Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, causes hair follicles to shrink over time due to genetic and hormonal factors. It may also be caused by hair follicles that are sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which will grow thinner and shorter over time. Stress, poor nutrition, and medications can also contribute.
Male pattern alopecia typically affects 50% of men, though up to 80% of men will experience some form of androgenetic alopecia by the time they turn 80. Some men choose to go bald gracefully, while others “get it over with” by shaving their head.
Male hair loss and treatment methods vary greatly and coming up with the ideal male hair loss treatment plan depends on identifying the type of alopecia you are suffering from. There are several ways to spot the type of alopecia you’re afflicted with.
The Norwood Scale
Available online, the Norwood Scale allows men to determine what type of male-pattern baldness they have. The scale characterizes the hairline receding, as well as bald spots appearing at the crown and temple.
Starting at one, which is a full head of hair, the scale goes all the way up to seven, or significant hair loss. Typically, if hair loss is between three and six, there is enough for a hair transplant procedure, but even if you fall under seven. That said, you may still have enough hair for male pattern alopecia treatment, though fully restored hair may remain out of reach.
Some of the other forms of alopecia that can lead to male-pattern baldness include:
This form of alopecia results in round bald spots that can appear anywhere on the scalp. It’s caused by an autoimmune disorder that can affect people of all ages, typically starting in childhood.
Just like the name implies, this form of hair loss causes the total loss of hair on the head.
If hair loss runs in the family, start keeping an eye on your hairline once you reach the age the men in your family started losing their hair. And if taking medication that is causing hair loss, ask your physician if there are any alternates. Finally, if your hair loss is being caused by a poor diet, visit a nutritionist and find out what steps you can take to improve it.
Types of Male Baldness
There are several major types of male-pattern baldness that can be identified either by referencing the Norwood Scale or through medical diagnosis. Your doctor or hair specialist should be able to help you recognize and understand the various signs of male-pattern baldness as well as your treatment options based on the type of baldness you are experiencing.
Androgenic alopecia is one of the most common forms of hair loss in men. It’s a genetic condition that causes gradual thinning, weakening, and loss of hair starting as early as the teenage years. This condition is specifically characterized by a progressively receding hairline. Over time, the loss of hair moves from the front of the head where the temples are located towards the crown, eventually creating an M-shaped pattern in the hair. The hair strands become smaller, shorter, and weaker as time goes on, and it becomes increasingly challenging for the hair shafts to produce healthy new hair.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, cicatricial alopecia is actually one of the rarest forms of alopecia, and unlike its counterparts, it’s not a result of an autoimmune disorder or genetic predisposition for hair loss in teenagers. Rather, it’s the result of a culmination of skin disorders such as radiation poisoning, severe rashes, or harsh burns.
Otherwise known as scarring alopecia, the symptoms of this condition are rigorous scarring on the scalp or other affected parts of the body, inflammation, flaky skin, itchiness, and even strong burning sensations. Unfortunately, cicatricial alopecia is a type of male- and female-pattern baldness that requires painstaking medical treatment. The resulting hair loss is permanent, but it can also be remedied with various treatment options, such as hair transplant procedures or wigs.
Hair naturally goes through different phases throughout its lifecycle. The anagen phase is when hair follicles produce hair and it grows as it’s supposed to whereas the telogen phase is when hair enters its natural resting phase. While some hair strands are in their resting or growing phase, others are in their falling-out phase. As we age, the anagen and telogen phases tend to slow down, so your scalp produces fewer and fewer hair in the same time that it takes for other hair strands to fall out at the usual rate. As a result, hair loss occurs and this is what’s known as telogen effluvium.
Involutional alopecia is a direct outcome of telogen effluvium. During this period of your hair’s lifecycle, the hairs that are in a prolonged resting phase become more brittle, shorter, and shrink in sheer numbers.
Tinea capitis typically only afflicts children of elementary school-age, but it’s still highly contagious and can very easily spread to adults whose children are affected by it. It’s usually spread by sharing headgear, such as hats or other articles of clothing. Also known as scalp ringworm, tinea capitis is an infection that causes scarring, inflammation, and boils on the affected area. Fortunately, it’s highly treatable and the hair loss experienced is only temporary. As soon as the condition clears up, hair should start growing back immediately.
If you’re suffering from male pattern alopecia due to factors beyond your control, The Canadian Institute of Hair and Scalp Specialists offers a number of options for treating androgenetic alopecia. These services include the surgical hair transplant, which uses hair from a donor site and transplants it to a balding spot on the scalp. This is a completely safe and effective procedure that our surgeon is experienced at performing.
We also provide our patients with male pattern hair loss treatment that can treat a number of conditions including dry and itchy scalp. And if surgery isn’t for you, we offer non-surgical hair systems that use natural and synthetic hairs. Contact The Canadian Institute of Hair and Scalp Specialists for more information!
“Different types of hair loss,” Canadian Dermatology Association web site; https://www.dermatology.ca/skin-hair-nails/hair/alopecia/different-types-of-hair-loss/, last accessed January 7, 2015.
“Causes of Hair Loss,” American Hair Loss Association web site; https://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/causes_of_hair_loss.asp, last accessed January 7, 2015.