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Restore your crown: Reversing baldness in men
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Restore your crown: Reversing baldness in men

Factors like genetic predisposition, stress and smoking can contribute to male baldness. Dietary modifications and advanced treatment modalities can help reverse the condition

Reversing baldness in men depends on detecting the root cause and then proceeding with appropriate treatment measures

Baldness is a widespread condition affecting a significant portion of the male population worldwide. However, its increasing prevalence among young men, especially in their twenties, has raised concerns. Primarily attributed to genetic factors, the condition can also stem from nutrient deficiencies, stress and smoking, making it all the more important to identify its root cause, say experts. Certain dietary adjustments, along with other advanced treatment modalities, can help reverse the condition.

Baldness in men: What are the causes?

Most men experience male pattern baldness, characterized by hair loss on top or front of the scalp. It is associated with hair follicle miniaturization (constriction of hair follicles) and results from genetic factors that cause hair thinning due to elevated levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). “DHT is the active form of testosterone that causes the hair follicles to shrink and become smaller,” explains Dr Subhashini Mohan, dermatologist, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai. With the gradual progression of baldness, the hair follicles can completely disappear, causing total hair loss in those areas over time, she adds.

Dr Ritika Shanmugam, consultant, dermatology & cosmetology, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, says while the primary cause of male pattern baldness is usually genetic, other factors like environmental influences, stress and smoking can also play a part in its development.

In some cases, baldness may be temporary. “If the condition results from certain nutrient deficiencies or a major surgery, the hair may regrow once such factors are addressed,” adds Dr Mohan. However, if it results from androgenetic hair loss (hair loss occurring due to hormonal imbalances), natural reversal may prove difficult. In such cases, a specialist should be consulted for an appropriate treatment approach.

Additionally, certain health conditions and side effects of some medications can sometimes cause hair loss as well; however, it doesn’t lead to baldness. “While there are endocrine conditions that can lead to hair loss, they typically do not cause baldness. For instance, abnormal thyroid function, whether its hypothyroidism [insufficient hormone production by the thyroid] or hyperthyroidism [excess hormone production by the thyroid], can lead to hair loss,” explains Dr Satyam Chakraborty, consultant, endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Kolkata. “However, it’s important to note that this isn’t baldness. It is merely a manifestation of such endocrine disorders.”

Baldness in men: Signs to watch out for

Dr Mohan cautions that if you notice excessive hair fall (especially in the front of your scalp), hair thinning and a gradually receding hairline, you should consult your doctor; they will detect the root cause and suggest appropriate treatment measures.

Baldness can affect mental health too

A recent study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2023 states that men with androgenetic hair loss face psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.

Those who consult specialists may be in a state of deep emotional distress, concerned about the progressive nature of their hair loss, its early onset, misdiagnosis and improper or insufficient treatment, among others. Dr Shanmugam mentions that she encounters at least one individual seeking consultation for their hair loss issue every day.

Managing baldness through diet

Dr Shanmugam says hair needs protein for growth; hence, it’s essential to ensure a protein-rich diet for hair health. Food items like eggs, oats, sprouts and millets can stimulate hair growth. In addition, vegetarians can be deficient in vitamins B12 and D, which can also lead to hair loss. Hence, this needs to be addressed at the earliest.

According to Dr Mohan, those with severe nutrient deficiencies can take supplements only after consulting a doctor. This, in turn, can help with hair growth.

Alternative treatments for reversing baldness

Besides dietary adjustments, certain medications are also used for treating baldness. They stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles and inhibit their miniaturization by lowering DHT levels.

In addition, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can also be administered in combination with the medications, based on the advice of a specialist. It inhibits the conversion of testosterone into DHT. However, it needs to be administered regularly to get the desired result.

Transplantation, where hair follicles are moved from one part of the scalp to another, is typically considered the last resort for those unsatisfied with other treatment options. While it does not require repeated treatment cycles, it is much more expensive compared to the other treatment modalities.

Reversing baldness: Exploring future prospects

Currently, extensive research is being carried out on hair cloning – a technique based around the concept of multiplying an individual’s hair follicle stem cells outside of their bodies and re-implanting them into their scalp. Once it becomes feasible, damaged hair follicles can be continuously replaced with new ones. However, further studies are required to validate its effectiveness and address any potential side effects.

Takeaways

  • Baldness in men can result from genetic factors that cause hair thinning due to high DHT levels. In addition, factors like nutrient deficiency, stress and smoking can also contribute to its development.
  • Incorporating protein and vitamin-rich foods into your diet can promote hair health. In case of a severe deficiency, one can take supplements only after consulting a doctor.
  • Besides dietary modifications, medications (like minoxidil and finasteride), PRP (combined with the medications) and hair transplantation are the available treatment modalities for reversing baldness.

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