Hair loss is one of the most serious problems that directly affect everyone’s self-esteem and lifestyle. It is more common in men, although women can be affected as well. Baldness can totally obsess the stronger sex, affecting every aspect of their life. The man loses his self-confidence, has low self-esteem and is easily vulnerable and sensitive to the subject of hair loss.
With the exception of the periods in which the hair is renewed and the seasonal hair loss, which is a characteristic of the change of seasons, especially in spring and summer, hair loss is not a typical phenomenon.
Unfortunately, almost 25% of men start having serious and long-lasting hair loss problems around the age of 30. It is not uncommon for partial or complete hair loss to occur around the age of twenty.
Male pattern hair loss – the characteristic hair loss in men, mainly on the scalp and to a lesser extent around it, is a condition associated with certain genetic and hormonal factors. It is entirely genetic. Its appearance is spontaneous and is not due to external influence. The time of hair loss and its rate are also genetically determined.
The dream of millions of men around the world since the beginning of time, overcoming male pattern baldness is a possibility that has become likelier than ever. Due to the huge and constantly growing contingent of potential users of a future therapy, many pharmaceutical companies, research teams and clinicians have paid considerable attention to the issue.
It turns out that baldness is not completely irreversible. In male pattern baldness, dihydrotestosterone (a metabolite of testosterone) causes a gradual shrinkage of the hair follicles, from which every hair in the human body originates. This causes thinning hair. After all, from one moment on (genetically predetermined) no new hair grows from the follicle, and baldness begins. However, it turns out that the follicle, although small, remains alive, thus making the door to hair regrowth is not completely closed.
Although hair transplants lead to an excellent and lasting result, they are still expensive and relatively invasive procedures that few men are willing to undergo. In addition, in most cases it is necessary to conduct a series of procedures to obtain the desired result.
As always, ease of use is the key to the commercial success of any therapy. So far, two drug therapies have been developed to treat male pattern baldness.
The main ingredient of the first is minoxidil, which is applied to the scalp in the form of shampoo. Although its mechanism of action for this indication is not fully understood, it is believed that it stimulates hair growth by dilating blood vessels in the scalp and stimulating hair growth. Minoxidil is most effective when baldness started less than 5 years ago and still affects a relatively small area of the scalp.
Although to some extent it causes the growth of new hair, minoxidil is most effective primarily in slowing down hair loss, not restoring lost. Young men who notice the onset of baldness should consult their doctor and discuss treatment options, as minoxidil is only available on prescription.
An alternative to minoxidil shampoo are finasteride tablets. Finasteride prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone – the “culprit” for male pattern baldness. Finasteride does not cause new hair growth, but it effectively stops the loss of existing hair. It is therefore most effective when applied in the early stages of baldness. Its use is completely unjustified in advanced or complete baldness. The reason it is not widely used is that there are a number of potential side effects that few men would put up with, the most significant of which is erectile dysfunction. It is usually transient, but can last for months, years, and in rare cases it is permanent. Finasteride is used only on prescription.
With both minoxodil and finasteride, hair loss resumes after stopping the use of the product. Prolonged use seems to be more appropriate for minoxidil, which is why it is more widely used than both products, despite its lower effectiveness.
The question of complete hair restoration, however, still remains open. Despite the lively interest and active work in the field, it is still impossible to say when it will be solved entirely by medication. For men whose hair is highly important to them, the best alternative remains vigilance – if treatment is started in the earliest stages, baldness can be avoided or at least delayed for many years.