Going bald at an early age can be very demoralising. While hair fall is typically related to aging, it can also occur during late teens or early twenties, affecting the body image and personality of an individual. Such hair loss is medically known as male pattern baldness - mainly a genetic problem linked to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
What is pattern baldness?
Pattern baldness in men is a typical way of losing hair. First the hairline starts to fall back and while it does so, it also becomes thinner and shorter. Then the density of hair on top of the scalp starts to decrease. The final outcome is a shiny scalp with very few hairs remaining on both sides. Take note of the fact that pattern baldness is very different from atypical hair loss. In atypical hair loss, an individual loses hair randomly, mostly as a result of drug side effects or other health conditions. But in pattern hair fall, the causes are hormonal.
What causes hair to come off?
An adult man has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on his head and nearly 85% of the total number of hairs are growing at any given moment. The approximate rate of hair growth is an inch in every 2 months. The growth cycle of a hair strand lasts for 2-6 years, following which a brief period of static phase ensues before the hair falls off once and for all. The root from which a hair strand grows is known as the follicle. When an old hair comes off from the follicle, a new strand of hair replaces it and starts to grow from the same follicle. So for hair to grow, it is imperative that the hair follicles remain alive. When that does not happen, you experience baldness, i.e., fall of hair without regrowth.
What happens to the hair follicles with male hair loss?
When a man experiences pattern hair fall, the hair follicles become genetically sensitive to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone or DHT. Consequently, it stops responding to the hormone, which reduces longevity of hair and causes hair loss.
How can the follicles be kept alive?
To keep the follicles alive and capable of producing new hair, it is important to desensitise the follicles to DHT. Propecia finasteride is an FDA-approved prescription pill which does so quite effectively. Its active ingredient finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase blocker which blocks the DHT hormone and prevents the hair follicles from coming in touch with the hormone. This way, the hair follicles stay alive and fertile.
Important safety information about Propecia
Finasteride is not recommended for the treatment of hair loss in women. Pregnant or expecting women should handle the pill carefully to avoid direct contact with the active ingredient.
The drug can affect prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which is done for diagnosing prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor if you need to have the test done while you are taking the pill.
About 2% men reported experiencing erection problems or lack of libido. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any sexual problem after taking Propecia.
Male pattern baldness is caused by hormonal factors. A hormone called DHT affects the hair follicles and prevents new hairs from germinating. If you find yourself at the receiving end of the condition, you can take Propecia pill.