Hair is an important part of a person’s physical appearance. The present cultural emphasis on youthful appearance has further strengthened the value of abundant hair.
If you have recently looked in the mirror to discover you have thin, balding patches of hair or a receding hairline, you may be suffering from male pattern baldness or another condition that’s causing your hair loss. Hair loss is not entirely understood by researchers, though, so slowing balding and regenerating hair growth can sometimes be a guessing game. There are options, though, for young men who experience mild to severe hair loss. You should start by trying to understand the cause of your baldness to help you decide which treatment (or lifestyle changes) may work for you. A change in hormones, improper diet, stress, unhealthy hair habits, genetics, medical conditions, illness, and even cosmetic procedures such as bleaching or perming hair can answer the question, “Why is my hair thinning?”.
The available studies on baldness and perceived age have been conducted in younger and middle-aged men. As men age, the probability of visible AGA (androgenetic alopecia) increases. Accordingly, baldness is a more normative part of the physical appearance in elderly men and could hence be expected to affect perceived age to a lesser degree at older ages.
What is the prevalence of hair loss?
Hair loss is a universal problem. Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most common type of hair loss in men. Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) more commonly known as male pattern baldness affects up to 50% of men worldwide. The disorder is more common in younger people than ever before according to recent statistics and 30 is the age where a man decides to do something about it. The statistics which have just been revealed by The Belgravia Centre took into account more than 10,000 men.
The results show there is an exponential rise in the number of male hair loss sufferers between the ages of 21 and 30 and thereafter patient numbers gradually decline with age. It is distinct (i.e., cosmetically significant) in more than 45% Caucasian men by the age of 49, and in 70% by the age of 79.
When do men go bald?
Fifteen to sixteen years of age is quite early to start balding but usually tends to onset gradually, so it is not entirely impossible to start suffering from baldness in one’s teens, which begins with the thinning of the hair or receding hairline. For male pattern baldness, the noticeability of hair loss increases by age so that by age 20, about 20% of people have at least some visible hair loss, by age 30, 25% of people and by age 50, 50% of people have at least some noticeable hair loss. The majority of alopecia sufferers start noticing their hair loss in the mid to late twenties.
While most men experience some loss of hair thickness as they get older, male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) can start at any age. When and how much you lose depends primarily on genetics, although statistics show that the likelihood of hair loss only increases with age.
What is male pattern hair loss?
Male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia is a common condition in which men experience thinning of the hair on the scalp. In some cases, this results in a receding hairline or balding on the top of the head.
The prognosis of androgenetic alopecia is not known. Some patients progress to the point where they lose almost all hair on the scalp. Others have a patterned or nonpatterned thinning but retain a considerable number of hairs on the scalp.
Types of hair loss
The medical term for hair loss is alopecia and there are several different types of alopecia that affect men. Some of these types include:
- Androgenic Alopecia: This affects both men and women, but is more common in men. This is also referred to as “male pattern baldness” and can affect men as early as their late teenage years or early twenties. Typically, this type of alopecia will produce a gradually receding hairline, which eventually results in the loss or thinning of most of the hair on the scalp. This is the most common type of alopecia that causes early hair loss.
- Involutional Alopecia: This is the most common form of baldness and is usually not a reason for concern, as this refers to normal hair loss with age.
- Alopecia Universalis: This condition causes hair over the entire body to fall out, including eyebrows, eyelashes, hair on arms, legs, and the face, as well as the scalp.
The phases of your hair follicles rotate on different time intervals. Some follicles have shorter intervals than others, and research has never been able to identify the cause for the discrepancy in-phase time periods. Sometimes, hair follicles prematurely reach the telogen phase, resulting in hair loss. In other cases, follicles may reach this resting phase and never return to the anagen phase, meaning there is no new hair growth after the hair falls out.
Certain factors may affect hair loss. Some of these include:
- Hormonal changes and imbalances: Hair loss is often associated with extreme hormonal changes or hormone imbalances, including abnormal androgen levels and more.
- Family History: Look at your father, grandfather or brothers on your paternal and maternal side. Often, balding is considered genetic.
