Hair loss affects millions of people each year, with pattern alopecia being one of the most common types of hair loss. Hair loss doesn’t just have an impact on your body -- it affects your mental and emotional well-being. Chances are that you and/or someone you are close to will experience the effects of pattern alopecia. Learn how to identify this type of hair loss early so you can seek one of the many treatments for pattern alopecia.
Pattern alopecia, or androgenic alopecia, affects both men and women. Most often, pattern alopecia occurs when there is a family history of the condition. There is probably a mix of environmental, hormonal and genetic factors in the development of androgenic alopecia. One of the known factors is the role that androgens play. Androgens are a type of hormone that are a part of sexual development in males and the regulation of hair growth in both males and females. Hair growth starts in the follicles under the skin. Each strand of hair comes from one follicle and grows and stays in the follicle for 2-6 years. The follicle then goes inactive for several months, after which the hair strand falls out. When androgen levels increase, the follicle has a shorter cycle of growth and produces strands of hair that are shorter and thinner. It also takes longer for the follicle to produce new strands to replace the ones that have fallen out. Certain medical conditions may lead to higher androgen levels, which in turn lead to increased chance of androgenic alopecia. For men, coronary heart disease and prostate cancer are linked to pattern alopecia, while for women, the link is with polycystic ovary syndrome.
More than 50% of men over the age of 50 have some sort of hair loss. Over 50 million men in America are affected by hair loss. Pattern alopecia can start in your teens, with increased chance of developing as you age. Typically male pattern hair loss is characterized by a receding hairline that starts with hair thinning at the temples. As the hair loss continues, the hairline makes an “m” shape. It is also common for men to have thinning hair near the top of the head. The thinning hair eventually leads to bald spots that expand over the crown of the head.
While it is more common for men to develop androgenic alopecia, there are still 30 million women in America who struggle with hair loss. Alopecia in women is more likely to start after menopause, pointing to the role that hormones play in female pattern baldness. A tell-tale symptom of androgenic alopecia in women is the widening of the part in the hair, followed by the hair thinning all over the scalp. Another one of the alopecia symptoms for a woman is hair receding at the temples. Typically, women lose about 50-100 hairs a day. Women with female pattern baldness lose many more. Men with pattern alopecia can go completely bald -- this is unlikely to happen for women with androgenic alopecia.
The reality is that pattern alopecia cannot be prevented. Nor is there an alopecia cure. But it can be treated, especially if caught early. If you see that you are losing an abnormal amount of hair, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. Hair loss from other conditions can be mistaken for male or female pattern baldness. Your dermatologist can determine the cause of your hair loss. If you have pattern alopecia, your dermatologist can point you toward an alopecia treatment that is right for you. You can take certain medications, like minoxidil (Rogaine), spironolactone, finasteride and dutasteride. Other treatments include scalp microneedling, laser therapy, platelet rich plasma, hair mesotherapy, and hair transplantation.
Call Vanguard Dermatology today to schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. Located in the greater New York City area, Vanguard Dermatology can work with you to determine the root of your hair loss and create a treatment plan uniquely suited to your needs.