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Androgenic Alopecia - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Androgenic alopecia is the name given to the male and female common baldness. It occurs after puberty and affects all but less so in women. It is frequently seen by the age of forty. Androgenic alopecia is thought to be due to the hair growing tissue's sensitivity to hormones; this sensitivity is due to genetic factors. In androgenic alopecia the hair loss occurs slowly over years. It can start anytime after age twenty. There is usually a family history of hair loss. Several factors produce changes in the hair follicle. These changes result in the miniaturization of the terminal hair into vellus hair and results in hair loss or may lead to baldness. Males with androgenetic alopecia may have an increased incidence of myocardial infarction. An increase in benign prostatic hypertrophy has also been associated. If these associations are proven conclusively, this disorder will be of greater clinical significance. In women, the hair becomes thinner all over the head, and the hairline does not recede. Androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness.

Androgenetic alopecia is a genetically determined condition. Androgen is necessary for progression of the disorder, as it is not found in males castrated prior to puberty. Androgens are important for normal male development before birth and during puberty. Androgens also have other important functions in both males and females, such as regulating hair growth. Sudden hormonal changes when starting or stopping contraceptives, starting or ending of a pregnancy, the start of menopause, are all known to cause androgenetic alopecia. No effective treatment for Androgenic Alopecia was available till now but few medications are available now. Scalp reduction can be beneficial in some cases. It is a surgical process which involves cutting out bald area.

Causes of Androgenic alopecia

Androgenic alopecia is thought to be due to the hair growing tissue's sensitivity to hormones; this sensitivity is due to genetic factors. This is caused when the hair follicle is reduced in size and also when the time period of growth phase reduces. This means that the hair follicles are usually inactive for most of the time and after this the hair is shed once this stage is over. Androgenic alopecia often runs in families.

Common causes and risk factors of Androgenic alopecia:

  • Falling of estrogen.
  • Harmone or genetic predisposition.
  • Emotional stress.
  • High dose of Vitamin A.
  • Birth control pills.

Signs and Symptoms of Androgenic alopecia

Sign and symptoms may include the following :

  • Thinning of hair.
  • Hair loss at the crown or hairline, mild to moderate.
  • Roundish patches of hair loss on the head.

Treatment for Androgenic alopecia

While many people with male pattern baldness choose to accept the condition, there are baldness treatments which can reduce or halt hairloss, and in rare cases reverse it entirely. Treatment may include the use of antiandrogens, spironolactone, or minoxidil. Antiandrogen therapy (cyproterone acetate) used in combination with ethinyl estradiol as a contraceptive may be used for patients who are already on an oral contraceptive. Unfortunately, there are no definitive reports to confirm the efficacy of this antiandrogen in controlling androgenic alopecia in women. Spironolactone may be used in situations in which there is evidence of excess androgen levels.

Treatment may include:

  • Alopecia can be treated with drugs such as steriods creams, dithranol, or minoxidil, which may trigger hair growth.
  • Propecia is a pill that slows hair loss in men.
  • Natural alternatives such as Provillus and other hair loss treatments are also useful for some people.
  • Propecia is a new oral medication which treats androgenic alopecia.
  • Ultraviolet light therapy may also be useful.