Hair Loss

The Bald Truth: Causes and Solutions for Men’s Hair Loss Issues

Introduction

Hair loss is a common issue that affects many men. Approximately 50% of men over the age of 50 and up to 85% of men over 70 suffer from male pattern baldness to some degree. While it is often genetically driven, other factors like stress, medications, and illnesses can also contribute to hair loss in men.

The most common cause of hair loss in men is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness. This condition is hereditary and causes the hair follicles to shrink over time, producing thinner and shorter hairs with each growth cycle until the follicles stop producing hair altogether. Stress, certain medications, infections, autoimmune disorders, and other medical conditions can also lead to temporary or permanent hair loss in men.

Losing one’s hair can be distressing for men and affect their self-image and confidence. But there are ways to treat hair loss and even regrow new hair. Understanding the causes and exploring medical and natural options can help men cope with this common condition.

Types of Hair Loss

  • Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in men. It’s caused by a combination of genetics and hormones. Male pattern baldness is characterized by a receding hairline and thinning hair on the crown of the head.
  • Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out in small, round patches. It can occur at any age but is more common in people under 30. The immune system is thought to cause alopecia areata by attacking the hair follicles.
  • Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss caused by stress, illness, surgery, or rapid weight change. It causes hair to prematurely enter the resting phase, resulting in increased shedding. Telogen effluvium usually resolves on its own within 6 months as the hair follicles return to the growth phase.

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss in men can be caused by a variety of factors, both inherited and acquired over time. The main causes are:

Genetics/family history

Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, accounts for most cases of hair loss. It results from a combo of hormones and genetics. If your father or grandfather experienced hair loss, you have a higher risk of it as well.

Hormonal changes

As men age, they produce higher levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that shrinks hair follicles. This hormone can contribute to male pattern baldness.

Medical conditions

Health issues like thyroid disease, lupus, or iron deficiency can lead to excessive shedding and hair loss. Skin conditions like ringworm can also cause temporary bald patches.

Medications

Certain drugs used to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, and high blood pressure can trigger hair loss as a side effect. Blood thinners in particular are known to interfere with hair growth.

Stress

High stress levels can have many effects on the body, including interfering with the normal hair growth cycle. During stressful events, up to 70% of hair can shift into a shedding phase. Major surgeries, illnesses, and emotional trauma can be triggers.

Effects of Hair Loss

Hair loss can have a significant psychological and emotional impact. For many men, hair is closely tied to their identity, youth, and vitality. Losing hair can negatively affect self-esteem and body image.

Some of the common psychological effects of hair loss in men include:

  • Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence – As hair disappears, men may begin to lose confidence in their appearance and attractiveness. This can make them feel insecure and affect their self-worth.
  • Depression and anxiety – Hair loss can lead to feelings of depression, social isolation and anxiety in men. There is often a grieving process associated with losing an aspect of identity and youthful appearance.
  • Negative body image – Societal norms emphasize hair as part of an attractive masculine appearance. Men with hair loss may develop a distorted self-image, becoming hyper-focused on flaws. This can impact their social lives and willingness to interact with others.
  • Low libido and sexual difficulties – Hair loss can reduce self-confidence and alter perceptions of masculinity. This can contribute to problems with sexual and romantic relationships for some men.
  • Social withdrawal – To avoid showing visible hair loss, some men begin avoiding social situations and public appearances. They may become reclusive and isolated.
  • Loss of vitality – Hair loss is associated with aging, which can make men feel less energetic and youthful. This can take a toll on their outlook and lifestyle.

The emotional toll of losing hair can be significant for men. Support and understanding from loved ones can help mitigate the effects on confidence and self-image. Some men may benefit from counseling to develop coping strategies to better handle the stress and grief.

Diagnosing Hair Loss

If you notice your hair is falling out or thinning, it’s important to see a doctor to determine the cause. Diagnosing hair loss often starts with a physical exam and questions about your medical history. Your doctor may ask about any other symptoms you’ve noticed and look for signs of an underlying condition that could be contributing to hair loss.

