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Definition

Androgenic Alopecia is a genetic non reversible disease that leads to hair loss. It is a form of pattern baldness found both in men and women. Over time there is complete hair loss centrally on the vertex, producing a bald patch. The patch enlarges and joins the receding frontal hair line, leaving behind an island of hair on the frontal scalp. In some types of alopecia, the growth cycle is disrupted by some temporary situation such as a chemical imbalance or stress. The condition can found in individuals from their teens and upward in age. It is frequently seen by the age of forty.

Causes

The most common cause of hair loss in androgenetic alopecia is due to male pattern baldness (in men), and female pattern baldness (in woman). However it is now known that it is more specifically the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is converted from the enzyme testosterone by the enzymes 5 alpha reductase which contributes to Androgenetic Alopecia in those who are genetically predisposed. Female hair loss is caused by the constant use of ponytails or buns; and at the beginning or end of a course of birth-control pills.

In contrast to testosterone, estrogen helps hair grow faster and stay on the head longer, resulting in thicker hair. This is the reason women’s hair gets fuller during pregnancy when estrogen levels are quite high, then sheds several weeks after the baby is born.

The inheritance pattern of androgenetic alopecia is unclear because many genetic and environmental factors are likely to be involved. This condition tends to cluster in families, however, and having a close relative with patterned hair loss appears to be a risk factor for developing the condition.

Symptoms

  • Male pattern baldness. Thinning or absence of hair at the hairline and top of the head.
  • Female diffuse baldness. A gradual thinning of hair, especially on the top of the head. Hairline generally remains intact.
  • Broken hairs, or hairs easily removed
  • One or more round or oval bald patches

Treatment

Minoxidil is the best known drug in this category. Minoxidil is an oral medication used to treat refractory hypertension. It was noted to cause hypertrichosis (increased nonsexual hair growth). Mechanism by which it stimulates hair growth is unknown. Clinical trials have shown that a 2% solution applied topically to the scalp can stimulate hair growth in some men and women.

Natural treatments are always the best, as hormone replacement therapy, which is sometimes touted as an option for hair re-growth, generally has side effects.

The doctors may first suggest that the patient with androgenetic alopecia attempt regrowth with nonprescription minoxidil.

Surgical treatment of alopecia includes hair transplantation and various forms of scalp reduction and rotational movement of hair-bearing scalp. These procedures are obviously better suited for pattern alopecia than for more diffuse forms.

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