Hair loss affects around 3 out of 5 men, the age of onset varies depending upon several factors which we will go through later on. Hair loss in men can have tremendous effect on the self-confidence and usually people try various tonics and supplements on a hit and trial basis and in the meantime spend their hard-earned money on fake products or untested cures.
First, it is important to know what causes hair fall and what medically proven treatment options are available, though it might not be possible to completely prevent or revert hair loss some therapies are quite promising.
Most of the men have Androgenic Alopecia also known as male pattern baldness, which accounts for almost 50% cases of male hair loss, this type of hairloss runs in family and causes hair loss in letter M pattern, you may initially notice receding hairline gradually progressing to the top of the scalp, genetics and sex hormones are thought to cause this type of hair loss.
Hair loss can also be secondary to other diseases e.g. Thyroid disorders, Diabetes, Lupus, Alopecia areata & psoriasis etc. Diagnosing and managing the primary disease often results in reversion of hairloss.
Nutritional disorders might also be to blame for hair loss, chief among them is Iron deficiency, unbalanced diet lacking the required minerals and vitamins may lead to hair loss.
Stress is a common but often neglected cause of hair loss, when the body is in stressful stage hair shedding is increased this is due to Telogen effluvium, hair growth has three phases, in stress the first phase in which hair growth occurs slows down and the third phase where hair loss occurs increases by around 30 %.
Some Medications have side-effects related to hair loss, Chemotherapy or Cancer medication results in hair loss, as well as some anti-depressants & blood thinners.
So what are the treatment options for men hair loss available in Pakistan?
Management of hair loss has several aspects, first the cause should be diagnosed because if there is a specific disease causing hair loss, therapy targeted towards its cure will stop hair loss hence get a check-up to rule out any medical disorders.
e.g. optimizing hormone levels in case of thyroid disorders, replacement of iron in iron deficiency, treatment of fungal or local scalp infection if present.
Care should be taken to keep your lifestyle stress-free or use strategies to manage stress: Take proper sleep, have rest during the day, exercise and engage in healthy activities. Sometimes professional help might be needed, do take that if you can’t cope with stress.
Review your diet and look are you getting a balanced diet containing proteins, healthy fats e.g. omega 3 fatty acids and natural vitamins and minerals, increase the content of iron containing foods e.g. green leafy vegetables.
Now moving over to the specific therapies available especially for Androgenic alopecia/ Male Pattern baldness.
It should be noted that male pattern baldness might not be completely curable or preventable but several therapies are now available for management.
Apart from the general measures discussed above it is recommended to use anti-dandruff therapy which leads to slowing of the hair loss. 2 treatment options are currently recommended,
1. Ketoconazole shampoo (this contains anti-fungal medications that helps control the skin fungus that causes dandruff)
2. Zinc & Selenium containing shampoos – natural minerals also help control dandruff.
3. Biotin Vitamin supplements – Biotin is a vitamin required for hair growth and is research proven in reducing hair loss.
Specific Medical Therapies:
Currently, 3 specific medical therapies are available which are medically proven to slow down or allow regain of hair.
1. Minoxidil – This is available as topical spray/ cream, it takes almost 3-6 months to see results and needs to be continued to maintain the results. Being topical medication it has lesser side-effects. It has more role in hair loss prevention and to a lesser extent in new hair growth
2. Finesteride – This a tablet you take daily, has somewhat better results than minoxidil but also comes with some unwanted side-effects that may lead to discontinuation and is only available with prescription.
3. Procapil (Biotinyl Tripepdide-1) this is a new compound that works to strengthen hair and reduce loss, but new hair growth is not reported with good evidence with its use yet. It is also a topical spray that you apply on scalp.
Surgical Therapies for hair loss treatment
Several surgical therapies are available for managing hair loss these include.
1. PRP: Platelet rich plasma injection is a process in which blood is obtained from a patient’s vein and a platelet rich portion of the blood is separated from the rest and injected into the scalp. This procedure doesn’t need any cuts or operation apart from scalp injection.
Initially, almost 3 sessions are required around 1 month apart, followed by 6 monthly maintenance sessions.
PRP also like medical therapies works mostly by reducing hair loss & new hair gain is limited, along with the need to get multiple sessions to maintain.
2. Hair Transplant:
Currently, hair transplant is the definitive treatment option that provides cure of Male Pattern Baldness. There are several techniques used e.g. FUE , FUT etc in which hair follicles are extracted from the back of scalp and transplanted on the top part.
Hair transplant surgery provides a durable result, though being a surgery has some risks as well e.g. infection & scarring, but till now it is the only treatment that provides natural hair in the bald spots and without the need of regular medications.
Research is ongoing, in the near future we might get some medical cure.
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