What's male pattern baldness

Hair loss can affect your entire body but it is more common on the scalp. Hair loss falls into different categories and male pattern baldness is just one of them. Male pattern baldness is also known as androgenic alopecia. It refers to the loss of hair on a man’s scalp.

The hair loss occurs when there are changes in the hormone levels and happens in later years. It does not mean that you do not have any hair; it means that the hair produced is so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is not possible to prevent your hair from falling as you get older; however, there are treatment options that can slow down the process. The male pattern baldness is inherited. It occurs when there is an increased sensitivity to the dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes finer hairs to be produced by shortening the anagen phase of the hair cycle. Male pattern hair loss can result in depression, low self-esteem, and other psychological impacts. It is especially true in the western societies where hair is seen as a symbol of attractiveness.

It is a natural part of aging, but can be very distressing. There are people who try to hide the hair loss using different hairstyles or wearing hats. Sudden hair loss can be due to some serious issues and may require medical attention. There are still those who opt for available treatment methods to deal with the hair loss. It is advisable to talk to your doctor before you go for hair loss treatment. Male pattern baldness affects about half of the men by the time they are 50 years.

Even though it is common in middle aged individuals, it can affect men in any age group. Some early signs of male pattern baldness are visible in men in their 20s and 30s. Male pattern baldness could be what you are experiencing when you notice your hair creeping backwards and extra hairs on your pillow. Most people believe that male pattern baldness is caused by using non-organic shampoos or wearing hats but that is far from the truth. It is just natural that you begin to panic when you notice your hair line receding, but you should not be stressed about it. There are effective methods you can use to restore the hair you have lost.

Symptoms of male pattern baldness

Hair loss mostly starts at the temples in men. The hairline starts to recede and develop an M shape. The hair at the back of the head begins to thin. Hair loss is a slow process that can last for years. The hair creates a U-shape pattern on the sides of the head. Hair loss can occur in different ways depending on its cause. At times it can be gradual and affect the scalp or it can affect the whole body. There are hair loss that are temporary while there are those that are permanent. The signs and symptoms of hair loss include:

Gradual thinning on top of head

Gradual thinning is a common type of hair loss that affects men and women as they get older. In men, the hair starts receding from the forehead and creates a line like the letter M. In women, the hairline is not affected but there is a broadening on the area where women part their hair.

Patchy bald spots

There are people who experience coin-sized bald spots. The patchy bald spots only affect the scalp. However, it can also affect the eyebrows or beards. At times, the skin can become painful before the hair begins to fall out.

Sudden loose of hair

An emotional shock can lead to hair loss. You may notice handfuls of hair when washing or combing your hair.

Full body hair loss

There are some treatments that can result in hair loss this include chemotherapy for cancer. However, the hair grows back.

Patches of scaling

The patches of scaling are a sign of ringworm. It is accompanied by swelling, broken hair and oozing.

Receding hairline

One of the signs of balding is the change in the hairline. You can see the recede when you look in the mirror or in photographs. Baldness starts at the hairline and when the hairline receded you start to have a v-shaped hairline.

If you look at the photos you took years ago and the ones you took recently, and notice receding, it is a sign of hair loss. Make sure you look at the photos in similar lighting conditions look at the photos in different lighting will give you different results. Your hair will look thinner in bright down lighting. Fluorescent light can make your hair look thin even when it is normal. When you start seeing these signs, you may have a hair loss problem.

You may notice male pattern baldness when the hairline begins to recede. When this happens, you will have M-shaped hairline and longer windows peak area. However, the hair lines do not recede in the same way.

Thinning crown

If you do not notice receding hairline, you may have seen the hair near the crown beginning to fall out. You may notice the hair loss when it has becomes more advanced since it is not possible to see it in the mirror. The thinning crown can be checked by using a handheld mirror. You can also take a selfie of the back of your head.

Diffuse thinning

Diffuse thinning is when the hair loss affects the whole scalp. Your hair will become thinner but it will not affect the hairline. Diffusing thinning is less common. You can easily notice it when your hair is wet.

What causes male pattern baldness

The average person loses about 100 hairs a day. However, such hair loss is common and will not lead to thinning of hair. Hair loss usually occurs when hair follicle gets destroyed. Hair loss is caused by the following factors:

Family history

Hair loss mostly occurs due to hereditary conditions. If you have a family history of baldness, there are high chances you will also become bald.

Each hair has a growth cycle. In male pattern baldness, the growth cycle weakens and hair follicle shrinks leading to finer hair strands. The growth cycle comes to an end and no hair grows back. When you have hair loss caused by genetics, you will not have any side effects. As you age, you will experience predictable patterns which are a receding hairline.

Hormonal changes

You can get permanent or temporary hair loss due to various conditions such as hormonal changes. Some hormonal changes that can lead to hair loss are child birth, pregnancy, thyroid problems and menopause. There are medical conditions that can cause hair loss. Some of the medical conditions are trichotillomania; a hair pulling disorder and ringworm.

Medications and supplements

Your hair loss can also be caused by certain medications and supplements. The drugs used for depression, cancer, heart problems, arthritis and high blood pressure can have hair loss as one of the side effects.

Stressful event

You may experience hair thinning after an emotional shock. However, this kind of hair loss is usually temporary.

Hairstyles and treatments

There are also hairstyles that can cause hair loss. The hairstyles that pull your hair tightly like cornrows or pigtails can lead to traction alopecia, a type of hair loss. The hot oil treatments can also lead to inflamed hair loss which results in hair loss.

