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Male pattern baldness is the most common form of baldness. Baldness usually starts with the hair at the temples, which gradually recedes to form an "M" shape.

It is affected by three factors, namely age, inheritance to bald early and an abundance of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the main androgen implicated in male pattern baldness. 5-alpha reductase enzyme converts the testosterone into DHT, which damages the susceptible follicles, and baldness will set in.

It affects some 25% of men in their 20’s and an astounding 2/3 of all men after the age of 60. Estimates suggest more than 80 per cent of cases are hereditary. Expenditures for hair transplantation in the United States alone exceeded $115 million in 2007, while global revenues for medical therapy for male-pattern baldness recently surpassed $405 million.

The effects of baldness can be devastating with social and psychological consequences. Men can be very sensitive about baldness. Young men in particular, who experience substantial hair loss at an early age, fall victim to low self esteem, even resulting in depression.
From a survey done in Australia in 1998 of 850 men aged between 18 and 40, a quarter of these men reported low self-esteem as a result of losing their hair and one fifth of them felt less attractive. A massive three quarters of them believed that balding men looked older than non-balding men. A further 16% of them felt inferior compared to men with no hair loss.

Common treatment options for male pattern baldness

Baldness is a normal part of the ageing process for most men. No treatment is needed by most affected men. For some men, baldness can be distressing, particularly if it is excessive or occurs early in life. Treatment may then help. Today, there are a myriad of options the customers can choose from to suit their individual and specific needs.

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

It is a solution that is applied directly to the scalp to initiate growth in the hair follicles. It was the hair medication of choice for years, because in many men it not only slowed down the process of hair loss but also could grow new hair follicles. Evidence shows that minoxidil is effective in frontal areas of the scalp, and not just in the vertex area in male-pattern hair loss. But the previous degree of hair loss returns when you stop applying the solution. Most patients found the 5% solution more effective than the 3% variant, but this could sometimes be irritating and have a greasy feel. Side-effects are uncommon. For example, skin irritation or a rash sometimes occurs.

Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)

It works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. The hair follicles are then not affected by this hormone, and can enlarge back to normal. Propecia has been found to be very effective in slowing hair loss than promoting new hair growth, but its effectiveness in this regard has been remarkable, making it a very popular male baldness treatment. The previous degree of hair loss returns when you stop taking the drug. Side-effects are uncommon. The most common is that about 2 in 100 treated men report loss of sex drive (libido).

Hair transplants

Hair transplants consist of transplanting bald resistant hair follicles from areas where the hair is continuing to grow and placing them in areas that are balding. The transplanted hair follicles will typically grow hair for a lifetime because they are genetically resistant to going bald. This can cause minor scarring in the donor areas and carries a modest risk for skin infection. The procedure usually requires multiple transplantation sessions and may be expensive. Results, however, are often excellent and permanent.

In recent years hair transplantation techniques have evolved from using large plugs and mini grafts to exclusively using large numbers of small grafts that contain from between 1 to 4 hairs.

Laser therapy

Nowadays, low level laser therapy is being used as a hair loss treatment. To treat baldness with laser light therapy, laser rays are directly applied to the scalp by a mechanical device so that red blood cells are stimulated. For hair applications, the first and most significant condition in choosing laser wavelength is depth penetration, which should be sufficient to target hair bulbs typically resting at a 5-6 mm depth.

Lasers are said to work by converting ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to ADP (adenosine diphosphate), releasing energy and causing cellular metabolic changes. During this process, additional nutrients and oxygen are provided to the scalp assisting the normal chemical processes performed by those cells, increasing overall blood circulation to follicle area and to stimulate the hair organ (nerves, muscles and growth centers of the hair follicle). Lasers, when applied to the scalp and hair, have been said to improve overall hair quality, promote hair growth, and increase hair shaft diameter.

Other treatment options

Electric pulse treatments

Electric pulse treatments are a non-surgical procedure for the treatment of hair loss. In this procedure, electric pulses or electric frequencies from a positive influence of an electrostatic field are targeted at dormant hair follicles to promote hair growth. This treatment can be a good option for individuals suffering from male or female pattern baldness, thinning hair, hair loss due to chemotherapy and hair loss due to some illnesses.

Infra red and Ultra violet light treatment

Infra red light and ultra violet light are directed at areas experiencing hair loss in order to stimulate blood circulation, increase cellular activity, and increase oxygen and nutrient supply to the hair follicle. When used properly Infra red light and UV light will both promote extended periods of hair growth and reduce the length of the resting phase in the hair growth cycle. They have only been shown to be consistently effective for the treatment of mild hair loss.

Steamer treatment

It has been shown to work on the same principle as a sauna bath; it opens the pores and allows the discharge of waste matter, and allows greater penetration of the scalp cleansers. This type of treatment could be carried out in your own bathroom with hot towels on the scalp, or in a real sauna where you get the full benefits on whole of your body. Its benefits are still unsure.

High frequency

A high frequency current (ultra violet light) which stimulates the surface of the scalp by means of massaging the cells of the scalp, also improves the process of nourishment, stimulates local blood circulation and local glandular activity, supplies heat and is soothing to the nervous system of the scalp. Its benefits are still unsure.

Scalp Massager

A properly done scalp massage can increase blood circulation to the hair follicles, increase relaxation, decrease stress, condition the scalp, and boost the strength of the hair roots. The kneading pressure applied by massage warms the skin and opens up blood vessels to increase flow and boost circulation.
Specialist shampoos and scalp tonics

Most clinics have their own range of hair tonics, shampoos and conditioners. A few top clinics sell several months course of tonic, shampoo and scalp cleanser. They are quite expensive compared to what the consumer is getting for their money. It is advised to confirm about the contents of tonics, shampoos etc. to justify the price. Ask for the three main ingredients, write them down and then make sure to consult your doctor before buying any of these products.

If the products are so good then the clinic should give you a free trial of their products, thereby you can see if they work for you, and you can go ahead and buy the products. If the clinic does not provide you with a free sample then it cannot have too much faith in its own products.

Standing on head

Twenty, thirty years ago, many renowned alternative healers used this idea to treat male hair loss. Standing on your head supposedly increases the blood flow to the area. It is believed that hair growth will be achieved by causing optimum blood flow to the scalp. No expensive equipment is actually needed for you to try out this method. You can simply lie on a bed and allow you head to overhang the end or you can place a plank of wood on an incline and lie on that. Even easier is to stand on your head against a wall. The recommended time for this exercise is thirty seconds once a day.

  • www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/mu-rdb100708.php
  • www.buzzle.com/articles/alternative-hair-loss-treatment.html
  • www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001177.htm
  • www.newhair.com/treatment/other-laser-therapy.asp
  • www.stophairlossnow.co.uk/OtherTreatments.htm