Hair loss is a serious condition that affects millions of men worldwide. From male pattern baldness to the varying types of alopecia, understanding the causes and their treatments can seem complicated. Keep reading for an in-depth explanation of the most common causes of male hair loss and what you can do to treat them.
What Causes Hair Loss?
There are a variety of factors that come into play to cause hair loss, varying from person to person. However, there are some especially common causes that are known to impact hair health. These can range anywhere from genetics to stress to hormonal imbalances.
Too Much DHT
The male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can have drastic effects on hair when overproduced by the body. Too much of this hormone will gather around follicles, causing them to weaken and shrink. As a consequence, the hair will also become weak and eventually fall out. Hair production will decrease and could even stop completely in some areas. This usually occurs around the hairline and top of the head.
Having the MBP Gene
Did you know that two out of three men experience some level of MPB before reaching 35 years of age? Known scientifically as androgenetic alopecia, this type of hair loss is identified by a receding hairline or balding of the crown. And having too much DHT is not the only cause. Also having a specific genetic trait is often to blame. Scientists believe this condition is caused by the X chromosome’s AR gene, which affects hormonal function.
The immune system is deeply connected to hair health, believe it or not. Weak immunity can result in hair loss, although sometimes immune disorders can develop no matter what you do. Alopecia areata and alopecia totalis are both hair loss conditions that occur when the immune system attacks healthy cells. Alopecia areata is signified by losing clumps of hair at a time, whereas alopecia totalis is the eventual loss of all hair. Some researchers believe there may be a link with these conditions and genetics, but more studies need to be conducted to know for sure.
Chronic stress can have devastating results on the body, including the hair. One stress-caused condition is telogen effluvium, in which follicles essentially shut down for varying periods of time. Think of it as going into hibernation, per se, as the condition is known to be temporary. Another stress-induced condition is trichotillomania, in which a person feels a strong urge to pull out their hair. Over time, repeated pulling in the same area can damage follicles enough to prevent hair from growing back.
The way you treat your hair also has a big impact on hair loss. Using products that leave hair feeling dry can weaken your hair over time, causing it to fall out. Frequently putting your hair in tight styles, like braids or updos, can pull on the scalp. Known as traction alopecia, this constant pulling can weaken follicles along the hairline, resulting in hair loss. Additionally, regularly using heated tools like blow dryers can dry out your scalp and lead to brittle hair that’s prone to breakage.
How Can You Treat It?
So now you know the most common causes of hair loss for men. But what can you do to prevent or treat these conditions? There are multiple approaches you can take, depending on your hair’s situation.
Many healthcare providers prescribe medications to treat MPB, with the two most common being finasteride and minoxidil. Finasteride works for those with MPB caused by DHT overproduction, as it stops the body from making too much of the hormone. This medicine comes in a pill form, although sometimes you can find it in a topical gel. Minoxidil is regularly used by those with telogen effluvium or types of alopecia, as it works as a follicle stimulant. Administered as a topical gel, foam, or shampoo, minoxidil essentially spurs the follicles into growing more hair.
Improve Your Diet
Maintaining a balanced diet can improve your health overall, and therefore your hair’s health, too. Certain vitamins and minerals are directly tied to the upkeep of hair production, including biotin, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, B, and D. You can get all of these except vitamin A in fish, meat, beans, or nuts. Vitamin A is found in fruits and vegetables including spinach, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots. You can also take a once-daily multivitamin to add more of these nutrients to your diet in supplement form. However, it’s often wise to consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
Since stress can be a factor in hair loss, it’s important for your mental and hair health to treat it. Try to identify big stressors in your life, from too many commitments to an unsatisfying job. Your health and happiness should be top priorities, so learn to say no and put yourself first. Additionally, make more time for relaxation and participation in your favorite activities and hobbies. If you think you could use some extra help, therapy can be a great option to talk about your concerns.
For more severe cases of hair loss, hair transplant surgery is an option worth thinking about. This treatment works by taking healthy follicles and transplanting them into areas where growth has stopped. Surgery is often marketed as a permanent solution, rather than a temporary fix like medication. Although this option can be painful and expensive, it’s worth it for many who have struggled with hair loss. Talking to a professional to find out if you’re a good candidate for this procedure. It doesn’t hurt to check out your options.
Everyone is Different
When it comes to health issues, remember that everyone’s body is unique and will react differently to treatment. Even with combating hair loss, what works for one person might do nothing for another. It might take some experimenting before you find an effective solution. Remember that talking to a healthcare provider and being open to trying new treatments can go a long way.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.