Male Hair Loss

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Guys, are you wondering where your hair went? More importantly, are you wondering what you can do about it? Hair restoration expert Craig L. Ziering, DO, answered questions about male hair loss on July 6, 2005.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Ziering. Thank you for joining us today. What are the primary causes for hair loss in men?

ZIERING:
The primary cause of hair loss is genetics. That's inherited or androgenic hair loss and makes up the majority. There are some medical reasons as well, and that can be related to thyroid conditions, anemia or skin disorders such as Lupus. Another common cause is alopecia areata, which is like an autoimmune condition -- the body recognizes its own hair as foreign and causes the hair to fall out.

By far the greatest reason is the genetic cause and it's inherited from either the mother or fathers' side, and that's where the DHT that comes from testosterone attacks the hair follicles, which results in miniaturization of hair follicles and hair loss. It's important to understand that this hair loss is progressive. So if you have it, it's best to treat it earlier than later.

MEMBER QUESTION:
If a man takes testosterone, will that speed up the hair loss?

ZIERING:
Hair loss is not so much a factor of the amount of testosterone but the fact that testosterone is present and gets converted to DHT -- that's the bad actor.

If you take certain steroids, such as in body building, you can increase the rate of loss or potentiate or initiate an inherited form of hair loss that is waiting to take place -- you can advance it or initiate it.

MODERATOR:
Once the process of hair loss starts, can it be stopped?

ZIERING:
Hair loss itself, by nature, is progressive, which means it continues. To stop it we can use medications. There are two FDA-approved medications for men. Rogaine, or minoxidil, which is a topical product, liquid, which is applied directly to the scalp twice a day, and Propecia or finasteride, which is an oral pill taken once a day.

These medications work alone or even better, in conjunction to stop the progressive nature of hair loss and in many patients, are able to reverse some of the miniaturization of the hair follicles. However, only hair transplantation is the permanent solution to hair loss.

"Some confusion comes from the fact there are hair "thickeners" which add moisture to the hair shaft and seal in moisture and therefore create the appearance of thicker, fuller hair, which is beneficial but does not grow new hair."

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do topical sprays which purport to bring blood to the surface of the scalp work to regrow hair?

ZIERING:
Many over-the-counter preparations claim to restore hair or regrow hair. However only the two that we mentioned have been approved by the FDA and have been studied in double blind clinical trials with proven benefits.

Some products contain the topical preparation minoxidil in them; if they do --as an ingredient -- they will get the benefit of that ingredient as if it was used alone.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What about shampoo treatments?