What is Androgenic Hair Loss?
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
Are You Tired of Fighting Hair Loss? Don't Worry. Androgenic (Men Pattern Baldness) affects millions of men worldwide, yet nobody seems to know why or what causes this common condition?
In this article, we'll shed some light on androgenic hair loss and dispel any myths associated with it.
As opposed to other forms of hair loss, androgenic is typically caused by genetics and hormones.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), is responsible for this phenomenon by attaching itself to hair follicles and gradually shrinking them, eventually producing thinner and shorter strands until eventually, the follicle stops producing hair altogether.
Understanding androgenic hair loss is critical when searching for effective solutions, from over-the-counter products and prescription meds to transplant procedures and more. Here we explore all available approaches for combatting this condition.
Androgenic Hair Loss De-Mystified
Androgenic hair loss (also known as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness) is the most prevalent form of hair loss in both men and women, typically developing gradually over time and leading to the gradual thinning or balding around temples and on top of head which forms horseshoe-shaped areas of hair that eventually go bare.
Understanding androgenic hair loss
Hair loss is a normal part of aging and many people will eventually shed some locks over time.
To identify and seek appropriate treatments for different forms of hair loss. Androgenic (male or female pattern baldness), is by far the most prevalent type, affecting over 50 million men and 30 million women across America alone.
This type of hair loss is due to an alteration in hormones that control hair growth.
More specifically, changes to how your body responds to androgens (hormones that control sexual drive and development in men) leads to hair loss; specifically sensitivity caused by certain genetic variants leads to hair follicles shortening anagen cycles, shrinking in size over time until eventually even those that remain produce less new hair and gradually turn into vellus hair follicles.
Thinning can affect both men and women, though its pattern of loss differs depending on gender.
Men usually exhibit receding hairlines that form an M-shape while women usually experience crown or center part hair loss.
Causes of androgenic hair loss
Hair loss is caused by many different factors. Genetics is one such risk factor; individuals with family members living with androgenic alopecia are at an increased risk for it themselves.
Women may also be vulnerable due to hormone changes during menopause which could trigger it, as well as medical conditions affecting the scalp such as eczema or psoriasis causing scalp inflammation that leads to hair loss.
Androgenic Alopecia remains unknown, although its cause is believed to be associated with hormones known as androgens.
A rise in androgen levels may cause hair follicles to shorten their growth cycles and remain in resting phase longer than usual - leading them to exhaust themselves and eventually shrink or stop growing altogether.
Thinner hair, wider partings and even bald spots result from androgenetic alopecia (thinning hair).
Both men and women experience this pattern of thinning hair loss known as androgenetic alopecia; its progression typically begins in the center part above the forehead or on either side of temples before eventually reaching the crown area.
While rarely leading to complete baldness like it does for men, women still gradually thin or lose volume over time and this type of loss tends to be irreversible.
Symptoms and signs of androgenic hair loss
Androgenic hair loss is a prevalent condition affecting both men and women alike, typically beginning above both temples before moving toward the top of the head to form an "M" shape.
Hair loss may be further accelerated by hormonal fluctuations such as an increase in testosterone levels or pregnancy.
Hair follicles exposed to androgens are stimulated by these hormones to produce shorter, finer non-pigmented vellus hairs that eventually over time replace pigmented hair in follicles - leading to thinning and eventual baldness.
Androgenetic Alopecia typically appears gradually over time; however, it can even begin in their teenage years and affect more men than females.
Hair loss may be confused with thyroid disease; therefore a blood test is the best way to confirm or rule out this possibility.
Otherwise, performing a scalp biopsy might be necessary in some instances. If you suspect androgenic alopecia, be sure to speak to your physician regarding further testing and possible treatments options.
Difference of androgenic hair loss and other cause
Androgenic Alopecia (AA) is the most common cause of hair loss among both men and women, caused by genetic and hormonal influences.
Affecting hair follicle androgen receptors which respond to androgens by shortening anagen phase length; in turn, the hair follicles shrink down, producing thinner strands of hair over time; eventually they exhaust themselves entirely and no longer produce hair altogether, leaving fine, nonpigmented vellus hairs as the only remaining option.
Androgenetic Alopecia typically first manifests itself in both men and women during puberty.
It typically appears as a pattern of thinning that spreads from above the temples to crown and vertex of scalp; for men this can result in their hairline receding over time to form an "M" shape; some eventually go completely bald.
Androgenic Alopecia in women tends to be more subtle, often difficult to notice as it doesn't lead to receding hairlines like male pattern baldness does. Thinning can also occur on the back and sides of the head.
