Dr. Dow B. Stough IV: Hello! I am Dr. Dow Stough, a volunteer physician with the Hair Foundation. Today, we'd like to discuss common baldness in men. Now we all think having hair is normal and losing its abnormal. Yes, we like to keep our hair for the most part. However, the principal cause of hair loss in men is not unusual and it's not abnormal. It's an expected consequence of many adult men. It's not due to hats. It's not due to stress, or diet, or lack of vitamins. It's a very normal phenomenon. Immense hair loss ranges from being virtually undetectable in the early stages to being very noticeable such as balding over most of the scalp in its later stages.
The cause of hair loss in medical terms is known as Androgenic alopecia or male pattern hair loss. In this process, a mature hair changes to vellus hair or peach fuzz. Men don't suddenly wake up one day without hair. The hair itself undergoes a process where it becomes shorter in length and smaller in diameter. So mature or terminal hair is hair that's in active growth phase and it's not affected by male pattern baldness, but vellus hair is hair that has become miniaturized. That's the medical term for this process that takes place. Its fine, it's lighter in color, and it shorter than mature or terminal hair. So when this occurs, most men begin to notice some thinning and they naturally become concerned. In 50% of men at age 50, there will be some hair loss. So this is a very common problem. Male pattern hair loss is not directly associated with the age though. There is indirect association and that balding that begins at age 20 in men does not always progress to an advanced type by age 50. Instead, the process may progress very slowly or in some men rapidly, and it may not ever progress to a severe stage.
The pattern that it will follow does have some limited predictability by looking back at the hair loss of men in your family. However, that's not a completely reliable source in predicting your own eventual loss.
Male pattern hair loss is caused by the genes that you get from your mother and your father, and so that's called your genetic predisposition. Hair loss can run in families, but it's an absolute myth that if your mother's father lost his hair, then you will too, because once again, it's your unique set of genes from both your mother and your father that will determine your balding potential, not just one individual in your family, although, your genes need hormones to start this process. We don't know the entire story and we're still unraveling the complete mystery of male pattern hair loss.
But once you've determined that you do have common baldness and it's bothering you, you can then begin the research to find a physician who specializes in hair loss and one that might help you. To learn more about hair loss and your treatment options, please visit our website hairfoundation.