If you’re a man losing your hair, you might first blame it on your genetics–your dad’s or grandfather’s shiny bald head.
While hereditary hair loss is the most common reason why men lose their hair, it’s not the only reason. Understanding what’s causing your hair loss can help you determine the best way to treat it.
Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, is the most common cause of hair loss in men, according to the American Hair Loss Association. If you suffer from androgenetic alopecia, you can blame your hair loss on your forebears. Male pattern baldness is also the form of hair loss that is best treated with hairrestoration surgery.
Men who have androgenetic alopecia are sensitive to a byproduct of testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. An enzyme in the hair follicles converts testosterone into DHT. If a man’s hair follicles are sensitive to DHT, the follicles shrink, or miniaturize. Over time, the hair produced by the follicles changes. The lifespan of the hair becomes shorter and eventually each strand of hair becomes fine, until it is not able to provide sufficient coverage on the head.
Androgenetic alopecia typically affects hair on the top of the head. Often, the hair by the temples and on the middle of scalp is affected first. As hair loss continues, a man can be left with a semi-circle of hair around the sides and back of his scalp.
Male pattern baldness can be diagnosed by looking at the pattern of hair loss on a man’s head and by finding out about the history of hair loss in the man’s family. A doctor can also examine the follicles on the scalp closely, looking for signs of miniaturization and to assess the degree of miniaturization on the scalp.
Cicatricial alopecia, also called scarring alopecia, is a form of hair loss that occurs in about 3 percent of people with hair loss, both men and women. When a person has scarring alopecia, the hair follicles are destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.
The condition can take several forms. Some forms are asymptomatic, at least at first, while others cause itchiness, burning, or other discomfort in the affected area. The condition can develop slowly or be aggressive. Typically, hair loss due to cicatricial alopecia is patchy, with the areas of hair loss taking on a ragged shape.
To diagnose the condition, a doctor might take a biopsy of the skin. When examining the biopsy, the doctor will often look for damage to the hair follicles as well as scar tissue. He can also look for inflammation, but that doesn’t occur in all cases.
Treatment of the condition varies and depends on the factors contributing to it. A hair transplant can help once the scarred areas have healed. Before that point, the hair loss can be treated with medications such as corticosteroids or antibiotics.
The American Hair Loss Association points out that alopecia areata is a very rare form of hair loss, affecting just two out of every 100 people. Yet, it’s the third most common type of hair loss, after male or female pattern baldness and telogen effluvium.
Alopecia areata is thought to be a type of autoimmune disorder. The body attacks the hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out. The condition can affect adults and children, both women and men.
The condition most commonly appears as smooth patches of hair loss over the scalp. In less common cases, it can lead to hair loss all over the scalp, a condition known as alopecia totalis. When the hair loss takes place all over the body, the condition is called alopecia universalis.
Often, people with alopecia areata don’t have any symptoms beyond losing their hair. Some experience redness or itchiness at the site of the hair loss, though. In many cases, the hair does grow back, as the immune system doesn’t completely destroy the hair follicles. Some people with alopecia areata completely regrow their hair within two years. Others might experience continued hair loss or might find that their hair grows back but then falls out again.
Finding the cause of your hair loss is important to finding out the best way to respond. If you are suffering from male pattern baldness, hair restoration might be your best option for treatment. Learn more about your hair loss by contacting hair restoration specialist Dr. Jeffrey Epstein at one of his two office locations. To schedule a consultation in Miami, call the office at (305) 666-1774. For an appointment in the New York office, contact Dr. Epstein at (212) 759-3484.