Hair loss is a big talking point at the moment. MPB (Male Pattern Baldness) has some people fiercely defending the bald gentleman, flip that on its head and you have some people defending the use of MPB products. We decided to ask our specialist pharmacist, Scott, some of your main questions in a two-part series.
What causes MPB?
Hair loss in men often referred to by its medical terms ‘Male Pattern Baldness’ or ‘Androgenetic alopecia’, is a genetic condition that can be passed down from either side of the family tree. It’s a condition that leads to hair thinning caused by Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a by-product of testosterone.
DHT attaches to the hair follicles and causes them to shrink over time. This causes the hair to become thinner until some men become bald on the top of the head. At this stage, each strand is just too thin and weak to penetrate the surface of the skin.
What’s the best way to tell if you’re going bald?
The short answer: The Norwood scale.
The Norwood Scale is a set of images that depict the different stages or types of MPB.
Male hair loss can begin as early as puberty, and while some men may shed rapidly in their 20’s, others may have no detectable amount of hair loss until they are in their 50’s.
Primarily, the scale is used to assess how advanced a man’s hair loss is – the higher the number, the more advanced the loss. If you start to thin or recede early in life, there’s a good chance you’re destined to lose quite a bit of hair, so it’s best to start treatment as soon as possible.
What main medications are available for MPB?
There are various hair loss treatments and gimmicks on the market, meaning it can be confusing to know which ones will work for you.
However, there are two clinically proven MPB medications: minoxidil and finasteride. These have been shown to be safe and effective in treating hair loss in the majority of men.
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What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a topical medication that has been clinically proven for the treatment of hair loss. It is applied directly to the scalp and works by dilating blood vessels, which in turn allows more blood supply and nutrients to the hair follicles, leading to the production of thicker hairs.
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is an oral medication that has been clinically proven to treat MPB. Taken once daily, it works by preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT, the hormone responsible for shrinking hair follicles. In clinical trials, 83% of men stopped losing hair as a result of taking Finasteride regularly, and more than 66% grew hair back.
Scott McDougall (MPharm) is a clinical pharmacist and in addition to being Cornerstone’s senior in-house pharmacist, is the co-founder of The Independent Pharmacy, one of the UK’s leading independent online pharmacies.