Male Pattern Hair Loss and the Hair Follicle

Male pattern hair loss (MPHL) is a genetic condition making up 95% of all hair loss in men. To understand it correctly it is important to understand how the hair follicle and the hair growth cycle work. We all know that 80% of men gradually lose their hair over time, here is the reason why.

The Hair Growth Cycle

The hair growth cycle has three distinct phases;

Anagen Phase "Growth"

The growth phase of your hair generally lasts anywhere between 3-5 years. Around 80% of hair follicles are in this phase and during this time hair is growing at a rate of approximately 1cm per month.

Catagen Phase

At the end of the growth phase the hair follicle enters a short transitional phase known as the catagen phase. Roughly 1-3% of hair follicles are in this phase as the follicles stop hair growth and degenerate. This last for about 10 days before it shifts into the resting phase.

Telogen Phase "Resting"

Lastly your hair enters the resting phase where the follicle remains inactive for about 3 months. The follicles on the head have 10-15% in this phase at any given time. The "shedding phase" is where the hair is released and falls out and forms part of the resting phase. Roughly 0.1% of your hair is in the shedding phase, accounting for the 75-100 hair you lose each day.

Luckily, your hair follicles have their own time schedule and are in different stages at different times ensuring all of you hair does not shed at the same time.

What does the hair growth cycle have to do with mens hair loss?

In male pattern hair loss the the following is occurring in the hair follicle;

  1. Duration of the growth phase becomes shorter with each cycle.
  2. Duration of the resting phase stays the same or becomes longer with each cycle.
  3. Growth rate (how fast the hair grows) remains the same.

This results in a higher proportion of the hair in the resting phase and ultimately more hair shedding.

The shortened time in the growth phase results in shorter hairs being produced with each cycle. Eventually the growth phase becomes so short that the growing hair fails to reach the length to make it to the surface of the skin.

At the same time, there is also a process know as miniturisation occurring.  This is a progressive reduction in the size of the hair follicle over time. The smaller follicles produce finer hairs reducing the appearance of hair on the scalp.

Miniturisation

The combination of the above changes in the hair follicle result in shorter thinner hairs being produced to the point where the hair can no longer be seen and bald patches begin to appear.

What causes these changes to the hair follicle?

The above biological processes are hormone driven. Men suffering from male pattern hair loss have a genetic susceptibility to the hormone DHT, which is known for causing the changes to the phases of the hair cycle and miniturisation of the hair follicle.

If you would like to know more about male pattern hair loss schedule a call with one of our practitioners. We can assess your current situation and determine what approach is right for you.

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