As we get older, our skin begins to sag, and our hair also begins to thin. It’s all part of the aging process — but it’s not always easy to get over or to deal with. Losing your hair can sometimes feel like you are also losing a piece of yourself or a part of your identity. However, thanks to modern medicine and innovative technologies, hair loss due to male pattern baldness is no longer the death sentence for your hairline that it used to be. Earlier treatment plans such as medications, topical tinctures, surgery, and over the counter therapies give balding shoppers hope for hanging onto their locks for as long as possible. While male pattern baldness is inevitable for some, it does not mean they have to give up their receding hairlines without a fight.
What is male pattern baldness, really?
According to dictionary.com, male pattern baldness (MPB) can be defined as, “a pattern of hair loss in males, dependent on the presence of the androgenic hormone testosterone, in which the scalp hair eventually covers only the back of the head and temples.” MPB is also referred to as androgenic alopecia and affects more than 50 percent of all men in the U.S. — 80 percent in Caucasian men alone.
Androgen is a male sex hormone and alopecia is hair loss disorder. Whether a man will develop MPB depends on their individual genetic makeup and their family history with the disorder. So guys, you may want to take a look around at the males in your family. In addition, you may want to consider asking your male family members when they started to show signs of hair loss. Approaching this subject can be tricky, so be sure to take your family member’s feelings about this subject into account before asking your questions.
In case you may not have realized, there are a couple of telltale signs of MPB. It often begins around the hairline and temples, with hairlines slowly receding backward toward the crown of the head. A bald spot at the crown of the head often appears shortly thereafter but can sometimes start out slowly before gradually becoming more and more noticeable. Over time, the receding hairline meets the growing bald spot that originated at the crown of the head, making the infamous “U” shape. This shape can continue downward toward the ears and base of the head until little or very little hair remains.
So, you believe you have male pattern baldness. Now what?
If you suspect you’re suffering from MPB, there are several kinds of treatments available for MPB sufferers. These treatments range in severity from lower risk, over-the-counter treatments for mild cases, to more extreme commitments like surgical hair follicle transplant surgery. It is particularly important to see your doctor before trying new treatments or medications and is especially important in the diagnosis of MPB. Having a doctor diagnose hair loss from MPB is super important because doctors will first rule out other probable causes. In some cases, more serious issues are discovered and can be more important to treat than just MPB.
The lowest-risk treatment for MPB is nothing more than the right haircut or hairstyle. Seeking out a barber or stylist with experience at hiding MPB with a good cut can be a first line of defense against hiding thinning hair. It may sound ridiculously simple, but some people may not realize that a well-suited haircut or style can truly minimize the overall appearance of hair loss. A quick Google search can help pinpoint the right stylist for you, based on your needs and location. If you live in a more rural setting or lack available, specialized stylists in your area, consider researching styling tips on YouTube to give you inspiration or tips.
Another low-risk option for MPB sufferers is Minoxidil or Rogaine. This treatment is geared more toward those who have recently started noticing hair loss or receding hairlines. Users are encouraged to use it for a minimum of four months to one year for best results.
Even though this this treatment is available over the counter without a doctor’s prescription, consumers should consult with their doctor before using. (Please note that any allergic reactions that result from this product require immediate medical attention).
Finasteride, also known by its brand names of Proscar or Propecia, is an oral medication that is taken alone, or along with Rogaine, for hair loss in men. This medication, requiring a doctor’s prescription, contains an enzyme that blocks the production of the male hair loss hormone, thus stopping the loss of hair. This medication is recommended to be taken from three months to 1 year for best results.
It must be taken regularly to halt hair loss — if you stop taking finasteride, the hair loss will resume. Side effects from this medication are moderate and include depression, itching, rash, pain in the testicles, and other male-related issues. Being open with your doctor about your hair loss and any medications used to treat it is especially important.
Some of the other possible treatments for male pattern baldness include:
- forhims.com, a MPB-based product line that uses a combination of over-the-counter products to help customers address thinning hair
- hair mapping
- surgical follicle and/or hair transplants
- hairpieces/wigs for those against surgical intervention
Whether you’re trying to prevent future hair loss, noticed a more prominent receding line, or are well into your hair loss journey, there are options to combat this issue. Forget integrating hats into your wardrobe or avoiding get-togethers because of embarrassment due to MPB. Don’t wait! Talk with your doctor, purchase your products, and take back control of your dome!
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