Androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness, is a common condition of hair loss in both men and women. The condition causes significant hair loss that usually follows a pattern. In men, the hair loss starts above both the temples and over time the hairline recedes forming a ‘M’ shape. The crown of the head may also experience heavy hair loss or thinning leading to partial or complete baldness at the top of the head. The pattern in women is quite different than the male-pattern baldness. In this case the hair gets thinner all over the head without any change in the hairline.
The condition affects millions of men and women around the world. It can start as early as the teen years however the risk for the condition increases with age. The condition is present in about 50% of men above 50 and 13% of premenopausal women. The risk increases greatly in postmenopausal women. Normally hair grow in cycles of 2 to 6 years however in people with androgenetic alopecia, the cycles are reduce to only 6 to 8 months leading to thinner and lesser hair on the head. Also there is a delay in the growth of new hair to replace the lost hair.
In men, the condition has also been associated with conditions such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and enlargement of the prostate. In women, it has been associated with hormonal imbalance such as polycystic ovary syndrome. While androgenetic alopecia may cause complete baldness in men, it rarely leads to total baldness in women. The condition is more common in men as compared to women.
Scientists are unsure about the inheritance pattern of androgenetic alopecia as several genetic and environmental factors play role in the development of the condition. However, heredity plays a major role in the conditions as the condition tends to be more common in families that have a close relative with pattern hair loss. Androgenic alopecia in women is caused by hormonal imbalance especial that of the androgens that are typically present in only small amounts.
Currently there are three common types of treatments available for the condition.
Medicines such minoxidil and finasteride are used to treat the condition or prevent from developing further.
There are surgical options such hair transplants and scalp reduction procedures available to make up for the pattern created by the baldness..
Hair enhancers such as shampoos, mousses, and sprays are used to delay and reduce the hair loss. This is the most common approach to deal with the condition.
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