Last updated: August 2023
Also known as…Male Pattern Baldness, Male Pattern Hair Loss
What is androgenetic alopecia (in men)?
Androgenetic alopecia (in men) is the term used to describe a common form of baldness in men that is slowly progressive and usually inherited.
Who gets androgenetic alopecia (in men)?
Androgenetic alopecia (in men) can affect men of any age group after puberty. Approximately 50% of men show signs of cosmetically apparent baldness by the age of 50.1
What causes androgenetic alopecia (in men)?
Most affected men have a genetic predisposition to the condition that could be inherited from either or both parents. Genes such as the androgen receptor gene have been reported to be linked to the condition.2
At the scalp level, hair follicles tend to react and shrink with time under the influence of normal levels of male hormone. This does not imply any underlying hormonal abnormalities. However, men who take anabolic steroid supplements may find that this accelerates the progression of their baldness.
What does androgenetic alopecia (in men) look like?
The pattern of baldness is easily recognisable. It usually begins with recession of the hairline at the temples and front of the scalp. This slowly advances further backwards. The hairs on the top of the scalp also become sparser. With time, the areas of baldness join. The whole scalp may be completely bald except for the back of the scalp (occipital scalp) which is usually protected from the balding process.
In Asian men, the pattern is sometimes less pronounced and hair loss can present in a more diffuse pattern.
How is androgenetic alopecia (in men) diagnosed?
This is an easily recognisable condition that can be diagnosed clinically.
How is androgenetic alopecia (in men) treated?
Treatment options will vary depending on the individual and their needs.
The aim of treatment is to slow or stop the progression of hair loss and then try to stimulate some hair regrowth. Treatment may include:
- Minoxidil lotion or oral minoxidil
- Oral finasteride or dutasteride tablets
- Cosmetics, such as synthetic keratin hair fibres
- Hair transplantation
Hair regeneration therapies, such as platelet-rich plasma injections and autologous scalp tissue micrografting are being increasingly used. However, the efficacy of these treatments varies between individuals with androgenetic alopecia (in men).
Hair tonics and nutritional supplements are of very limited benefit. Caps and hats also provide sun protection to the scalp, as well as camouflaging hair loss.
What is the likely outcome of androgenetic alopecia (in men)?
Androgenetic alopecia (in men) is mainly a cosmetic condition. It can cause significant psychological and social stress for some affected men.
This form of hair loss is a normal process of ageing in genetically predisposed men. Without treatment, the condition is likely to progress gradually. Most men come to terms with the condition with time, without the need for treatment.
Hair on the scalp provides protection against ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. Men with androgenetic alopecia (in men) may be more likely to develop skin cancer or solar keratoses on their scalp without sun protection.