Understanding Androgenetic Alopecia
The term androgenetic alopecia generally refers to the hereditary patterned hair loss in both men and women. Hair loss normally starts at the frontotemporal region and progresses to the vertex and crown. It affects over half of men and about the same percentage of menopausal women. Studies show that the condition is more prevalent among Caucasians than any other racial groups. Androgenetic alopecia is normally asymptomatic. The affected individuals hardly notice that they have lost 30 or 40 percent of their hair since hair loss occurs gradually. It is only after losing about 50 percent of hair in the affected region of the scalp that affected individuals become aware of the condition. By the time significant amount of hair was shed off, the affected individuals may suffer from psychological distress. In finding the right treatment for androgenetic alopecia, it is important that one understands it causes.
Androgenetic alopecia is caused by the interaction of genetic factors and male hormones. The gene responsible for the condition has not been identified, but it is said to be inherited via autosomal dominant pattern. Individuals with androgenetic alopecia possess the genes that predispose the condition, and thus they are likely to experience patterned hair loss any time in their lives. The genetic predisposition for androgenetic alopecia renders the affected individuals sensitive to the action of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The presence of high levels of DHT in the androgen-dependent regions of the scalp promotes hair loss and reduces hair growth. DHT readily binds with the receptors in the hair follicles and cause the hair follicles to shrink. Shrinkage of the hair follicles results in hair loss and miniaturization of hair. The susceptibility of genetically predisposed individuals is further increased by the presence of environmental influences such as hormone therapy, exposure to radiation and high stress levels.
Androgenetic alopecia needs immediate treatment. Although the condition does not result in any serious health problem, it can badly affect the self-esteem and self-confidence of the affected individuals. Moreover, the condition is progressive. If left untreated, the condition may result in baldness. It is important to seek for the right treatment once the condition is diagnosed. Normally, doctors prescribe either minoxidil or finasteride, which are the only drugs approved for treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Minoxidil is topically applied while finasteride is taken orally. Both drugs are effective in stopping hair loss, but continuous use of these drugs is recommended to prevent resumption of hair loss.
If you are wary about the potential side effects of using drugs for a long period, then you should seek for other options. Some people with androgenetic alopecia resort to natural treatment methods such as rubbing olive oil, aloe vera extract and applying herb extracts on the affected region of the scalp. Natural methods are also effective, but you should stick with the regimen to see results. At present, there are also other natural treatments available on the market. These natural treatments come in several forms such as shampoo, conditioner, vitamins and supplements.
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