Hair Loss is Common
Hair loss is a common condition that affects many people, both men and women. While hair loss affects roughly 50% of women at some point in their lives, men experience hair loss at a higher rate. By the time they are 35 years old, more than 40% of men have noticeable hair loss and that number increases to 65% by the age of 60. Though hair loss tends to affect older men more often, young hair loss is possible as well – especially in men.
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Whether you have experienced hair loss yourself or you’re simply wondering how to avoid it, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll receive an in-depth look at male pattern hair loss in its many forms as well as the causes and options for treatment. So keep reading!
Men’s Hair Loss Information
In order to really understand what hair loss is and how it happens, you need to have a basic understanding of the hair growth cycle. As your hair grows and sheds, it goes through a series of four stages – these are the four stages:
The growth phase for hair, anagen lasts between 2 and 7 years and it is the phase that determines the length of your hair.
The regression phase, catagen lasts for an average of 10 days and it is the phase in which the hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the skin.
The resting phase, telogen lasts for about three months and about 10% to 15% of your hair is in this phase at any giving time, resting before new growth begins.
The shedding phase, exogen occurs at the end of the resting phase when the follicle detaches from the skin and the hair is shed.
On any given day, it is normal to shed anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs. If you notice that your hair is starting to thin or if you’re developing a receding hair line, however, it might not be normal. Keep reading to learn about the different types of male hair loss.
Common Forms of Male Hair Loss
The most common form of hair loss in men is called androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. This is the most common form of genetic hair loss as well. In men, this type of hair loss is characterized by an M-shaped pattern on the scalp in which the hairline has begun to recede. Though there are other potential causes for hair loss, androgenetic alopecia is often related to an inherited sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Hair follicles that are particularly sensitive to DHT start to miniaturize which shortens the life cycle of the hair follicle. The life cycle will become shorter, often resulting in heavy hair loss, and the follicle may even stop producing new hairs all together.
The second most common form of hair loss in men is called alopecia areata and it is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly identifies the hair follicles as foreign invaders and begins to attack them. As the follicles sustain more and more damage, they stop growing and the result is circular patches of hair loss across the scalp. Alopecia totalis is a form of alopecia areata in which all of the hair on the scalp is lost. Going one step further, alopecia universalis is another form of the disease in which the person loses all the hair on their scalp as well as the rest of the body.
Aside from alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia, the other forms of hair loss that might affect men include traction alopecia, anagen effluvium, telogen effluvium, and various hair diseases that cause hair loss. Traction alopecia results from damage to the hair follicles that can be caused by tension or pulling. If you often wear tight hats or if your hair is long enough to be pulled back into a ponytail or bun, you may develop this form of hair loss. Anagen effluvium is often caused by exposure to chemical toxins and it causes hairs in the anagen phase to suddenly be shed. Telogen effluvium occurs when hairs are prematurely rushed from the anagen into the telogen phase – triggers may include physical trauma, major illness, surgery, or stress.
Men’s Hair Loss and What Causes It
As you have already learned, it is normal to shed up to 100 hairs from your head each and every day. If you begin to shed more than that, however, you might want to talk to your doctor. Each of the different types of hair loss have their own causes but the following are the most common:
- Family history
- Changing hormones
- Medical conditions
Heredity, or family history, is one of the most common causes for hair loss in men – especially for androgenetic alopecia. Not only do your genetics determine your risk for developing hair loss, but they also determine the age at which it develops, the rate of progression, and the severity. In some men, male pattern baldness begins at the age of puberty.
In terms of hormonal changes and medical problems that can trigger hair loss, there are a number of things to consider. Hormonal changes occur during puberty in early adolescence but, later in life, may be triggered by thyroid problems or other diseases. Alopecia areata, or patchy hair loss, is commonly caused by autoimmune activity which has no known cause, as of yet. Infections that affect the scalp like ringworm can trigger hair loss and other skin disorders like psoriasis, lupus, and sarcoidosis can contribute as well. For some men, hair loss is secondary to a mental health problem known as trichotillomania in which the person has an uncontrollable urge to pull out their own hair.
Medications and certain medical treatments can contribute to hair loss as well. For example, drugs for arthritis, heart problems, high blood pressure, and depression can have hair loss as a side effect. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can trigger hair loss as well, particularly anagen effluvium. Hormone replacement therapy and even excessive intake of vitamin A can trigger hair loss, as can extreme stress and physical injury.
Men’s Hair Loss Options for Treatment
If you want to reverse hair loss or simply stop it from getting worse, there are a number of options you can try. The most widely accepted treatment that seems to provide the most benefit for men is a combination of finasteride and minoxidil. Finasteride (known by the brand name Propecia) is an oral medication that was originally developed to treat enlarged prostate. The drug works by inhibiting Type II 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that turns testosterone into DHT. In doing so, this drug helps to stimulate hair regrowth, particularly in cases of androgenetic alopecia.
Minoxidil is a topical application and the first drug approved by the FDA for treating male pattern baldness. Originally, minoxidil was a pill developed to treat high blood pressure and hair growth was an unexpected side effect. Because the growth occurred in unexpected and undesired places, the treatment was developed into a topical application, so it could be used only on the scalp. Combining minoxidil with finasteride boosts the results of both treatments and stimulates hair growth for as long as you continue to use the treatments.
In cases where hair loss drugs are ineffective, some people turn to a more radical treatment option – surgical hair restoration. Hair transplants are the most common form of surgical treatment and they involve taking small plugs of skin from the scalp or back (plugs that contain a few hairs each) and transplanting them into the balding sections of the scalp. This treatment can be effective, but it is also very painful and expensive. It also comes with a number of risk including scarring and infection. Nonsurgical alternatives include wearing wigs or hairpieces to cover or disguise hair loss.
If you haven’t yet developed hair loss, you may be able to take some simple steps to prevent it from happening at all. Following a healthy, balanced diet is the best thing you can do for your health and for hair loss control, though treating your scalp and hair gently is important as well. If you start to develop symptoms of hair loss, talk to your doctor right away to get started on the right treatment.