- Stress: It’s no secret that stress can cause hair loss and an increase in the stress hormone cortisol may make you more likely to suffer from conditions like telogen effluvium, which causes more hairs than normal to fall out, or trichotillomania, a psychological condition in which a person pulls out their hair, like as a nervous (or stress-induced) habit.
- Illness: Some illnesses can cause your hair follicles to function improperly, such as thyroid conditions, lupus, anaemia, or diabetes. Fungal infections are commonly known to cause hair loss, though it is often temporary. Autoimmune diseases often cause hair loss as well.
What can I do about my hair loss?
Hair loss is a sensitive topic and most experts and doctors are never really able to identify the cause. However, if you are looking to reduce your chance of hair loss or slow hair loss that is already progressing, you should consider the factors listed above. Your doctor may help you determine if a hormone imbalance or other medical condition may be the cause of your premature hair loss. If so, they may suggest hormone therapy, diet changes or other medications and treatments to help manage to condition or balance your hormones, which may naturally solve your hair loss problem.
Is it normal to lose hair on daily basis?
People have between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on their head. The number of strands normally lost in a day varies but on average is 100. In order to maintain a normal volume, hair must be replaced at the same rate at which it is lost. The first signs of hair thinning that people will often notice are more hairs than usual left in the hairbrush after brushing or in the basin after shampooing. Styling can also reveal areas of thinning, such as a wider parting or a thinning crown.
However, some people tend to lose more hair than that which results in telogen effluvium. Telogen phase of the hair follicle growth cycle is the natural phase of scalp hair shedding. If hair follicles remain in telogen phase for a longer period of time than usual, it is likely that the person will start shedding hair leaving the scalp exposed. Such a change can be brought about by triggers such as trauma, childbirth and even hormonal changes.
Signs of androgenetic alopecia include the following:
- Gradual onset;
- Increased hair shedding;
- Transition in the involved areas from large, thick, pigmented terminal hairs to thinner, shorter, indeterminate hairs and finally to short, wispy, non-pigmented vellus hairs;
- The result may be a total denudation area; this area varies from patient to patient and is usually most marked at the top.
Men can experience initial signs of male pattern baldness even before they reach their forties. It may not be so obvious at this stage but there will be some degree of hair loss which will appear as small patches of exposed scalp. It is possible to confuse this with alopecia areata (AA) which is another common form of alopecia.
Fortunately, hair can grow back again even without treatment as the stem cells that give rise to hair follicles are not destroyed. AA may be hereditary as statistics have shown that 1 in 5 patients with AA has at least one family member with the condition.
Which are the approved drugs for hair loss?
Two drugs have been approved two drugs to treat male pattern baldness: Finasteride (Propecia) and Minoxidil (Rogaine). For both of these drugs, it may take up to a year to see results, and you’ll need to keep taking them to maintain the benefits.
- Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a non-prescription medication approved for male pattern baldness and alopecia areata. In a liquid or foam, it is rubbed into the scalp twice a day. Not all users will regrow hair. The longer the hair has stopped growing, the less likely minoxidil will regrow hair. Minoxidil is not effective for other causes of hair loss. Hair regrowth can take 1 to 6 months to begin. Treatment must be continued indefinitely. If the treatment is stopped, hair loss resumes. Any regrown hair and any hair susceptible to being lost, while Minoxidil was used, will be lost. Most frequent side effects are mild scalp irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, and unwanted hair in other parts of the body.
- Finasteride (Propecia) is a specific inhibitor of steroid Type II 5a-reductase, an intracellular enzyme that converts the androgen testosterone into 5a-dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a powerful hormone that causes hair follicles to miniaturize and eventually stop growing hair. Propecia (Finasteride) tablets are film-coated tablets for oral administration. Each tablet contains 1 mg of Finasteride. You may need to take Finasteride by mouth daily for three months or more before you see a benefit from taking it. Finasteride can only work over the long term if you continue taking it. If the drug has not worked for you within twelve months, further treatment is unlikely to be beneficial. If you stop taking Finasteride, you will probably lose the hair you have gained within 12 months of stopping treatment. You should discuss this with your doctor. Take Finasteride at the same time each day. Finasteride can be administered with or without meals. It is not indicated for women and is not recommended in pregnant women.
