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Androgenetic alopecia in men, also known as male pattern baldness, is estimated to affect around half of all men by the age of 50, usually starting in the late twenties or early thirties. Male pattern baldness usually presents with receding of the hairline, followed by thinning of the hair in the crown and temple regions, leaving losing hair at the back and sides of the head to be presented in a horseshoe shape. Although there are different types of hair loss, male pattern baldness is the most common type. It is usually diagnosed upon appearance and pattern of hair loss.
On average, hair growth usually occurs at a rate of about 1 centimeter each month from hair follicles located under your skin. The single scalp hair usually goes through alternating growth and rest phases every 2-4 years before falling out and allowing new healthy hair to grow. This cycle repeats and it is normal for you to lose scalp hair everyday.
Male-pattern baldness is hereditary, and is thought to be caused by oversensitive hair follicles, linked to having too much of a certain male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Other forms of alopecia and hair loss may be caused by various reasons including stress and medication side effects.
Although there is no cure for male pattern baldness treatment for hair loss symptoms include:
- Minoxidil – a medication available as a scalp application from most pharmacies. It may stimulate hair growth in a small proportion of adults, but only treats hair loss symptoms for as long as it is used.
- Finasteride – a highly effective medication, available privately for the treatment of symptoms in the UK. This medication has been proven to be effective in increasing hair growth and preventing further hair loss.
Local support groups such as Alopecia UK or counselling may be helpful if you require further support.
A patient information leaflet on Male Pattern Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia) is also available on the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) website.