Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss seen in men. It is associated with the male sex hormones called androgens. Androgens have a number of functions, one of which is regulating hair growth.
This condition affects the growth cycle of the hair, weakening the hair follicles (a sac within the scalp that holds the hair). This leads to thinning of hair and hair loss. Though male pattern baldness can begin as early as your teenage years, it is more common in middle-aged and older men.
Three main contributing factors for male pattern baldness include genetics, age and hormones. Men who have close relatives with male pattern baldness are at an increased risk of developing the condition. Advancing age and hormonal changes also play a role in increasing the risk of male pattern baldness.
Let’s understand more about male pattern hair loss and how to identify the early warning signs:
Early Signs of Male Pattern Baldness
The most obvious and visible symptom of male pattern baldness is hair loss. Other signs of the condition include the following:
Receding Hairline. Individuals with male pattern baldness develop a classic M-shaped hairline. Here you can notice receding corners and a longer widow’s peak area resembling an M shape.
Thinning Crown. In some cases of male pattern baldness, you will notice that the hair in the crown area starts to fall out and starts to look thinner. As the crown portion of your head isn't easily visible in the mirror, you might not notice the thinning of the crown unless the condition advances.
Diffuse Thinning. You will notice hair loss and thinning of hair over the entire scalp without any obvious effects on the hairline. It is easier to notice when your hair is wet and in bright lighting as it makes the areas of the scalp more visible.
An Itchy Scalp. In rare cases, an itchy scalp could be a sign of male pattern baldness. Excessive scratching of the scalp can weaken the hair follicles and lead to hair fall.
If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs, it is better that you consult a dermatologist for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and perform a physical examination. They might recommend additional tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) for identifying any underlying conditions that may be causing the hair loss.
Male pattern hair loss can be treated with the help of topical medications such as minoxidil and additional oral medications such as finasteride. Other treatment options include laser and light treatments and hair transplantation.
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