What other solutions can I have for hair loss?
- Corticosteroids injections that can be used to treat alopecia areata. These injections need to be repeated monthly. Immunosuppressants applied to the scalp have been shown to temporarily reverse alopecia areata, though the side effects of some of these drugs make such therapy questionable.
- Hair transplants. The two most popular hair transplant procedures are follicular unit transplantation and follicular unit extraction. Success rates stand at 98%, however side effects have been known to include bald patches, scarring, and temporary hair thinning shortly after the operation, known as ‘shock loss’.
- Laser treatment. Laser treatment is thought to reduce the inflammation in follicles that keep them from growing back.
- Quit smoking. If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably heard about all the negative effects smoking has on your health. But did you know that smoking could cause hair loss on top of facial wrinkles and premature greying of hair? Research has determined that there’s a link between smoking and hair loss. If you want to keep from going bald, it may be a good idea to quit smoking as soon as possible.
- Scalp massage. Not only do massages feel wonderful, but they can help with your hair loss, too.
- Oils. There’s some evidence that peppermint oil can help with hair growth. Rosemary oil has also been traditionally used to increase blood circulation on the scalp. A 2013 study found that rosemary leaf extract improved hair regrowth in mice.
- A balanced diet. A well-balanced diet can keep your hair in tip-top shape. Make sure you are including a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins in your diet, and limit your intake of sweets.
- Certain vitamins and minerals found in food are associated with healthy hair. Try adding in these types of foods:
- iron-rich foods, including lean beef, beans, green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified grains, and eggs;
- foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, flax seeds, egg yolks, hemp seeds, and walnuts;
- high-protein foods, like eggs, lean meats, and seafood.
- Saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is a plant with small berries that are often used as part of a treatment plan for an enlarged prostate. While research is narrow on saw palmetto’s ability to treat hair loss, one study showed positive results for men treated with a topical formulation.
- Biotin. Biotin is a vitamin found naturally in foods like:
- sweet potatoes;
- Be gentle with your locks. Try to be as gentle as possible when brushing or styling your hair. Constantly twisting, twirling, or pulling your hair tight can lead to hair loss. If you’re worried about hair loss, you may want to avoid the following:
- tight hairstyles, such as pigtails, cornrows, braids, and buns;
- hot oil treatments;
- chemicals used in perms and hair straightening treatments;
- hot curling iron or straightening irons;
- bleaching your hair.
While hair loss at a young age can be alarming, it’s important to remember that the earlier thinning hair is noticed, and any potential issue is diagnosed, the easier it may be to treat.
The solution may be as simple as a minor adjustment in diet or it may be part of a bigger health problem. Regardless, identifying the issue early is crucial when battling hair loss.
Whether or not there is a hair loss cure for your situation, you can discover how to take better care of yourself and your hair by knowing what to look for early on, gathering the facts, and taking any preventative measures to help minimize future damage
There are ways to help slow down hair loss without resorting to drastic treatment. Being careful to wash your hair with lukewarm water rather than hot and being gentle when drying is key to maintaining the lifespan of the hair you’ve got.
Getting plenty of sleep, at least seven hours per night, is also crucial, as growth hormone levels are at their highest while we sleep.
Your worth as a man is not tied up in how much hair there is on your head. If you don’t make your hair lose a big deal, nobody else will either.
- Michael S., Judith A. Effects of Cranial and Facial Hair on Perceptions of Age and Person. The Journal of Social Psychology, 1991; DOI: 10.1080/00224545.1991.9713892;
- Norwood OT. Male pattern baldness: classification and incidence. South Med J. 1975 Nov; 68(11):1359-65; PMID: 1188424;
- Mysore V, Shashikumar BM. Guidelines on the use of finasteride in androgenetic alopecia. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2016 Mar-Apr;82(2):128-34.; PubMed PMID: 26924401; doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.177432;
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