The male pattern baldness is related to the male sex hormones. It follows a hair thinning on the crown and receding hairline pattern. Baldness occurs when the hair follicle shrinks.

There are also health conditions that lead to hair loss. When your baldness is caused by a health condition, you will notice rashes, pain, redness, hair breakage or peeling of the scalp. The doctor will conduct blood tests to identify the main cause for the hair loss.

Why some people go bald though others don’t?

According to the studies of large scale genetic, it has been shown that DNA plays great part to determine if MPB will develop. The common though is that, the hair loss may be traced back to the grandfather of the person on mother’s side. Though this isn’t really true, there are some of the genetic evidences behind it. One renowned gene about hair loss is AR gene that codes for androgen receptor protein. However, other functions, where protein helps to detect androgen hormones by hair follicle cells (like testosterone) which circulate the body. Testosterone and androgens clearly creates an affect about where, when and how much the hair will grows.

AR gene is mainly located on X chromosome that means, for males, it got inherited from mother. Though it also seems to lend credibility to notion that male baldness is inherited from the maternal grandfather of the person, research also indicates that story is much complex. Recent studies have reported MPB is the polygenic condition, this means that there are various genetic variants included. In fact, various genetic variants are associated with MPB does not get situated on the sex chromosomes. While it is considered together, such variants are found to be highly predictive of the MPB development as compared to variants that are positioned for sex chromosomes.

MPB could be inherited from any side of the person’s family

Though scientists have found the variants of DNA that seem to usually predict likelihood of the development of MPB, it is not clear about minor changes in DNA will lead to hair loss. Various such variants are situated in genes that are involved in process to form and maintaining hair follicle cells that indicate such changes will affect biology of the hair follicles. Various levels of proteins are involved for maintaining and making the hair follicles, and we should also take them in consideration in case we want to find complete answer.

We cannot use DNA for predicting everything about the future of a person, but it could be used for making useful estimates about how possible it is that the person will have particular physical characters. Scientists can simply identify that how many DNA variants associated with MPB a person has, and accordingly use them for estimating the possibility of experiencing the hair loss. Usually, each gene might get associated with higher odds for being bald; however, the chances will increase with every additional variant that they inherit.

Male pattern baldness prevention

Hair loss can be very stressful there is a way you can prevent the male pattern baldness. Most baldness is cause by genetics. This kind of baldness cannot be prevented. However, if you have other types of hair loss, then here are some ways you can use to prevent it.

● Avoid tight hairstyles like ponytails or braids

● Avoid twisting, pulling or rubbing you hair

● Brush and wash your hair gently. You can use a wide toothed comb to prevent hair pulling

● Do not use harsh treatments like hot oil treatments, curling irons and hot rollers

● Avoid medications that can lead to hair loss

● Protect hair from ultraviolet light

● Ask the doctor about using a cooling cap during chemotherapy. It will help prevent hair loss

Lifestyle changes

There are some lifestyle changes you have to make if you want to prevent hair loss. These include:

● Quit smoking: smoking has some negative effects on you lungs but it can also lead to hair loss. So, quitting smoking is one way to prevent hair loss.

● Scalp massage: massage works wonders and can help with your hair loss problem. The massage stimulates hair follicles which boost hair growth.

● Balanced diet: it is crucial to have a well-balanced diet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats and limit your intake of sweets.

● Reduce the stress: Stress is one of the causes of hair loss. High stress levels can make your hair fall out. Luckily, hair loss caused by stress is temporary. However, if you do not do something sooner, it can speed up male pattern baldness. You can reduce stress by doing activities such as listening to music, walking and having more quiet time.

● Use new hair products: There are shampoos, styling agents and conditioners that are made of harsh chemicals. You can try using soft hair products that can slow down hair thinning.

Male pattern baldness treatment


It is advisable to seek for treatment option earlier to avoid further hair loss. There are medications that can be used in male pattern baldness treatment. You get effective results when you use the medications as soon as you begin to notice signs of hair thinning. If you have serious hair loss problems, you will have to go for surgery to restore it.


There are two medications that have been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss; finasteride and minoxidil. The latter enables the hair follicles to produce new hairs while the other one stops the body from producing DHT. Minoxidil is available in liquid or foam and you can buy it over the counter. You need to apply it two times in a day to prevent hair loss.

Finasteride is a pill that you have to take every day. You can only use it following a doctor’s prescription. You will see results from these drugs after a year. You have to keep taking them to maintain their benefits.


There are supplements that you can use to slow down as well as treat the hair loss problems. Even though these are not as effective as minoxidil and finastride, they can help in preventing baldness. Some of these supplements include:

● Saw palmetto: it reduces the DHT levels and slows down the male pattern baldness

● Biotin: it improves hair growth and can be used as ingredient in shampoos to prevent hair loss or as an oral supplement

● Hair loss prevention shampoo: there are plenty of hair loss prevention shampoos. Look for the ones with saw palmetto, ketoconazole, and biotin which are beneficial to the hair.

Other treatments

Hair transplant surgery: the surgery involves extracting hairs from the back of your head and transplanting them on the crown. It has to be done by someone who is qualified in hair transplant.

● Scalp pigmentation: it is a cosmetic procedure which changes the pigment of the scalp. It gives you an appearance of fuller hair on your head.

● Hair pieces: you can use hairpieces to fill in some of those thin spots. It is good choice when you want to go to an important event.