Androgenic Alopecia: Causes and Remedies

Do you notice a significant amount of hair fall when you take a shower? Has your frontal hair formed an “M” shape? Do you have thinning hair? Are you suffering from severe hair loss?

If all your answers are “Yes”, you may need to go to your doctor and seek advice and medical treatments. Your symptoms look like you have androgenic alopecia.

What is Androgenic Alopecia?

Androgenic alopecia, also called androgenetic alopecia, is a genetic condition that affects both men and women. It is the most common type of hair loss in men. In fact, several studies from the US National Library of Medicine have revealed that more than 50 percent of men over 50 years of age are likely to be affected by it.

hair tattoo before and after

There are a lot of genetic and environmental factors that play a role in causing androgenic alopecia. There have been a lot of studies that focus on studying the risk factors that contribute to this condition. However, most of these factors remain unknown up to this day.

There is only one thing that dermatology researchers are sure of.

Recent research has revealed that this form of hair loss is related to hormones called androgens. Specifically, the androgen called dihydrotestosterone.

What are androgens?

Androgens are the group of hormones that are responsible for regulating hair growth and sex drive. They are important for the sexual development of males before they are born and also during puberty.

Each strand of hair grows from structures under the skin called the hair follicle. Hair growth cycle continues for two to six years. Then, goes into a resting phase for several months, then eventually falls out.

The hair growth cycle starts again when the hair follicle starts to grow new hair. High levels of androgens in hair follicles leads to a shorter cycle of hair growth. Increased androgens also affect the health of the hair which results in shorter and thinner strands.

Androgen Receptors

Researchers also suspect that there are several genes that may play a role in androgenetic alopecia. However, they have confirmed that variations in the AR gene plays a major factor. The AR gene is responsible for making a protein called the androgen receptor.

Androgen receptors allow the body to respond to dihydrotestosterone and to other androgens. Certain studies suggest that AR gene variations lead to increased activity of androgen receptors in the hair follicles.

However, it is still unclear how the genetic changes increase the risk of hair loss in men and women with androgenetic alopecia.

Researchers are still investigating and looking for the connection between androgenic alopecia and other medical conditions, like coronary heart disease, prostate cancer in men, and polycystic ovary syndrome in women. Stress and hormonal imbalance, and genetics cause hair loss too.

The above-mentioned disorders are believed to be associated with elevated androgen levels. It may help to explain the reason why androgen-related hair loss occurs. There may also be other unidentified genetic and hormonal factors that may be involved.

Androgenic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in both males and females. In the US, this form of hair loss affects 50 million males and 30 million females. 

Male Pattern Baldness

Androgenic alopecia in men is also called male pattern baldness. Men with this condition may begin to suffer hair loss as early as their teens, or even younger in rare cases. It is characterized by the disappearance of hair from the forehead and the crown.

Men who have androgenic alopecia experience loss of hair in a well-defined pattern. It begins above the left and right temples. As it progresses, hair loss occurs and the hairline recedes to form an “M” shape.

male pattern baldness

Credits: Flickr

Men with male pattern hair loss usually experience their hair thinning out at the crown. In most cases, it progresses to partial or complete baldness. Male pattern baldness has also been associated with many other diseases, including coronary heart disease and prostate enlargement.

Other diseases related to male pattern hair loss are prostate cancer, insulin resistance disorders such as diabetes and obesity, and high blood pressure or hypertension.

Female Pattern Baldness

On the other hand, women who have androgenic alopecia do not experience noticeable thinning of hair until they are in their 40s, or even later. Female pattern baldness is usually characterized by the general thinning over the entire scalp. Women who have this experience extensive hair loss at the crown.

The pattern of hair loss in women is significantly different from male pattern baldness. In females, the hair all over the head becomes thinner, and they do not experience a receding hairline. Unlike male pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness.

female pattern baldness

Female Pattern Baldness Credits: Wikimedia

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, female pattern hair loss usually begins when a woman reaches her midlife, during her 40s to 60s. However, there are some recorded cases where it began earlier.

