When it comes to hair loss, by far the most common type is male pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia. Although men are the most common sufferers of this, women, too, can have hair loss it’s also androgenic alopecia — called, in this case, “female pattern baldness.” It’s just much more infrequent.
Regardless of who suffers from it, male pattern baldness is hereditary and passes down from generation to generation, usually through the male relatives. The culprit with this type of hair loss is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone; testosterone converts to DHT with the assistance of something called 5-alpha-reductase. It is the sensitivity to DHT that causes the hair loss. With DHT, the hair follicle eventually produces thinner and thinner hairs, until none are produced at all. With most androgenic alopecia, the common pattern is for the balding to occur on the crown of the head, with hair remaining on the back and sides of the head.
Treating androgenic alopecia: Three ways you can do it
Androgenic alopecia is hereditary and “unstoppable,” meaning that there’s nothing you can do to permanently prevent DHT from causing this type of baldness. However, there are things you can do to treat androgenic alopecia to forestall hair loss and correct the problem. Here are three popular ways to treat androgenic alopecia.
Taking supplements and herbs
Although they have a cloudy track record, some people have sworn by taking supplements like saw palmetto as a means to slow down and sometimes reverse male pattern baldness. Saw palmetto, for example, works to mitigate the effects of DHT on the hair follicles; in some cases, it can block or DHT’s effects enough that hair growth will be partially or even completely restored.
Other supplements that can strengthen the hair itself (although it does nothing for follicular dormancy) include pantothenic acid, vitamin C, copper, and folic acid. These latter supplements can usually be gotten in a good quality multivitamin mineral supplement.
Using topical DHT-neutralizing solutions
DHT combatants like Rogaine work to block DHT’s effects on the hair follicle, so that the hair itself will regrow. This doesn’t work in all cases, because if the hair follicle has been dormant for long enough, it can’t be revived so that hair can actually grow. In addition, topical DHT solutions like Rogaine only work as long as you use them; stop the treatment, and hair loss begins again. (This is also true of supplements like saw palmetto; if the supplement works for you, it will stop working for you once you quit taking it and hair loss will not be permanent.)
This is among the newest of the solutions for male pattern baldness. However, it works specifically because in most cases, androgenic alopecia only occurs in specific places on the scalp, like the top of the head, while hair growth in the back and on the sides of the head remains. With most types of surgery, hair follicles are individually transplanted from the back and sides of the scalp to the top of the head, or wherever baldness has occurred. Although a very effective solution and a permanent one, this is quite cost prohibitive, and as with any surgery, there are risks involved. Nonetheless, it has produced the only “permanent” solution to date for hair loss of this type.