Baldness is very common, affecting as many as 50% of men before they reach the age of 50. By far the most common type of baldness is male pattern baldness, which is named as such because the process of hair loss follows a very distinctive pattern. The hair first begins to thin at the crown of the head and the temples, gradually forming a bald spot. At the end of this process, a man will be left with a ring of hair in a distinctive horseshoe shape around the sides and back of the head. Male pattern baldness is also known as androgenic alopecia.
Causes of baldness
Male pattern baldness happens to men who have a genetic sensitivity to particular androgens. The androgen in question is called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and is a by-product of testosterone. The hair follicles of those men who are genetically sensitive to DHT will shrink as the DHT circulates in the blood, to the point where it is no longer possible for new hairs to grow. This does not mean that the hair follicles have died, but simply that they are no longer able to perform their role.
Treatment for baldness
Male pattern baldness is not curable at this time, but there is a range of treatment options available to men to help them manage, control and reduce the effects of hair loss. Over the counter treatments usually take the form of lotions and creams which are often not very effective, despite being relatively cheap. Surgery is also an option, though it is very expensive and usually requires repeat procedures. There is only one prescription medication available to treat hair loss, and that is Propecia, which is clinically proven to stop the process of hair loss and encourage regrowth of hairs.