Male pattern hair loss (MPHL) is a genetic condition making up 95% of all hair loss in men. It’s essential to understand how the hair follicle and the hair growth cycle work to correctly understand men’s hair loss.
We know that 80% of men gradually lose their hair over time. Here is the reason why.
The Hair Growth Cycle
The hair growth cycle has three distinct phases;
The Growth Phase (Anagen)
The growth phase of your hair generally lasts anywhere between 3-5 years, with roughly 80% of your hair follicles in this phase at any given time. Your hair is growing at a rate of 1cm per month.
The Transition Phase (Catagen)
At the end of the growth phase, the hair follicle enters a short transitional phase known as the catagen phase. Roughly 1-3% of your hair follicles are in this phase, as the follicle stops hair growth and degenerates. This lasts for about ten days before it shifts into the resting phase.
The Resting Phase (Telogen)
Lastly, your hair enters the resting phase, where the follicle remains inactive for about three months. Roughly 10-15% of your hair follicles are in this phase at any given time.
The “shedding phase” is where the hair is released, falls out, and forms part of the resting phase. Roughly 0.1% of your hair is in the shedding phase, accounting for the 75-100 hair you lose each day.
Luckily, your hair follicles have their own schedule and are in different stages at different times, ensuring all of your hair doesn’t shed simultaneously.
What’s happening in male pattern hair loss?
If you’re experiencing male pattern hair loss, a few changes are happening in the hair growth cycle that directly contributes to your thinning scalp.
- The duration of the growth phase becomes shorter with each cycle.
- The duration of the resting phase stays the same or becomes longer with each cycle.
- The growth rate (how fast the hair grows) remains the same.
The above changes result in a higher proportion of the hair in the resting phase and ultimately more hair shedding.
The reduced time in the growth phase results in shorter hairs with each cycle. Eventually, the growth phase becomes so short that the hair fails to reach the skin’s surface and bald patches begin to appear.
At the same time, miniaturisation is occurring. This is a progressive reduction in the size of the hair follicle over time. The smaller follicles produce finer hairs, reducing hair’s appearance on the scalp.
What causes these changes and how can you fix them?
The above biological processes are hormone-driven. Men suffering from male pattern hair loss have a genetic susceptibility to the hormone DHT, which is known for causing changes to the hair cycle and miniaturisation of the hair follicle.
The most effective treatments for male pattern hair loss target DHT in the hair follicle. By blocking the DHT, it’s possible to stop the miniaturisation of the hair follicle and increase the length of time the hair is in the growth phase.
These treatments need to be prescribed by a registered doctor. They are generally effective at stopping further hair loss and restoring miniaturised follicles back to their normal size, therefore thickening the hair growing out of the follicle.
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