Hair loss: Dr Ranj discusses causes of male pattern baldness
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Hair loss comes in many forms but one of the most common is male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness is thought to be caused by an interplay of factors: androgens (sex hormones), genetics and age. Hair loss treatments aimed at treating male pattern baldness therefore have their work cut out.
Treatments for male pattern baldness have often turned up in surprising places and one that should raise a few eyebrows is caffeine shampoo.
A study conducted at the Center for Cosmetic Research of Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy, sought to examine the efficacy of a caffeine-based shampoo.
As the study researchers pointed out, it is not known exactly how caffeine stimulates hair growth, but it appears to directly increase the growth of hair as well as possibly helping to block the effects of testosterone within the skin – a key driver of male pattern baldness.
“It is already found that caffeine penetrates via the hair follicles after two minutes and that the transdermal absorption is even faster than other pathways for absorption,” they wrote.
The researchers sought to put caffeine’s properties to the test.
Thirty male subjects, aged from 18 to 55 with a mean age of 37, had to apply seven millilitres of caffeine shampoo to the scalp and hair at home, once per day for six months.
The shampoo was left on the scalp to take effect for two minutes and then rinsed out.
The test volunteers were not allowed to use any other shampoo, to bleach the hair or to alter environmental conditions (vitamin intake, change of diet etc).
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The experimental area of scalp skin was examined before, then after three and six months of shampoo application to evaluate the intensity of hair loss.
Furthermore, the description of the cosmetic efficacy was made with a self-assessed dermatological questionnaire before and then after three and six months of shampoo application.
So, what did the researchers find out?
The caffeine shampoo showed a very good skin compatibility after application under normal conditions of use.
The test subjects stated no sensation of discomfort due to caffeine shampoo.
Furthermore, the hair pull test revealed that caffeine shampoo decreased the hairs pulled out by seven percent after three months and by 14 percent after six months of treatment and indicates an increase of hair resistance.
The hair pull test is a simple test that measures the severity of hair loss by gently tugging on strands of hair to assess the level of hair loss.
According to the dermatological questionnaire the strength of hair significantly improved and the intensity of hair loss was significantly reduced after six months of shampoo application.
Besides the improvement of hair conditions, it reduced typical scalp problems such as scalp itch, scalp dryness and scalp tension after six months of application.
Other tried and tested treatments
According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.
“Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women should not use finasteride,” warns the NHS.
Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.
“If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling,” advises the health body.
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