There are many conditions which cause hair loss in men, but the most common is androgenetic alopecia. This is also known as androgenic alopecia, or, more commonly, male pattern baldness.
What is male pattern baldness?
A genetic condition that can be inherited from either your maternal or paternal side.
It is caused by a by-product of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which shrinks the hair follicles, resulting in progressive hair thinning and, in many cases, baldness.
What are the signs?
There are a few different patterns to be aware of:
- A receding hairline (resulting in a ‘widow’s peak’)
- A thinning crown (also known as the vertex) – this can sometimes coincide with a receding hairline
- General thinning over the top of the head
It is important to note that androgenetic alopecia does not affect the sides or the back of the hair.
Referring to The Norwood Scale is a useful reference for the progression of androgenetic alopecia. Which stage are you at?
How likely am I to lose my hair?
That’s a very difficult question to answer and it’s not always possible to give an accurate prediction, given that androgenetic alopecia is influenced mainly by our individual genetic code. However, there are some statistics that can give you an idea.
According to the American Hair Loss Association:
- Approximately 25% of men with androgenetic alopecia start losing their hair before turning 21
- Approximately 66% (two thirds) of men will experience hair loss to an extent by the time they’re 35
- Approximately 85% of men will have significant hair loss by the time they’re 50
Are there other causes of hair loss in men?
Yes, many, would be the short answer.
If you would like the long answer, check out this article on other causes of hair loss.
What are the best treatments?
With a never-ending list of hair loss products on the internet seemingly promising a cure, it can be difficult to know where to start and who to believe.
Here at Ask Doctor Jad, I only discuss products which have substantial evidence to support their use. Using the following treatments, especially in combination, can be especially useful in combatting hair loss.
There are two medications proven to treat male hair loss, which are best used in combination:
Finasteride (also known by the brand names Propecia and Proscar) –
A drug which inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which normally converts testosterone into DHT, the hormone responsible for hair loss. Less DHT means less hair loss.
Also used in higher doses to treat an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Only the pill form is licensed to treat male hair loss and it is only available by prescription.
Side effects (uncommon): reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, gynecomastia. A lot of people worry about side effects, so debunk the myths here!
Minoxidil (also known by the brand names Rogaine and Loniten) –
Another drug which is known to be effective against hair loss, but with an unclear mechanism. Theories include increasing blood supply to the hair follicles or acting as a growth factor.
This is a topical treatment, meaning you apply it directly to the site of hair loss.
It is available over the counter, so you don't need a prescription.
Side effects are rarely reported.
It can take up to 6 months to start seeing results with these medications.
You must keep using these treatments indefinitely. Once you stop using them, the hair loss will resume.
You will likely see a range of other options being advertised on the internet. For simplicity’s sake, if it’s not discussed on Ask Doctor Jad, it’s not licensed for treatment and is therefore unlikely to help anyone (apart from the companies you’re giving your hard-earned cash to!)
Also known as low-level laser therapy, it is used to stimulate hair follicles and improve circulation to the scalp. Research is limited and further investigations into these products are necessary, but studies are showing promising results.
It is important to note that not all LLLT products are yet deemed suitable for use, which is why Ask Doctor Jad have done the hard work to find the best ones for you.
The main downside is that these devices are pretty expensive, but many people find that the investment is worth it!
The definitive treatment. The two most common procedures are called follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).
FUT involves removing a section of skin from the back of the scalp, which contains hair which is still growing. This section of skin is then split into tiny pieces called grafts, which are inserted into parts of the scalp with no growing hair.
FUE involves removing individual healthy hair follicles from the scalp, making small holes into parts of the scalp with no growing hair, and inserting them there.
Both procedures are very effective treatment options, so choosing between FUT and FUE can be difficult. In order to make the best decision for you, discussing options with a qualified doctor is highly recommended.
Please check out this article for a more thorough description of your hair transplant options.
A quick aesthetic fix to hide any apparent hair loss, concealers won’t help slow down or regrow your hair, but are a useful aid in your journey for a fuller head of hair.
The key thing to bear in mind is that the quality of these products vary wildly. I'm talking the difference between looking like you have a full head of hair and a bird using your head as a nest.
Assuming you'd prefer the first option (I'm not judging), check out this excellent hair loss concealer, which caters to 15 different hair colours!
When is the best time to start treatment?
As soon as possible.
The earlier you start treatment, the better the results will be. If you leave it too late, a significant or full recovery may be less likely.
As I've previously mentioned, using these treatments in combination is the best way to go. Which means taking Finasteride and Minoxidil together at the very minimum, and adding in a low-level laser therapy product if it fits your budget.
Some people will experience significant levels of hair restoration, others will experience more moderate improvements, and a small number may not notice many changes at all. It is hard to predict who will fall into which group, but starting treatment early will give you the best results.
Here at Ask Doctor Jad, we have you covered with all the options you need to consider right now!