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In some individuals, however, hair is lost very rapidly, the growth of replacement hairs is extremely slow, or regular hairs are replaced by shorter, thinner ones. Such changes can eventually cause baldness, or alopecia (al-oh-PEE-shuh). Ninety-five percent of hair loss is due to androgenetic (AN-droe-jih-NET-ik) alopecia, a condition that usually affects men, hence its common name, ""male-pattern baldness."" This common type of hair loss is triggered by an excess of a substance called DHT (D-H-T), a derivative of the hormone androgen (AN-droh-jihn).

DHT harms the hair follicles and prevents new growth, resulting in a horseshoe-shaped area of hair loss on the forehead and center of the scalp. In women, androgenetic alopecia tends to occur as an overall thinning and rarely causes near or complete baldness. Other types of baldness may be caused by immune system reactions, chronic pulling on the hair, illness, and certain medications. For this reason, it's important to determine the underlying cause of hair loss so the appropriate treatment can be pursued. Options for androgenetic alopecia include topical and oral medications or hair transplant surgery.