Alopecia is a reality for many men as early as thier late teens/early twenties. Treatments work for some, while others receive no help with their condition at all. we offer information to help you understand and possibly treat this condition, although more and more men are coming to terms with their baldness.

WHAT IS IT?

Hair-loss is probably the one thing that causes men more anxiety than anything else in their life. Receding hairlines and the arrival of the bald-patch are feared by men around the globe. Not even the efforts of superstars such as Bruce Willis and Andre Agassi to make baldness fashionable have succeeded in releasing men from this inherent terror.

WHAT HAPPENS?

Hair may start to disappear from the temples and the crown of the head at any time. For some men this process starts as early as the later teenage years, for most it happens in the later 20's and early 30's. Initially it may just be a little thinning that's noticed. Then, the absence of hair allows more of the scalp to become visible. Some men are not troubled by this process at all. Others, however, suffer great emotional distress associated with a lack of self-confidence and sometimes depression.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

In male pattern baldness, which is hereditary, the hair is usually lost at the temples and the crown. This happens because an over-sensitivity of the hair follicle to normal levels of testosterone switches the hair loss gene on. Not every hair follicle has this gene, which is why some hair falls out while other hair doesn't.

Other causes of hair-loss that are usually reversible include; iron deficiency anaemia; under-active thyroid; fungal scalp infection; some prescribed medicines; and stress.

CAN I STOP IT?

Yes if there's a reversible cause, e.g. anaemia, by replenishing the body's iron stores. Many men find that their hair-loss slows down or stops for no apparent reason at a certain age anyway. A huge number of treatments have been tried to slow down and even reverse the process of hair-loss – some are successful, others are not.

SHOULD I SEE DOCTOR?

It's a good idea to make sure an illness isn't responsible particularly if the hair-loss is patchy rather than being in the typical male pattern distribution. Moreover, if the hair-loss is accompanied by other symptoms such as tiredness then blood tests may be necessary.

TREATMENTS

Bizarre (and unproven) treatments include rubbing curry into the scalp or having a cow lick the scalp. Wigs and hair transplants are, obviously, the most direct form of treatment. Herbal preparations that contain zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and other substances in various combinations can help. Minoxidil is a topical scalp treatment, available from the pharmacist that improves the circulation to the scalp. It slows down the process of hair-loss and can cause new hair growth. Finasteride tablets is the latest drug treatment. It works by slowing down hair-loss and is reported to cause new hair growth.

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