Female pattern hair loss progresses as time passes. Women with this condition continue to lose hair. However, unlike male pattern hair loss, women do not lose all of their hair. They will only experience the receding of hair near their temples.

Hair loss in women can be lessened with treatment. Treatment can prevent hair loss from getting worse and help women to regrow their hair. They may expect best results if they start treatment at the first sign of hair loss.

Female pattern hair loss is hereditary. Women with this condition inherit the genes of their mother and father, or both. Since female pattern baldness is more common after menopause, there is a possibility that hormones play a role, too.

Androgenic alopecia in women is also associated with the increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome. Stress, hormonal imbalance, weight gain, and genetics can also be some of the causes of hair loss in women.

Early Signs of Androgenic Alopecia

Seeking medical advice from healthcare professionals on the early stages of hair loss is the best thing to do. Early medical treatment can help correct hair loss.

Here are the early signs of androgenic alopecia.

Excess hair loss after shower

Losing hair after a shower is completely normal. Losing 50-100 strands after every shower is fine. However, if you notice excessive hair loss, that could be a warning sign.

If you are having extra hair in the brush or comb that is more than the normal, you should definitely seek medical advice. Identifying the cause of hair loss gives you the chance to correct the problem.

Receding Hairline

Men may notice that their hair begins to recede at the hairline on the forehead. As it progresses, it forms a letter “M”. More scalp on the frontal hairline can be seen in people with male pattern hair loss. Androgenic alopecia in men causes the classic horseshoe pattern of hair loss at the base of the scalp. 

In women, the part where they experience hair loss gets bigger as the condition progresses. Receding hairline in older women over the age of 50 is an increasingly common hair loss pattern.

Still, you must seek medical advice if you notice something which is out of the ordinary. 

Bald Spots

Another warning sign that you should seek medical advice is when you notice circular or patchy bald spots, and even on the beard, or eyebrows. Your skin may also itch before the hair actually falls out.

These bald spots may grow very slowly in one area. You may also notice a patch or a strip of hair loss within one to two days. Remember that balding is not normal, so you should check your dermatologist for medical advice.

alopecia areata bald spots

Bald Spots Credit Wikimedia

Thinning Body Hairs

Another early sign of androgenic alopecia is the thinning of body hair. People with this condition do not only lose hair on their head. Alopecia is a condition that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicle. 

Hair loss in the scalp is the most common, but it is possible to lose hair all over the body, too. Pattern baldness can cause bald spots on the eyebrows, lashes, beard, nose hairs, and even pubic hairs. In severe cases, it may eventually lead to losing hair over the entire body.

Thinning body hairs may also be a symptom of other health conditions. It is best to seek medical advice once you notice this symptom.

Hair Shedding

If you are under physical or emotional stress, hair shedding occurs. Stress triggers particular hormones that cause the hairs to loosen and eventually fall. Some health problems may also be a reason for hair shedding.

It is completely normal to shed hair from time to time, but if you notice an unusual amount of hair shedding, you must go to your dermatologist and seek medical advice and treatment.

Treatments for Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia can be treated either through medicines or surgical procedures. Here are the treatment options that are most recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Products

There are only two drugs that are US FDA-approved for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: minoxidil and finasteride.

Minoxidil

Rogaine is the most dermatologist-recommended brand of minoxidil. Minoxidil lengthens the duration of the anagen phase, which may increase the blood supply to the follicle. The user may expect regrowth at the vertex more than the frontal areas for a period of four months.

The consistent use of Minoxidil Rogaine as a topical treatment to male pattern hair loss is necessary because discontinuation of the treatment produces a rapid reversion to the balding pattern before it was treated.

Minoxidil

Treating androgenetic alopecia is not one size fits all. There are patients who respond well to a drug while there are others who don’t. Patients who respond well to minoxidil are those who have recently had an onset of androgenic alopecia and small areas of hair loss.