While exactly how androgens affect female-pattern Alopecia remains unknown, many cases are thought to run in families and often inherit the condition from generation to generation.
Risk factors for androgenic hair loss
Androgenic hair loss (sometimes known as male or female pattern baldness), is generally thought to be caused by genetics combined with androgens which play a part in puberty development and growth as well as hair growth on facial, scalp and genital areas.
Gene-related androgenic hair loss occurs when someone's follicles become sensitive to androgens such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT activates genes which shorten anagen phase hair cycles.
Over time, hair follicles become smaller until eventually they stop producing any hair at all, eventually dying off and leaving behind either scars or bald areas.
To diagnose androgenic hair loss, physicians typically conduct a physical exam of your scalp and ask about your family history and blood testing to check hormone levels.
Furthermore, they may use the Norwood-Hamilton Scale to measure severity. Androgenic Alopecia tends to be more diffuse among women and usually affects crown and frontal areas of their scalps.
Treatment options for androgenic hair loss
There are various effective treatment options for androgenic hair loss, including topical solutions, oral medications, laser therapies and surgical procedures. It is best to begin treatment as early as possible in order to maximize success.
Minoxidil (Rogaine(r)), is a highly effective topical solution designed to stimulate hair regrowth by blocking receptors responding to dihydrotestosterone hormone, which triggers hair thinning and loss in some people.
Finasteride can also help by blocking DHT production and encouraging hair follicles to grow normally again.
Both medications require a valid valid prescription from a dermatologist; therefore it would be wiser for you to consult one regarding use and potential side effects before making a decision about taking either drug.
Laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and hair transplantation may all help slow or stop hair loss in androgenic alopecia patients.
PRP uses your own blood to regenerate hair follicles, nourish multipotent stem cells, promote microcirculation in the scalp and improve microcirculation within it - an effective combination therapy for androgenic alopecia when combined with transplantation procedures.
It is best to begin treatment as soon as you notice any thinning or hair loss, particularly as soon as thinning occurs or any thinning or hair loss occurs - sooner is always best.
therapies and remedies for androgenic hair loss
Treatment options exist that can stop androgenic hair loss from progressing further, including medical, surgical, light-based and nutraceutical options. These therapies stimulate hair follicles while blocking dihydrotestosterone's action on them.
Androgenetic Alopecia occurs when genes responsive to androgens cause follicle miniaturization.
Each anagen cycle leads to smaller follicles becoming fine, short nonpigmented vellus hairs replacing pigmented terminal hairs; eventually this leads to receding hairlines for men and diffuse hair thinning in women (usually manifesting itself by way of receding hairlines or diffuse thinning with fringes of thin, stray hair on the frontal scalp).
As soon as hair loss begins, treatment should begin immediately. Finasteride or dutasteride medications specifically target androgens - including finasteride and dutasteride - may help.
These drugs inhibit an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone and may be taken once daily; alternative treatments, like minoxidil or low-level laser devices may be combined as well.
Other treatments for hair growth that may work alone or in conjunction with androgen-blocking medication include iontophoresis - which delivers low-level laser to the scalp - and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
Both approaches extract blood from your body before extracting its platelets to be concentrated before injecting back into your scalp. However, not all these approaches will work for every case of androgenic alopecia.
Androgenic hair loss is the most prevalent form of male and female hair loss, caused by genetic inheritance that leads to hair follicles (from which each individual hair grows out) becoming gradually smaller over time, due to changes in hormones controlling hair growth (particularly dihydrotestosterone or DHT) levels affecting terminal hair follicles first before nonpigmented vellus hairs replace them, leading to thinning scalp and receding hairline.
It occurs gradually over time but can be accelerated due to stress, illness or hormonal imbalances.
Men with hair loss are known to have male pattern baldness while in women it's known as female pattern baldness.
Both conditions usually start in their 20s and can progress throughout life, starting on temple areas of scalp (between ears and forehead) where it begins with hairline shifting back on head in an M shape; eventually hair thins on top and your scalp becomes sparse while hair in center widens as time progresses - something men experience first when temple hairline shifts back, while with women this thinning may begin on top.
FDA has approved two drugs to treat androgenic hair loss: minoxidil and finasteride.
Both topical treatments work differently to restore and maintain hair growth for those suffering from androgenic hair loss: Minoxidil increases anagen phase retention time while simultaneously decreasing shrinkage rates of existing anagen follicles; it also causes vellus hairs to expand into terminal hairs, slowing or even reversing progression of androgenic alopecia.