What is Pattern Baldness?
Pattern baldness, otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most common reason for hair loss. The cause of pattern baldness is a combination of genetics and the activity of androgens, the hormones responsible for regulating hair growth.
Male Pattern Baldness
This is called androgenic alopecia in men, which is the most common type of hair loss. Over 50% of men over the age of 50 will be impacted in some way by baldness.
Genetics is one of the leading conditions of male pattern baldness. Having a family history of baldness is one of the leading causes of hair loss.
Can women get pattern baldness?
Yes. Both men and women can get pattern hair loss. In men, we usually see a receding hairline or bald spot in the center of the head. On the other hand, female pattern baldness shows gradual hair loss that usually starts at the crown. Oftentimes, in females, the front of the hairline is intact and does not recede.
What causes pattern hair loss?
AGA is due to the shortening of the growth phase in the hair life cycle. In the normal hair cycle, the growth phase lasts between two and seven years. Then the hair rests, falls out and a new hair is waiting to take its place in the follicle. With AGA, the growth phase is briefer, and there is a lapse between the time the hair sheds and the new hair begins. In addition, hair follicles shrink and produce short, thin, light-colored hairs—what we know as “peach fuzz.”
Signs of Pattern Baldness
Hair loss is different from your average shedding of hair. Here are some signs that can point to pattern baldness hair loss.
Thinning of Hair: This is common in both men and women. Women, it can be as simple as noticeably less hair when parting or combing. For men, this may result in a receding of the hairline.
Bald spots are occurring on your scalp: The spot is smooth and bald with no signs of hair regrowing.
Hair falls out: Hair falling out when grabbed or placed in hair ties or tight styles. Washing or pulling at the hair can leave you with handfuls or large chunks of hair.
Are you at risk for pattern baldness?
Baldness can occur at any age for men and women but is more apparent with age. Your genetics play a large role. If you do have an immediate family member with pattern baldness, it increases the risk.
Now on average, a person can lose up to 100 strands a day. If you are experiencing shedding, this can be quite normal and a part of the hair growth cycle/process.
Treatment Options for Pattern Hair Loss
Yes, it is possible to save your hair! With male and female pattern baldness, treatment is unnecessary if the patient is comfortable with their appearance. But most will opt for some way to get back the hair they enjoyed in their younger years. While there is no cure for pattern baldness, treatments can slow hair loss and cause some hair regrowth.
There are several treatments for the different forms of hair loss. Some conditions are more easily treatable than others- it depends on the underlying cause. With male and female pattern baldness, treatment is not necessary if the patient is comfortable with their appearance. While there is no cure for pattern baldness, there are treatments that can slow hair loss, and cause some hair regrowth. Treatment options include:
Minoxidil is commonly known under the brand name “Rogaine,” It was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of pattern baldness. It comes in 2% and 5% strengths and you should apply it directly to your scalp. Minoxidil is safe to use but may cause mild irritation at the application site. Also, there is a risk of hair growing in areas where you do not want it, e.g., your face. If minoxidil works for you, you will have to use it indefinitely; otherwise, you will lose your hair again.
Finasteride and dutasteride are medications that block an enzyme that converts testosterone to a more potent androgen form. There are potential side effects that your dermatologist will discuss with you before starting these medications.
Women may respond better to an anti-androgen drug such as spironolactone. This medication blocks androgen receptors and decreases testosterone levels. If a woman becomes pregnant while taking spironolactone, there is a risk of a male child being born with genital abnormalities.
Low-Level Light Therapy
Light therapy devices include a comb, hood, or helmet. In some studies, low-level light therapy showed some improvement in offsetting AGA, particularly when used in conjunction with drug therapy.
Microneedling uses very fine needles on a roller to make tiny punctures in the skin. Originally, it was used to encourage the production of collagen to enhance facial skin. Now it is used to increase penetration of topical drugs, in this case, minoxidil, making them more effective. Microneedling has since evolved to include RF Microneedling, which uses radiofrequency to improve the effectiveness of the treatment.
Today, a large majority of physicians perform follicular unit transplantation: We remove a strip of scalp from the back of the head and divided it into hundreds of tiny grafts. Each graft contains a few hairs. The surgeon plants each graft into a slit in the bald area of the scalp. Results are seen in six to eight months. Hair transplantation has garnered much success and fans over the years as people regain their confidence and natural hair again.
Cutting Edge Technology
Recent advances incorporate cutting edge technology in the treatment of hair loss. We use your body’s own blood products, like platelets and growth factors, to stimulate hair regrowth with no downtime.
Our lead physician, Dr. Ife J. Rodney MD, FAAD is a trusted board-certified dermatologist and top hair loss expert in Maryland. We are conveniently located in Fulton, MD, and serve Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Laurel and surrounding areas. We provide personalized hair loss treatment plans for all ages and all ethnicities. If you’re experiencing any unusual hair loss, contact the Hair and Scalp Center here at Eternal Dermatology right away! Call us or book online.