Treating Male-Pattern Baldness

by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Hair loss in both men and women is known as androgenic alopecia. Androgens are hormones that regulate male sexual development, but they also control hair growth. Male specific androgenic alopecia is called male-pattern baldness, since hair is lost in well defined patterns. Starting above the temples, hair thins at the crown and the hairline recedes, often progressing to complete or partial baldness.

Researchers are unclear as to why certain family clusters inherit male-pattern baldness, but they suspect that genes inherited from both parents factor in. It is safe to say that if you have a close relative with male-pattern baldness, you may develop it later in life.

While many men choose to accept their fate, there are others who seek treatment for their male-pattern baldness. Some treatments can halt hair loss or reduce it, while others have been proven to reverse hair loss and promote hair growth. But if a hair loss treatment is not FDA approved, chances are that you are wasting your money and time if you buy them. Basically if a hair loss treatment for men does not reduce DHT levels, then it will not be effective. DHT is a hormone that shrinks hair follicles. The two FDA approved hair loss products are:

  • Propecia is a drug originally manufactured to treat prostate problems. Also known as the generic name of Finasteride, when the drug is taken orally in small doses it effectively lowers DHT levels.
  • Minoxidil was produced originally to treat high blood pressure. Also known as the brand name Rogaine, it is applied as a topical treatment for hair loss. Unlike Propecia, however, Minoxidil has no effect on the hormone DHT and will not promote new hair growth.

As with those two FDA approved drugs, the following drugs and extracts also have been clinically shown to deter the DHT hormone, thus halting hair loss and in some instances promoting hair growth:

  • The drug Dutasteride, under the brand name Avidart.
  • Extract of saw palmetto.
  • The antifungal drug Ketoconazole.
  • Extract of stinging nettle root.

Improving your overall nutrition, health, and lifestyle may help with hair loss issues. And while hair transplants, pieces, weaves, and wigs do not specifically address male-pattern baldness, they all are viable options for those who decide it is best that they do not use oral or topical medications for hair loss.

Before you try any medicines or over-the-counter hair loss treatments, consider carefully if you are exhibiting class male-pattern baldness, or if there are other reasons why you may be shedding hair. Speak with your doctor and discuss options that are best for you and your lifestyle.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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