How to treat male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness can be treated in a number of ways. Treatment is most successful when started in the early stages of the condition as it is easier to slow or stop hair loss than create hair regrowth.
The right treatment for you will depend on where your male pattern baldness falls on the Norwood scale.
Treatments for male pattern baldness include:
- over the counter treatments
- laser treatment
- prescription medications
- lifestyle changes
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available as a foam or liquid that is applied directly to your scalp. It works by stopping your hair from getting thinner and promoting the growth of new hair on the top of your scalp. You can buy minoxidil over the counter without a prescription either on its own or in combination with other treatments. You may need to use minoxidil for around three to six months before you see any results.
Low-level laser therapy, also known as red light therapy or cold laser therapy claims to promote hair growth by increasing blood supply to the scalp and stimulating hair follicles. While some studies appear to show that laser therapy is a safe and effective treatment for hair loss, the results are inconclusive, and more research is needed.
If your hair loss is severe, or if you have tried over-the-counter treatments without success, your doctor may prescribe a medication called finasteride (Propecia).
You take finasteride as a tablet once a day. It is also available as a topical treatment that is applied directly to the scalp. Finasteride is an effective treatment for male pattern baldness, however, the medication may cause unwanted side effects such as reduced sex drive and erectile dysfunction (impotence) in some men.
There are several procedures for hair loss. These may be the best option for you if you have a high degree of male pattern baldness and significant hair loss.
Procedures for male pattern baldness include:
- micro pigmentation — during this procedure, tiny tattoos are applied to the scalp to give the appearance of a shaved head
- hair transplant — this procedure involves moving hair-producing follicles from one part of the scalp to an area where hair has been lost
- scalp reduction surgery — areas of bald scalp are removed, and the edges of the areas with hair are stitched together; this may be done in combination with a hair transplant
- scalp expansion surgery — during this procedure, a device is placed under the scalp to stretch the skin and reduce the appearance of bald areas; it may be done as part of scalp reduction surgery, or on its own
- micro-needling — a roller containing hundreds of tiny needles is applied to the skin to cause minor injuries; as the body repairs the injuries it is thought to stimulate hair growth
- platelet-rich plasma (PRP) — this is a relatively new treatment for hair loss that involves taking a sample of your blood, separating the platelet-rich plasma in a centrifuge, and injecting it into your scalp; the procedure is thought to increase blood supply to the hair follicle resulting in thicker hair, but more research is needed
Male pattern baldness is largely genetic, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of developing the condition or slow its progression.
Some things you can do to keep your hair healthy include:
- follow a healthy, balanced diet containing enough essential vitamins and minerals including zinc and iron
- avoid “crash” or extreme diets
- don’t smoke
- reduce stress
- reduce your exposure to pollution and chemicals like chlorine
- limit sun exposure, or wear a hat when in the sun
- limit your use of hair products and shampoos that contain harsh chemicals