Minoxidil is marketed as a 2% or a 5% solution, with the 5% being more effective. A case study was conducted and it has revealed that patients who used the 5% solution for a period of three months experienced up to 45 percent of hair regrowth.

Generally, women respond better to topical minoxidil than men. 

Finasteride

Unlike the minoxidil, this one is administered orally. It is a 5-alpha reductase type 2 inhibitor, it is not an antiandrogen. Finasteride can only be used for male pattern hair loss, because if this drug is used by a pregnant woman, it can produce ambiguous genitalia in a developing male fetus. 

Recent findings show that finasteride diminishes the progression of male pattern hair loss. It has also helped stimulate the regrowth of hair in many patients.

Like the minoxidil, finasteride also affects the vertex more than the frontal hair. However, the medication has increased the regrowth of hair in the frontal area. It should also be used continuously because discontinuation of this treatment results in the gradual progression of male pattern hair loss.

Keep in mind that Finasteride has been found to negatively impact males in terms of impotence, loss of interest in sex, abnormal ejaculation, among others.

Surgical Treatment

In the past decades, dermatologists have successfully performed surgical treatments for androgenic alopecia. Aesthetics-wise, the results of surgical treatments are often satisfactory. However, surgeons are having a hard time covering the bald area with sufficient donor plugs or follicles.

Micrograft Hair Transplantation

Micrograft hair transplants can restore the hair and bring the patient a natural-looking and thicker head of hair, all while reestablishing the hairline. 

This technique is done by removing small grafts of hair which usually contains one to four strands of hair using small incisions which are stitch closed. These extracted hair follicles are then planted into the part with bald spots.

The small grafts are transplanted in a manner that mimics how the hair grows naturally, for a better aesthetic result. While this has worked for some, it is sadly not the case all the time, there are many ways hair transplants can go wrong, including infection.

Scalp reduction surgery

Scalp reduction surgery is the procedure that is done on both males and females with androgenetic alopecia, especially those who have top-hair baldness. This procedure involves moving the skin on the scalp that has hair to cover the bald spots. Skin from the sides of the head might be pulled up and stitched together if the top of the head is bald.

The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, the patient won’t have to stay overnight in the hospital. The patient can go home right after the procedure, but they would need someone to accompany them and drive them home.

Before the procedure, the doctor will give the patient general anesthesia. The procedure will start with the surgical cutting of the bald part of the scalp. The next step involves the loosening of the skin in the areas where the patient has hair. The surgeon will then pull the skin up and cover it to the balding part.

The flaps will be stitched together to keep them in place.

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)

There are medications and surgical treatment available for patients who have androgenic alopecia, but they can be costly and there have been cases when they are not effective. Surgical solutions to hair loss have negative effects like transplant scarring and aesthetic issues.

Of the options for baldness in this post, scalp micropigmentation has the best outcome for pattern alopecia if we are to consider cost, effectiveness, safety, and ease of maintenance. SMP is a non-invasive treatment that makes use of detailed micro-needles to deposit pigment into the scalp.

The results mimic the appearance of tiny hair follicles that help thicken and restore the look of fuller hair. If your hair is thinning, receding, or if you have gotten completely bald, Studio Conceal will give you the chance to feel yourself again.

hair tattoo before and after

Here is Studio Conceal, I have had many clients who got their confidence back after I restored the look of a full head of hair after alopecia, hair loss, or a receding hairline, and even camouflage transplant scarring.

With SMP, natural follicles give the look of a thicker head of hair by adding density to the thinning areas to create the illusion of healthier and thicker hair.

We use cosmetic pigmentation and state-of-the-art equipment to restore your natural hairline and add density to the thinning areas. We also make sure that our work will blend seamlessly into your existing hair.

There is one more reason why you should get Scalp Micropigmentation It requires little to no maintenance. You will always look like you freshly got a haircut. Scalp micropigmentation has changed the life of our clients in the best way possible.

Here at Studio Conceal, our aim is to help restore your confidence. Contact us for an initial online consultation.

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