While articles that you read online focus on the superficial explanation of hair loss, this article seeks to explore differences in causes of hair loss in Asian men specifically.
In our article on hair loss for men and women, we have covered the basics on the concept of the most common type of hair loss for both sexes – male and female pattern hair loss (MPHL and FPHL) specifically.
This article will delve deeper into the specifics of hair loss in Asian men, instead of providing you with information that is widely available. Terra Medical Clinic, a hair restoration practice, located in the heart of the Singapore shopping district, sees a significant population of Asian patients (as well as those of other ethnicities) and understand the differing needs of this demographic.
How common is Male Pattern Hair Loss in Asian Men?
As you may have noticed, Asian men generally do not appear to lose hair as rapidly as men of European descent.
A study done in 2012 compared the rates of MPHL across a few Asian nations – Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Korea, China and SINGAPORE. 3 main points can be surmised from this study.
- Men of Asian descent report later onset and less severe MPHL than European men (except in the case of Thailand)
- The highest rate of MPHL was reported in Singapore, with an average rate of 63% across all age ranges and 100% at >80 years of age.
- The high numbers of men suffering from hair loss in Singapore could be due to the multi-cultural society we live in and the unique genetic makeup we have here.
Why is there a difference in hair loss between Asian men and men of e.g. Caucasian descent?
- Genetics, specifically the genetic makeup of the ‘androgen receptor’ is highly related to the occurrence of male pattern hair loss. Traditionally, it is thought that a powerful male hormone (DHT or dihydrotestosterone) that is present in balding scalps, paired with an androgen receptor that has the balding genetic code results in balding.
- A study done in Korea compared the genetics of the androgen receptor of balding and non-balding men, and found that there was actually no significant difference in the 2 groups.
- Further studies have shown that genetics is not the only reason that men experience balding, but other important biological ingredients add to the mix to result in male hair loss e.g. environmental toxins, diet, other chemically mediated signals resulting in hair follicle inflammation.
So what is the difference between hair loss in Asian men and those of other ethnicities?
- Asian MEN experience more female pattern-type hair loss than Caucasian men do. (and vice versa!)
- Research from China show that 12% of women with patterned hair loss demonstrate a male pattern; similar research from Korea shows that female type patterned hair loss was demonstrated in 11.1% of men exhibiting balding.
- In Indian men, 18% of men demonstrated male pattern balding that did not fit existing criteria of either male or female patterned hair loss.
How will knowing this difference affect the way hair loss is treated?
- While some patients are analysed by a doctor unfamiliar with these differences, and is unable to explain your cause of your hair loss, commonly, misdiagnoses occur and the wrong treatment is prescribed.
- Understanding the in-depth genetic and biochemical rationale for male and female pattern hair loss also affects a patient’s response to hair loss medication.
- While it is neither routine to test for hormone levels and or run genetic tests of the androgen receptor, in-depth physician understanding of these differences will ensure that you receive proper care and more predictable results.
Dr Chong has a special interest in the field of hair loss genetics and biochemistry, medicine and corrective surgery for hair loss. He is a keen advocate in the use of regenerative medicine to treat hair loss patients who do not fit the typical descriptions of male or female pattern hair loss.