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A must-read for every Singaporean male: 10 things you should know about hair loss.

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A hair-raising fact: approximately 1 in 2 men will experience some form of balding in their lifetime. [1] This is largely due to genetic reasons and the funny thing is, hair loss in men follows a known pattern. That is also why androgenetic alopecia – or genetic hair loss – is also termed as male pattern hair loss.

The pattern is as follows: your hairline starts to recede to form an “M” shape and then hair also starts thinning above your temples on both sides. As your hairline creeps upward slowly but surely, hair starts thinning significantly at the crown, atop of your head. The bald patch would enlarge and spread from there. [2]

It is said that 95% of hair loss cases in Singaporean men are due to male pattern hair loss. This is getting serious, guys.

“10 things you must know about male pattern hair loss”

We’ve put together 10 things you need to read about to prevent male pattern hair loss. The best way to curb hair loss is to protect the hair on your head that you already have, and not panic when you’ve lost almost all of your precious locks!

1. How do you know you’re going bald? 

Trust me, it’s not a trick question. It doesn’t mean that if you’re losing hair, you’re going bald. If your hair is growing back to replace those lost hair, you’ll be perfectly fine. In this way, male pattern hair loss is more of a hair growth problem than a hair loss problem, if you ask me.

Here are a few surefire ways to know:

  • Check your hairline – is it receding? The best way to do this is to take pictures of your hairline regularly and compare those pictures. Your eyes are not the best judge (optical illusions, anyone?)
  • Check if your hairline is slowly forming an “M” shape. If the “M” is getting more pronounced, it’s almost definite that you have male pattern hair loss.
  • Check if you have bald patches. This means your hair is not growing back where you’ve lost it.

2. What is the main cause of hair loss? 

As mentioned earlier, 95% of hair loss in Singaporean males is due to hereditary reasons – in particular, related to the male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). So yes, it appears that there is a hair jackpot.

The DHT hormone attacks your hair follicles, causing them to shrink and produce less hairs. Over time, hair stops being produced, resulting in hair loss. [3]

3. Stop stressing

Well, obviously we all know that stress is bad for you and your body. It is also a long-held popular belief that stress is one of the causes of hair loss. Stress is said to induce catagens and have pro-inflammatory effects on hair; which both inhibits hair growth and causes hair damage. [4]

4. Quit smoking

Smoking is another long-speculated cause of hair loss and premature greying of hair by scientists worldwide. Tobacco and other toxins in cigarettes can be harmful to hair follicles and cause damage to hormones. Researchers have found significant relationship between smoking and baldness – in particular, cigarette smoke can cause damage to DNA of the hair follicle and also damage the microvasculature of dermal hair papilla. [5]

5. Wash your hair thoroughly and with the right shampoo


Shampoo treatments have long been our default, go-to solutions when it comes to managing hair problems, such as dandruff and other scalp issues. [6] Studies have found that shampoos containing the ingredients ketoconazole and minoxidil can help to improve hair loss conditions. [7]

Try and massage the shampoo into your scalp thoroughly whenever you wash your hair. It should be left on your scalp for at least 3 to 5 minutes after it has been applied.

Additionally, research have shown that over time, scalp massage can help stimulate hair growth and hair thickness. You can also use a silicone scalp massager brush instead of your fingers to help you with the scalp massage.

6. Be gentle and pat dry your hair, instead of traumatizing it. 

Men are not the gentlest of creatures. Most men dry their hair by (very) vigorously toweling it dry.

But roughing your hair up with a towel can seriously traumatize and cause damage to your hair shafts. Traction alopecia refers to hair loss due to constantly pulling and tugging of the hair over time.

This is why hair experts have recommended gently patting down and then air drying your hair as the healthiest way to dry your hair. Be gentle with those locks before it’s too late!

7. Switch out your rougher cotton towels for microfiber ones.

When our hair is wet, it’s weaker and more susceptible to breaking. Giving our wet hair the “roughing dry” treatment with coarse-textured cotton towels can cause friction and also damage hair shafts.

Instead, switch your coarser cotton towels for microfiber ones which are much softer and gentler on your hair.

8. I’m already starting to bald. Can I treat it with medication?

There are mainly two medical proven drugs that are FDA-approved: minoxidil lotion and finasteride oral tablets. [8]

Minoxidil lotions, such as Regaine, can be bought at pharmacies like Watsons and you can apply it yourself twice daily to your hair loss areas on your scalp. Follow the instruction sheet that comes with the bottle for best results. You do need to keep applying it for 6 to 12 months to see results though and its effects would wear off as soon as you stop applying it.

