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Hair loss and your hormones

High levels of DHT, a male sex hormone, can lead to the most common form of baldness in men

Nearly seven in 10 men will experience some form of male-pattern hair loss according to Dr Isaac Wong, founder of The Artisan Clinic. PHOTO CREDIT: THE ARTISAN CLINIC

Hair loss is becoming more common today with men as young as 18 years old losing their hair faster and earlier. 

Nearly seven in 10 men will experience some form of male-pattern hair loss (MPHL), also known as androgenetic alopecia – the most common type of hair loss in men according to Dr Isaac Wong, founder of The Artisan Clinic, which focuses on aesthetic treatments.

The thinning of the hair usually begins at the temples and the front hairline before receding further up the scalp into an "M” shape, Dr Wong says. In the last stage, hair loss progresses to a U-shaped ring of hair at the sides and the back of the head. This is a clearly defined pattern of severity known as a Norwood Hamilton Scale. 

Genetics is largely to blame for MPHL, Dr Wong says. If a man has MPHL, chances are that his father or his father’s brothers also have it. “Hence, it’s common to see men of varying stages of hair loss at the family dinner table,” he adds.

Genes work in tandem with a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) to cause hair loss. DHT is a male hormone which is converted from testosterone by the body. It is found in both men and women, and contributes to the development of sex characteristics, such as an increase in body hair, and is closely related to sexual health 

DHT’s role in hair loss in genetically predisposed men is its tendency to trigger vulnerable receptors to begin miniaturising hair follicles on the scalp. This means the follicles in the affected areas shrink, weaken or even disappear over time. The hair becomes thinner and is shed more easily, and the follicles may eventually stop producing new hair. This results in a receding hairline and bald scalp. 

Men who do not have the “balding gene” do not have this hair loss effect even if they have high levels of DHT, Dr Wong says. In women, the link between DHT and female pattern hair loss is still being studied, and the studies have not been conclusive. 

Dr Wong notes that hair loss may have detrimental effects. “For instance, studies have found that men who suffer from MPHL are 75 per cent less confident, especially when interacting with the opposite sex,” he adds.

The Artisan Clinic offers the Artisan Hair Regrowth System developed by Dr Wong which is suitable for both male and female pattern hair loss. PHOTO CREDIT: THE ARTISAN CLINIC

Get treated early for better results 

When faced with hair loss, some men may initially resort to shampoos or hair loss centres not staffed by doctors. These options may not always resolve the issue as they are not addressing the root cause, notes Dr Wong. “Patients would find their time and finances be better spent consulting a medical professional for their hair loss issues, he adds. 

Dr Wong recommends those facing hair loss to get an appropriate medical diagnosis early and achieve better results, and to do so before the hair follicles are severely damaged or die. They ought to seek a suitable doctor and a clinic recognised by the Ministry of Health (MOH). These doctors should also have a good track record of treating hair-loss conditions. “That should be the first point of contact,” he said.

Dr Wong says most doctors, including those at his clinic, would prescribe oral medications and topical sprays and lotions for home treatments for hair loss. In addition to this, his in-clinic treatments also include low-level laser therapy, hair regrowth treatments and hair transplants. 

While oral medications are highly effective in targeting and reducing DHT in men, they may have some side effects, so patients need to discuss this with their doctors to make an informed decision, he stresses.

The main drug prescribed for MPHL is finasteride, which blocks the formation of DHT from testosterone so as to slow the balding process and prevent further hair loss, he says.

“I also prescribe Minoxidil spray that is applied on the scalp to improve blood flow and hair growth.” 

At The Artisan Clinic, a consultation with their doctors includes a detailed history taking of your symptoms and a physical examination of the scalp, which will be scanned with a trichoscope to get a close-up look at the scalp and hair follicles.

Doctors at The Artisan Clinic can devise effective and sustainable medical treatment plans to slow or halt hair loss and support hair regrowth. PHOTO CREDIT: THE ARTISAN CLINIC

Hair regrowth system and laser treatments 

The Artisan Clinic offers the Artisan Hair Regrowth System developed by Dr Wong, which he says is suitable for both male and female pattern hair loss.

“It involves a consultation, physical examination of the scalp, trichoscopy, diagnosis and home treatment with pills and sprays as well as in-clinic treatments,” Dr Wong says. Visible results can be seen as early as three months.

There is also a hair laser treatment in which hair follicles are exposed to a low-level laser for 30 minutes once a week.  

Ultimately, Dr Wong urges people to seek medical help at the first sign of hair loss to stave off further damage. Doctors can devise effective and sustainable medical treatment plans to slow or halt the hair loss and support hair regrowth. 

He emphasises, “Hair Loss is actually a medical condition, so speak to your doctor for a medical diagnosis and solution.”

For more information visit https://artisanclinic.sg/ 

*There is no conclusive scientific proof that any product (except certain registered medicinal products) or service can retard hair loss or promote hair growth.

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