PREMATURE HAIR LOSS in men also known as MALE PATTERN BALDNESS or MALE ANDROGENITIC ALOPECIA is increasingly becoming common among men as they age.
Many men especially below 30 years of age find it a distressing and a depressing event. An increasing number of them are daily seeking treatment to prevent further hair loss and reverse the process.
Your hair is made of a tough protein called keratin that is produced in the hair follicles of the outer layer of the skin. The hair follicle anchors each hair into the skin. These follicles produce new hair cells while old cells are pushed out through the skin surface of the skin.
Blood vessels nourish the cells in the hair bulb, and deliver hormones that modify hair growth and structure at different times of life.
The hair you can see is a string of dead keratin cells. Your head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them each day. Because of this daily lose, it is normal to find a few stray hairs on your hairbrush.
Hair Growth Life Cycle
The life cycle of each follicle is divided into four phases:
In this phase, hair is actively growing. This active growth generally lasts between two to eight years.
This is the transitional hair growth phase in which the follicle begins shrinking. This phase lasts two to three weeks.
This phase is also known as the resting phase that lasts about two to three months. At the end of the resting phase the hair is shed and a new hair replaces it and the growing cycle starts again.
This is the shedding phase. Old hair is completely shed off as new hair is pushed to the skin surface.
Hair loss is medically known as ALOPECIA and there are several types of alopecia as described below.
This type of hair loss is described by a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown and frontal scalp. This condition is called male pattern baldness and begins as early as teenage or early 20s.
This one starts suddenly and causes patchy hair loss in children and young adults. It is attributed to autoimmunity in which the body’s immune cells start attacking hair follicles. This condition may result in complete baldness or alopecia totalis.
This is temporary hair thinning over the scalp that occurs because of changes in the growth cycle of the hair. A large number of hairs enter the resting phase at the same time resulting in the hair shedding and then thinning.
This type of hair loss is caused by inflammatory skin conditions e.g cellulitis, folliculitis, scalp injuries and burns leading to permanent hair loss. This inflammation leads to scars that destroy the ability of the hair to regenerate resulting to permanent hair loss.
This is a psychological disorder seen most frequently in children in which a person physically pulls out one's own hair due to depression or mental trauma as a sign of anger, anxiety, restlessness or frustration.
Causes of Male Pattern Baldness
1. Genetic predisposition.
Genetic factors modify the magnitude of the hair follicle response to circulating androgens. Those with a strong predisposition go bald in their teenage years, while those with a weak predisposition may not go bald until they are in their 60s or 70s. Fewer than 15% of men have little or no baldness by the age of 70.
2. Androgen hormones.
The bulb at the base of the hair follicle has hormonal receptors which are sensitive to male hormones that modify the life of the hair follicles.
DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE or DHT is the strongest hormone amongst the androgen hormones and is considered a pure androgen because it cannot be converted into estrogen. DHT is converted from Testosterone by an enzyme known as 5 alpha-reductase enzyme.
Men with premature baldness have higher circulating levels of an enzyme known as 5 alpha-reductase and androgen receptors in bulb of the hair follicle.
DHT plays an important role in the sexual development of males.
Promotes prostate growth,
Sebaceous gland activity,
Male pattern baldness,
Body, facial and pubic hair growth.
In male pattern baldness, DHT hormone binds to the androgen receptors in the bulb of the hair follicle causing downstream activation of the anagen phase.
This activation shortens the anagen phase or growth phase in the normal hair growth cycle, resulting in thinner and shorter hair follicles which in the end may not even penetrate through the skin surface.
The signs of Male Pattern hair loss
Thinning hair on the scalp
A receding hairline
A horseshoe-shaped pattern that leaves the crown of the head exposed
Hair colour changes.
Treatment and Prevention of Premature Hair loss.
A number of options are available to balding men. However, since Male Pattern Baldness is not life threatening and the morbidity are negligible, a reasonable option is to have no medical treatment and allow the balding to progress naturally. This is what the vast majority of men prefer to choose..
5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are drugs prescribed by doctors in the treatment of conditions that have excessive DHT activity. These conditions are:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Hirsutism - Excess male pattern hair growth in women.
Cancer of the Prostate.
Androgenic Alopecia (male pattern hair loss),
These drugs work by blocking the 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, thereby reducing DHT production in tissues.
The most common drugs are Finasteride and Dutasteride. However, these drugs may lower libido and sexual function in men.
Natural remedies to prevent premature hair loss.
There are three proven natural strategies for maintaining the length, integrity and life cycle of hair growth hence preventing premature hair loss.
To increase blood circulation in the scalp.
Adequate essential nutrients.
Reduction of Dihydrotestosterone hormone.
1. Increasing Blood circulation in the scalp
Adequate blood circulation in the scalp ensures that your scalp receives all the essential nutrients and oxygen to be healthy.
This therefore helps in the anagen phase of the hair life cycle, making them grow longer and stronger hence decreasing hair loss.
Here described below are simple remedies to improve blood circulation in the scalp:
Regular scalp massage increases hair thickness by stretching the cells of the hair follicles. A scalp massage dilates the blood vessels below the skin thereby encouraging healthier hair growth. It is even better to use hair growth stimulators and essential oils to do the massaging.
A daily cold shower
A cold shower on the scalp stimulates the circulation of blood in the scalp. A cold shower closes cuticles and locks in moisture to prevent follicle breakage.
2. Essential nutrients
Diet plays an important role in promoting the integrity of the hair’s life cycle. The hair itself is a tough protein called keratin while its strength is maintained by collagen and silica. To prevent premature hair loss and consequently Male Pattern Baldness, the hair needs the following essential nutrients:
Vitamin C for collagen and Keratin.
Silica for strengthening the structure of the hair.
Copper for hair pigmentation.
Vitamin H (Biotin)
The foods listed below will provide in plenty the nutrients needed for hair health.
3. Reducing DHT
Working towards reducing the effect of DHT on follicle receptors will evidently slow the miniaturization of hair.
You can do the following to achieve the reduction of DHT activation on the hair follicles.
Sleep for at least 7 hours and reduce stress.
Use of DHT blocker supplement like Saw Palmetto.
Walking in the sun.
These are the natural remedies to help anyone struggling with premature hair loss. These remedies will reverse or slow hair loss depending on the type of alopecia and the cause.
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