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2 Common Risk Factors for Male Pattern Baldness

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Medically Reviewed by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD on November 18, 2020
Find out what factors can make you more likely to develop male pattern baldness.

Male pattern baldness is the most common reason guys lose their hair. If your doctor or dermatologist says you have it, they may call it androgenic or androgenetic alopecia. About 50 million men in the United States have this type of hair loss, which runs in families. 

Here are a couple of the things raise your risk for male pattern baldness.

Your Genes

Inheriting certain genes from your parents makes you more likely to get this type of hair loss. If one of your close relatives has male pattern baldness, that further raises your risk, according to MedlinePlus.

Hormones

Hormones called androgens also play a key role. Guys with male pattern baldness may have hair follicles that are sensitive to an androgen called DHT (dihydrotestosterone), Michele Green, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

DHT attaches itself to vulnerable follicles and makes them shrink, Green says. This makes it difficult for hairs to grow, and they become thinner and shorter. Over time, the shrunken follicles stop growing hair. You could inherit this sensitivity to DHT from either of your parents.

“The DHT attaches to the hair follicle at different rates,” Green says. “So, depending on the individual, some men may noticeably loose hair more quickly or slower than others.”

Your follicles can start shrinking in your teens, but it usually happens when you’re older, according tothe American Academy of Dermatology Association.

Get Help Now 

“The best treatment option is early use of topical and oral medications that halt the hormonal effect on hair follicles,” says Lisa Rhodes, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, TX. “Examples are minoxidil and finasteride.”  

In most cases,” Rhodes says, “these medicines will help thicken up follicles that have started to shrink.” If you stop taking minoxidil or finasteride, though, you’ll start losing your hair again.

Don’t wait. The sooner you address the symptoms of male pattern baldness, the more likely you are to regrow hair. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.