Some common diagnostic tests for hair loss include:

Physical exam

Your doctor will examine your hair and scalp for signs of infection, scarring, or inflammation. They may use a special magnifying lens to get a closer look at your scalp.

Pull test

Your doctor will gently pull small clusters of hair to see how many hairs come out. More than 6 hairs removed indicates active shedding.

Biopsy

A small sample of your scalp skin or hair follicles may be taken and examined under a microscope. This can help identify issues like fungal infections, autoimmune disorders, or hormonal imbalances contributing to hair loss.

Blood tests

Blood work can check for nutrient deficiencies, thyroid problems, and other medical conditions that can cause hair loss. For example, low iron levels are linked to hair shedding.

Getting an accurate diagnosis is important before starting any hair loss treatment. It helps identify the cause and rule out serious underlying medical conditions. Your doctor can make the appropriate recommendations based on the diagnostics performed. Catching and addressing hair loss early often leads to better outcomes.

Preventing Hair Loss

Hair loss prevention starts with leading a healthy lifestyle. While genetics play a role, there are still measures you can take to keep your hair healthy and reduce hair loss.

Maintain a balanced diet

Eat a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats. Make sure to get enough iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, and protein. A poor diet lacking in nutrients can lead to increased hair shedding.

Reduce stress

High stress levels raise cortisol and can trigger telogen effluvium, a temporary hair shedding condition. Find healthy ways to manage stress through exercise, meditation, getting enough sleep, and making time for enjoyable activities.

Avoid tight hairstyle

Hairstyles that pull on the hair roots, like tight ponytails or cornrows, can cause traction alopecia over time. Allow hair to move freely and avoid constant tension on the hair roots.

Limit heat and chemical damage

Heat styling tools and chemical treatments like perms and hair dye can damage the hair shaft and cause breakage. Allow hair to air dry when possible, use heat protectant sprays, and minimize chemical treatments to keep hair healthy.

Making smart hair care choices and leading a healthy lifestyle are effective ways to prevent excessive hair shedding and damage. While you can’t change your genetics, you can influence how your hair follicles are cared for.

Medical Treatments

There are a few medical treatment options that have been shown to be effective for treating hair loss in men.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a topical medication that was originally developed to treat high blood pressure. It was discovered that a side effect of the medication was increased hair growth. Minoxidil is available over-the-counter in 2% and 5% solutions that are applied directly to the scalp twice daily. It works by stimulating hair follicles and increasing blood flow to the area.

Minoxidil helps stimulate hair growth and can slow or stop hair loss in some men. It works best for regrowing hair at the crown of the head and is less effective at the frontal hairline. Results are seen after about 4 months of consistent use. However, minoxidil does not address the hormonal causes of hair loss, so continued use is required to maintain results.

Finasteride

Finasteride is an oral prescription medication that blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT, the hormone linked to male pattern baldness. DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink and lose their ability to grow thick hair. Finasteride 1mg tablets are taken once per day.

Finasteride is effective at slowing hair loss and regrowing hair in many men. Like minoxidil, it works best at the crown and is less effective at the hairline. It can take 3-6 months to see results, and must be taken continuously to maintain benefits.

Low-Level Laser Therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) uses light energy to stimulate hair follicles and encourage regrowth. Laser devices are fitted with combs or panels that are placed directly against the scalp. The lasers help energize cells in the follicles and promote thicker, fuller hair growth.

Laser therapy is sometimes used in conjunction with other treatments like minoxidil. It can enhance their effectiveness. LLLT is generally safe and non-invasive, but optimal treatment schedules and long-term efficacy still need further study.

Natural Remedies

There are several natural remedies that may help prevent hair loss or encourage hair regrowth. While there is limited evidence for their effectiveness, people generally consider them safe and inexpensive options to try.

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is an herbal supplement derived from the fruit of the Serenoa repens tree. Fatty acids and plant sterols in it may block the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which is believed to be a factor in male pattern baldness. Saw palmetto supplements have been found in some studies to slow hair loss and promote hair regrowth when taken daily over several months. The recommended dosage is 320 mg per day.