Since it’s a topical cream, side effects are mild and can include scalp irritation in some cases.

Finasteride, such as Propecia, is an anti-androgen, prescription oral tablet that can be taken to block the effects of male hormones, in particular, DHT. You will need to see a doctor to take it. Taking finasteride for 3 to 6 months can help to stop further hair loss and promote hair regrowth. However, the benefits are lost once you stop using them.

Possible side effects are a reduced sex drive and erection problems.

9. What are other available treatments?

Commonly known as low-level laser light therapy (LLLT), this is an FDA-approved treatment which uses a low level (approximately wavelength of 630 to 670 nanometers) red laser light to coax hair follicles into growth phase. [9]

Research have shown these laser therapies do have a positive effect on hair regrowth and help to stimulate hair follicles. When the laser is applied to the scalp, it would send pulses of energy into hair follicles, increase blood circulation and stimulate these follicles into a regrowth phase. Repeated treatments are required to see results and hair regrowth may take up to 30 sessions. [10]

A word of caution: hair salons in Singapore are ferociously competitive and some may be somewhat of a scam, providing similar costly laser therapies using technologies which are not FDA-approved. Each laser hair therapy session costs approximately $120 to $200 per session, and because it takes many sessions, the cost can add up.

To be safe, opt for in-clinic laser treatments performed by an aesthetic doctor. In any case, you should do your full research before going for any hair treatment which promises you hair regrowth so that you know exactly what you are paying for.

10. The hair transplant option

If you have already lost a significant amount of hair, a hair transplant may be the only solution.

Hair transplants in Singapore are a tried and tested permanent solution for severe balding problems. Medical technology in this field is very advanced today and the majority of hair surgeons in Singapore uses the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) method for hair transplant.

The FUE process involves extracting hair follicular units from hair-dense sites on your scalp and planting them at hair-loss sites. It’s a scarless and painless technique which can be done in one single session or broken up into multiple sessions. [11] The prices of hair transplant in Singapore done by a specialist doctor using the FUE method typically costs around $7,000 to $10,000.

There it is! Our 10 hair tips help you maintain and keep your crowning glory. While you may now take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone in your follicle sparseness, if going bald still terrifies you – knowing that help (in the form of medical technology) is at hand can be a calming reassurance that will keep you from being too psyched out from your hair woes.

References:

[1] Godwin, R. (2018). How close is a cure for baldness? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/sep/02/hair-today-gone-tomorrow

[2] Hamilton, J. B. (1951). Patterned loss of hair in man; types and incidence. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences; 53:708-728

[3] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). Androgenetic alopecia. Genetics Home Reference. Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgenetic-alopecia#statistics

[4] Hadshiew, I. M., Foitzik, K., Arck, P. C., Paus, R. (2004). Burden of hair loss: Stress and the underestimated psychological impact of telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Volume 123, Issue 3, September 2004, Pages 455-457, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.23237.x

[5] Trueb, R. M. (2003). Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? Dermatology. 2003;206(3):189-91. DOI: 10.1159/000068894

[6] Trueb, R. M., Henry, J. P., Davis, M. G., Schwartz, J. R. (2018). International Journal of Trichology. Nov-Dec; 10(6): 262–270. doi: 10.4103/ijt.ijt_57_18

[7] Piérard-Franchimont, C., De Doncker ,P., Cauwenbergh, G., Piérard, G. E. (1998). Ketoconazole shampoo: Effect of long-term use in androgenic alopecia. Dermatology. 1998;196:474–7.

[8] Chandrashekar, B. S., Nandhini, T., Vasanth, V., Sriram, R., & Navale, S. (2015). Topical minoxidil fortified with finasteride: An account of maintenance of hair density after replacing oral finasteride. Indian dermatology online journal6(1), 17–20. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.148925

[9] Avci, P., Gupta, G. K., Clark, J., Wikonkal, N., Hamblin, M. R. (2013). Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Wiley Online Library, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1002/lsm.22170

[10] Dabek, R. J., Austen, W. G., Bojovic, B. (2019). Laser-assisted hair regrowth: fractional laser modalities for the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2019 Apr; 7(4): e2157.  doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000002157

[11] Mysore V. (2010). Hair transplantation surgery – its current status. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery3(2), 67–68. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.69013

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