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Androgenic Alopecia Information
1The most common cause of hair thinning or loss in humans is medically known as Andogenic/Androgenetic Alopecia. Most commonly known as male pattern balding this condition is also seen in females. Interestingly, variations of this condition are also seen in some species of apes; chimpanzees and orangutans.
Hereditary and hormone-triggered this predisposition to hair loss is inherited from an individual’s mother through genes carried on the X-chromosome. Affecting males more frequently and severely than females, this type of Alopecia is androgen-triggered. In the classic pattern of increasing baldness hair loss usually starts in the temples proceeding to hairline recession ending in complete crown baldness. Usually, hair is retained in a rim or ‘tonsure’ fashion often referred to ‘Hippocratic balding.’ Only occasionally does this type of hair loss result in total balding. Pattern balding in women manifests as a general thinning of hair over the entire scalp area without hairline recession. Dubbed ‘female pattern balding’ this pattern is also occasionally seen in males.
Although caused primarily by genetic factors, there may also be environmental factors involved in Androgenic Alopecia. What environmental factors; diet, skin care, exercise levels, etc. may contribute are, however, still under dispute by researchers. Androgens (male hormones) that are the primary trigger for hereditary balding are important for male sexual development pre-birth and into puberty. These hormones also regulate hair growth and sex drive in both males and females.
Research indicates that male pattern baldness is related to genetic sensitivity of the hair follicles to DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that causes the hair follicles to shrink, thereby preventing normal hair production and shortening the hair’s lifespan. Another theory behind pale pattern balding is that it is an anabolic effect that causes actual structural changes to the skin surface of the scalp. Research is on-going into other genetic factors that may contribute to Androgenic Alopecia. Female pattern baldness, also androgen related, is frequently related to hormonal changes that occur as a result of childbirth, menopause or ovarian cysts.
It is obvious that Androgenic Alopecia has multiple contributing factors, many of which are not yet fully understood. It is known that hair loss is directly related to genetics and hormone levels and it is suspected that age, environment and lifestyle may contribute to rate and amount of hair loss. The definitive diagnosis of Androgenic Alopecia can only be made by a physician through examination and biopsy.