaturization is the process of hair follicles shrinking and producing smaller and finer hairs. As the hair follicle shrinks, it becomes less able to produce healthy, thick hairs. The hair that does grow is often thin, weak, and easily breakable. Eventually, the hair follicle may stop producing hair altogether, leading to baldness or thinning.
There are several treatments available to slow down the process of miniaturization, including medications like finasteride and minoxidil. It is important to see a doctor or specialist to determine if these treatments are right for you. Remember, that nothing will stop the miniaturization or change your genetics; only slow the process down – and then the hair can be permanently replaced via hair transplant surgery.
It is important to note that DHT is not the only cause of hair loss. There are many other factors that can contribute to hair loss, such as hormonal imbalances, medications, stress, and certain medical conditions. If you are experiencing hair loss, it is important to consult with a dermatologist or hair loss specialist to determine the cause and appropriate treatment options. In some cases, treatments such as minoxidil or finasteride may be helpful in slowing or stopping hair loss. In other cases, hair transplant surgery may be the best option. It is important to discuss all of your options with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for your individual situation.
SLOWING HEREDITARY HAIR LOSS
There are two FDA approved medications for genetic male hair loss: finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine). It is important to note that Finasteride (an inhibitor of the 5 alpha reductase enzyme), also known as Propecia, is a prescription medication and should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional. It is not suitable for everyone and can have serious side effects. It is important to talk to a doctor before starting any treatment for hair loss and to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits.
One of the most popular treatments for hair loss is minoxidil, also known as Rogaine. Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical treatment that is applied directly to the scalp. It is available in both a liquid and foam form. There are a few different ways that minoxidil may help to treat hair loss. Minoxidil is believed to work by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles and by stimulating the growth of new hair. Another theory is that it increases the production of a substance called prostaglandin D2, which is involved in hair growth. Minoxidil may also help to improve the function of the hair follicles, making them better able to grow new hair.
Minoxidil is most effective in the early stages of hair loss, and it is typically less effective in advanced stages of hair loss. It is also more effective in treating hair loss on the crown of the head than it is in treating a receding hairline.
Minoxidil is generally well-tolerated, but it can cause some side effects, such as dryness, flaking, and itching of the scalp. It is important to follow the instructions for use carefully to minimize these side effects. Minoxidil should be used on a continuous basis to maintain any benefits that are achieved. If the treatment is stopped, any hair that has grown will typically fall out within a few months.