Green Tea

Green tea and its active components like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) may help inhibit the production of DHT. Drinking green tea or taking a green tea supplement may therefore aid in preventing and treating hair loss. Green tea extracts applied topically in lotions have also shown promise for hair growth in research studies.

Onion Juice

Onion juice contains sulfur and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on hair follicles and encourage growth. Applying onion juice directly to the scalp and massaging it in has been found to help with patchy alopecia areata hair loss. Letting onion juice sit on the scalp for 15-20 minutes before rinsing may maximize results.

Scalp Massage

Massaging the scalp can increase blood circulation to the hair follicles, condition the scalp, and possibly stimulate hair growth. Using essential oils like rosemary, lavender, or peppermint oil in massage blends may further aid in relaxation and hair health. Taking 5-10 minutes per day to massage the scalp gently with the fingertips may help reduce hair loss.

Hair Transplants

Hair transplants are a surgical procedure that can permanently restore hair growth in balding areas. During a hair transplant, hair follicles are removed from areas of the scalp with healthy hair growth and implanted into balding or thinning areas. There are two main techniques used:

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
  • With FUE, the surgeon extracts individual hair follicle units from the donor area one at a time using a specialized punch tool.
  • The hairs are then implanted into the recipient sites which are made using a fine needle or blade.
  • FUE leaves tiny dot scars in the donor area which are not noticeable when the surrounding hair grows back.
  • It allows for the flexibility to harvest follicles from different areas to get the desired number of grafts.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
  • Also known as the strip method, FUT involves removing a strip of skin from the back of the scalp which contains hundreds of hair follicles.
  • The strip is then dissected to obtain the individual follicles which can number from 500 to over 4,000 grafts.
  • Surgeons carefully implant the follicles in the recipient area based on the direction and angle of existing hairs using small incisions.
  • FUT results in a thin linear scar in the donor area which is covered by surrounding hair.

Hair transplants can restore the natural appearance of hair if performed by an experienced surgeon. However, results depend on various factors like hair color, texture, curliness, and the number of grafts transplanted. Hair transplants are a permanent solution for many people suffering from significant hair loss or baldness.

Coping with Hair Loss

Hair loss can take an emotional toll and impact self-esteem and confidence. However, there are healthy ways to cope and come to terms with changing hair.

  • Acceptance is key. Recognizing hair loss as a natural part of life for many people can help reduce anxiety. Focus on self-care and self-acceptance of who you are as a whole person. Remember that attraction is not just about looks.
  • Confidence building techniques involve shifting focus to positive attributes you have control over. Emphasize talents, skills, personality traits, accomplishments, intelligence, humor, and other qualities to build self-worth beyond just your appearance.
  • Support groups, whether in-person or online, connect people facing similar challenges. Sharing stories and advice can help build self-esteem and cope through camaraderie. Consider joining forums, attending events, or seeking counseling.
  • Hairpieces/toupees are an option for temporarily covering thin spots or receding hairlines. High-quality, well-fitted pieces can boost confidence and self-image without being obvious. Take time to find a comfortable, natural-looking hair replacement that fits your lifestyle and needs.

The emotional impact of hair loss is real. However, there are many healthy ways to adapt, embrace change, and regain self-assurance. Focus on self-care, self-love, and a holistic view of attractiveness.

Related posts
Hair Loss

What Are The Most Effective Treatments For Hair Loss?

Introduction Hair loss is a very common condition that can affect both men and women. According to…
Read more
Hair Loss

Hair Loss Remedies and Causes – What You Need to Know

Introduction Hair loss is an extremely common condition that can affect both men and women.
Read more
Hair Loss

Embracing the Crown: Natural Ways to Combat Male Pattern Balding

Introduction Male pattern balding, a hereditary condition that affects a large percentage of men…
Read more
Newsletter
Yummy Recipes
New fresh and healthy recipes in your inbox [mc4wp_form id="729"]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *