Male pattern baldness refers to a loss of hair on the scalp in men. It happens as hormone levels change over a man’s lifetime, and especially in the later years.
It is thought to affect 50 million men in the United States, and half of all men by the age of 50 years.
Although a natural part of the aging process for millions of men, hair loss can be psychologically distressing.
Sudden or unexpected hair loss can sometimes indicate a more serious health condition that may need medical attention.
Fast facts on male pattern baldness
Here are some key points about male pattern baldness. More detail is in the main article.
Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, typically occurs later in life as a result of changing hormone levels.
Hair loss can be psychologically distressing for men, and they may seek a variety of treatments.
Other causes of hair loss include nutritional deficiencies, infections, and some psychological conditions.
Treatments include medications, laser and light therapies, and hair transplantation.
Male pattern baldness affects half of all American men over the age of 50 years.
Men normally lose their hair when three main factors interact: genetics, age, and hormones.
Also known as androgenetic alopecia, male-pattern baldness happens as hormone levels change over the course of a man’s life.
Genetic factors also affect the likelihood of male-pattern baldness.
These factors contribute to the gradual shrinkage of the tiny cavities in the skin at the base of hairs, known as scalp hair follicles. Hair grows progressively shorter and finer until no new hairs grow.
Most white men develop some degree of baldness, according to their age and genetic makeup. Male pattern baldness affects up to half of all white men by the age of 50 years and up to 80 percent of men in the same group by the age of 70 years. Other ethnic groups, such as Chinese and Japanese, are less affected.
Men with more first- and second-degree relatives who lose their hair have a higher chance of losing hair themselves.
Treatment for male pattern baldness is available, but a full reversal is not yet possible.
Minoxidil was originally tested to treat blood pressure, but some people noticed additional hair growth as a side effect while using it. It is unclear exactly how it helps prevent hair loss.