Is My Hair Loss Male Pattern Baldness or Something Else?'

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Question: I have been considering a consultation since October but my primary care physicians continue to tell me that even though my mother’s father and her brothers all lost their hair, I am not currently experiencing MPB. I am assuming the reason that they won’t label this as MPB is because I go through un-explainable periods of extreme shedding and inflammation and then periods of regrowth where my hairline will regrow hair eventually.

We have even witnessed that after taking a large amount of Benadryl for 5 weeks I was growing hair lower on my forehead and temples than I have had in quite some time. The other comment my physician made was that I have randomized thinning and patchy hair-loss all over my sides and back of my head and widow’s peak (as if someone took a bite out of my widow’s peak on one side near the tip), but my hair is actually the thickest on top and my crown hasn’t changed in years, even though it’s always thinner.

Hair Loss Caused by Stress and DepressionI do suffer from autoimmune disorders, but I’m concerned that they’re giving those conditions too much credit and not considering my family history of MPB on my mother’s side.

Is it normal for early stages of MPB to go through completely random mass-shedding and regrowth cycles, along with actual forehead hairline regrowth? I feel like I keep going from balding back to normal, and back again. I either want to aggressively address this now, or dismiss the issue for good.

Answer: Hi, Jordan. There appear to be a lot of possible factors at work here so we cannot determine the precise cause of your hair loss from just this information.

We would highly recommend having a consultation - it is a free, no obligation service regardless of whether you come to one of our clinics for an in-person assessment or whether you complete an online consultation - so that a specialist can get a good look at what is going on.

In general terms, male pattern baldness can start as a temporary form of shedding known as Telogen Effluvium which can be acute or chronic. It can be brought on by underlying illnesses, as a side effect of medication or due to stress, as well as many other triggers. The determining factor whether or not it is MPB is if the hair started to thin around the temples, on top and/or around the crown area. As you note that these areas remain thick it is unlikely to be Male Pattern Baldness.

As a point of interest, Male Pattern Baldness does not just come from your mother's side - it is thought to be passed on from both sides, although recent research also finds that it is more likely to be inherited from the father's side of the family. It is also possible to be a carrier of the gene but for the gene to be inactive and therefore no hair loss to be evident. This is why genetic hair loss can sometimes appear to skip a generation. Also, you don't mention how old you are so it could simply be that you do carry an active MPB gene but that it has not yet been triggered.

When you say that you have a “chunk of hair coming out” this is also inconsistent with a male pattern hair loss diagnosis. It points to a possible case of Alopecia Areata - an autoimmune hair loss condition which, as a sufferer of various autoimmune disorders, may increase your chance of developing this condition too. Alopecia Areata presents as rounded bald patches which appear suddenly, anywhere on the scalp. This could explain the 'chunk' missing from your widow's peak.

There are effective Alopecia Areata treatment options available but first it is obviously necessary to get a confirmed diagnosis of precisely what is causing your hair loss as it is possible to have more than one condition at once. If this is the case then a bespoke hair loss treatment course can be devised in order to address all concerns simultaneously, if necessary.

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