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Officially know as androgenetic alopecia, it’s the most common type of progressive hair loss. It’s caused by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in genetically susceptible individuals.
The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) explained DHT messes with the hair follicles.
This in turn produces smaller, shorter and lighter hair strands growing from the affected hair follicles.
This continues to happen until the hair follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
You only need to look at the hair of close relatives to see how likely you’re going to be affected by androgenetic alopecia.
The first sign of this type of hair loss is a receding hairline (which can begin any time after puberty).
“There is no cure for androgenetic alopecia,” asserted the BAD. However, the progression of the condition can span “several decades”.
Alternatively, the earlier the age of onset, the quicker the rate of progression may be.
Hair loss treatments
A licensed topical treatment includes applying minoxidil solution to the scalp.
It’s available in two different strengths – two and five percent minoxidil.
The BAD testified that minoxidil can “help to slow down the progression” of the condition.
Moreover, it can “partially restore hair in a small proportion of males and females”.
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Although an inexpensive treatment option, it does have its limitations, as the BAD noted it “seldom produces a worthwhile long-term improvement”.
For those who respond well to minoxidil treatment, they will need to continue using the product if they want to see results.
This is because the benefit is only maintained for as long as treatment is used.
Another drawback is that some people may experience an allergic reaction to the product.
An oral treatment option includes finasteride tablets, which reduce the levels of DHT in the body.
This “may slow hair loss and possibly help regrowth of hair”, however it takes between three to six months of continuous treatment before the benefit is realised.
Side effects of the treatment can include decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.
If the treatment is stopped, any beneficial effects on hair growth will be lost within 12 months of discontinuing treatment.
Another option is described as “cosmetic camouflage”; this involves pigmented sprays that can help disguise the condition.
However, it may wash away if the hair gets wet (during perspiration, or coming in contact with rain).
The application only tends to last until the hair is brushed or you wash the hair.
Surgical treatment is available, but it’s not funded by the NHS and can be a costly option.
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