If your hairline is receding or your crown is thinning, you may wonder why this is happening and what exactly is causing your thinning hair. You may also be wondering what, if anything, you can do to reverse this trend.
Read on to learn more about the reasons why men lose their hair and the treatments that may help slow down the balding process.
The vast majority of men who go bald do so because of a hereditary condition known as androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, 95 percent of hair loss in men is caused by androgenetic alopecia.
This inherited trait that tends to give guys a receding hairline and a thinning crown is caused by genetic sensitivity to a byproduct of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
So, how exactly does this hormonal byproduct cause hair loss?
Well, hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT have a tendency to shrink over time. As the affected hair follicles get smaller, the life span of each hair becomes shorter. Eventually, the affected follicles stop producing hair, or at least the type of hair you’re used to.
With male pattern baldness, hair loss typically follows a predictable pattern. The two most common patterns of hair loss include the following:
- Hair starts to thin on top of the head and around the temples. This pattern may eventually leave a “horseshoe” of hair around the sides and back of the head.
- Hair starts to recede from the front of the hairline, pushing the hairline further back on the head.
The degree and progression of balding in men is assessed by the Norwood classification system. It has seven stages that measure the severity and pattern of hair loss and balding.
If you find that your hair is thinner than it used to be, you can draw some comfort from the fact that you’re not alone. Male pattern baldness affects the majority of men at some stage in their lives.
According to the American Hair Loss Association:
- Approximately 25 percent of men who have hereditary male pattern baldness start losing their hair before the age of 21.
- By the age of 35, approximately 66 percent of men will have experienced some degree of hair loss.
- By the age of 50, approximately 85 percent of men will have significantly thinner hair.
Although male pattern baldness is the leading cause of balding, it isn’t the only condition that can trigger hair loss.
With male pattern baldness, you typically don’t have other symptoms aside from thinning hair. But with other hair loss causes, you may notice you have other symptoms, too.
Also, with most other causes, there isn’t always a predictable hair loss pattern like there is with male pattern baldness. Instead, hair loss is more likely to happen all over, or in a few spots.
The following conditions can cause varying degrees of hair loss. Some types of hair loss may be permanent, while others may be reversible:
- Alopecia areata. This condition causes your body’s immune system to mistakenly attack healthy hair follicles, which leads to hair loss. Hair typically falls out in small patches on your head, but it can also affect other parts of your body. For instance, you may find a bald spot in your beard or in your eyelashes or eyebrows, too. The hair may or may not grow back.
- Telogen effluvium. Excessive shedding of hair can sometimes happen about 2 to 3 months after some sort of shock to the system or stressful event. Hair loss may be triggered by an accident, surgery, illness, drastic weight loss, or some kind of psychological stress. Hair usually grows back within about 2 to 6 months.
- Nutritional deficiency. Optimal levels of iron and other nutrients are essential for good overall health, as well as healthy hair growth. Protein, vitamin D, as well as adequate intake of other vitamins from your diet are also important to maintain healthy hair. A deficiency in one or more of these nutrients may cause you to lose more hair than normal.
Hair loss from certain medications is usually temporary and once you stop taking the medication, hair growth will likely resume. Some of the known drugs associated with hair loss include:
- chemotherapy drugs
- acne medications such as isotretinoin (Accutane)
- antifungal drugs, in particular voriconazole
- anticoagulants such as heparin and warfarin
- blood pressure medications such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors
- cholesterol-lowering drugs such as simvastatin (Zocor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac)
Hair loss treatments, for male pattern baldness in particular, range from products you rub into your scalp to more invasive treatments aimed at restoring hair growth or replacing lost hair.
Here are some of the more popular and effective treatment options for balding.
There are both prescription and over-the-counter drugs approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness.
The two medications proven to treat or stave off further male pattern hair loss are finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) and minoxidil (Rogaine, Ioniten). Finasteride comes in a pill form and is only available by prescription. Minoxidil is a topical treatment that’s available over the counter.
It can take at least 6 months for either treatment to start showing results.
Low-level laser therapy can be used to help invigorate circulation in the scalp and to stimulate hair follicles. Although this is a fairly new treatment option, it has been deemed safe and…