Progressive loss of hair from the scalp, often in a characteristic pattern
- More common over the age of 30
- Much more common in males
- Often runs in families
- Lifestyle is not a significant factor
In male-pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia, hair is lost over several years, first from the temples and then from the crown, leaving a rim of hair around the scalp. The condition is very common in men over the age of 30 but may develop much earlier. In rare cases, it begins during puberty. This type of male-pattern baldness is often progressive and is thought to be caused by hypersensitivity of the follicles to the male sex hormone testosterone. There may be a family history of baldness in the male relatives on the mother’s side.
Male-pattern baldness also occurs in women but is less common. Hair loss in women is usually due to hormonal disturbances, in particular those that take place after the menopause. In these cases, thinning is more generalized.
Your doctor may arrange for you to have tests to look for an underlying health problem (see Alopecia). Over-the-counter solutions containing the substance minoxidil may stimulate regrowth temporarily, but new hair disappears when treatment is stopped. A more permanent way to replace hair in male-pattern baldness is by having a hair transplant.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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