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Hair woes

Today, Tuesday, July 12, 2011, Page T10, Health
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Quek Sue Lyn Sarah, 04:45 AM Jul 12, 2011

PHOTO: Men, too, desire a thick, lustrous mane - and they are prepared to spend to get it
GETTY IMAGES, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd
Today, Tuesday, July 12, 2011, Page T10, Health

Men, too, desire a thick, lustrous mane - and they are prepared to spend to get it
If your eyes were glued to the broadcast of Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding in April, you probably would have noticed the former's glaring bald spot. Yes, even royalty isn't spared from the dreadful condition known as Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL).

MPHL is a gradual loss of hair caused mainly by a genetic tendency and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone normally found in the body. People with a genetic disposition to MPHL have a higher level of DHT. The substance shrinks hair follicles until they no longer produce visible hair.

The condition can kick in among men who are only in their 20s, while studies estimate that half of all men experience varying degrees of MPHL by the time they are 50.

Despite its common occurrence, a recent regional survey on MPHL sufferers found that Singapore men will stop at nothing to tackle their balding woes.

Funded by Merck Sharp and Dohme, the survey was conducted on 1,000 men between the ages of 20 and 40, living in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Singapore. The local portion of the survey was conducted in consultation with Dr Cheong Wai Kwong, a senior consultant dermatologist from the Specialist Skin Clinic.

Conducted online last November, it aimed to find out the men's attitudes, the measures they took, their expectations, how much they spent on their balding problems and their motivation for seeking medical treatment.

Singapore men most concerned about hair loss
Compared to men living in the other regions, Singapore men spent the most treating hair loss. Local men blew an average of S$310.90 each month, compared to their counterparts in the region who spent S$43.60 to S$297.70 a month on over-the-counter hair loss remedies and/or hair care services.

The survey also highlighted that men here ranked third on the time spent on daily hair care, and almost half of them disclosed that their self-esteem was hurt when their balding condition was pointed out.

Seven in 10 local men also think thin hair is "not cool" and makes them unattractive to the opposite sex.

Harry Teo, a 28-year-old tutor, who suffered from hair loss at 25, is one such example. "My hairstylist pointed out to me that the hairline along my fringe and temples were receding. Even though I tried ways to hide the thinning area by combing and styling my hair, it still looked obvious. I was embarrassed and insecure."

According to Dr Cheong, the most effective way to tackle MPHL is to seek proper medical advice from general practitioners or dermatologists who are trained to treat the condition. Without any medical treatment, hair is progressively lost and not replaced, resulting in a worsening condition over time.

However, Dr Cheong added that patients must understand that medical treatment for hair loss issues often requires patience and a "long-term commitment".

"Men may start to see slowing of hair loss by the third month of treatment, and evidence of some regrowth of hair only by the sixth month onwards. Medication needs to be taken for at least three months to see how well it is working for each individual," he said.

There are also possible side effects from taking hair loss drugs, including erectile dysfunction, impotence and low libido.

After seeking medical attention for his balding problem, Harry said "it is no longer obvious that (he is) balding".

"Now, I look more like my age than before, maybe even younger," he said.
By Quek Sue Lyn Sarah, 04:45 AM Jul 12, 2011

PHOTO: Affinity Hair Design