What Causes Hair Loss in Men?
Hair loss in men can be of great concern for some. Losing a few strands is normal, but finding an abundance in the shower drain or a hair brush can be devastating. As men age, it’s common to slowly lose some hair, some more than others. But what causes hair loss in young men?
If you’re way below the age where hair loss should be an issue but have concerns, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover how to know when you’re losing too much, the different types of hair loss, and what you can do about it.
Signs of Hair Loss in Men
Balding or thinning hair can creep up on men at any time in their lives. This may not be of much concern to middle-aged or older men, but it can cause much stress for those in their early adult years.
Some signs of hair loss can include:
A receding hairline is when the hair on the front of the head just above the forehead begins to move back toward the center of the head. It usually creates an “M” shaped pattern.
Hair growth slows around the side of the face near the ears and temples. This can also occur around the base of the neck.
Thinning on Top
For some men, their first discovery of hair loss is the gradual thinning of hair at the top of the head, usually at the crown or slightly farther back.
Men who wear a hairstyle that’s parted in the middle will notice the part gradually becoming wider.
Losing Clumps of Hair
The process of losing hair is normally slow and plays out over time. However, hair falling out in clumps usually indicates a medical issue and may or may not be correctable. This type of hair loss can also affect other parts of the body and isn’t limited to the hair on the head.
Types of Hair Loss in Men
Hair loss in men can take on many different forms. To properly address hair loss problems, it can be beneficial for men to understand what type of hair loss they have.
Male Pattern Baldness
Androgenetic alopecia, mostly known as male pattern baldness, has plagued men for eons. This condition has been linked to genetics. Men with a family history of this condition have a greater chance of experiencing hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is the most common hair loss type in men. Although the natural part of losing hair usually occurs after age 50, some men can begin to experience this condition much earlier in their lives. Symptoms include receding hairline, hair thinning, and baldness.
Stress-induced Hair Loss
Elogen effluvium, or stress-induced hair loss, occurs when the mind or the body experiences periods of prolonged stress. This type of hair loss could result from improper (crash) dieting, illnesses accompanied by a high fever, changes in medication, or illicit drug use. Extreme emotional stress, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one, can often result in stress-induced hair loss.
Symptoms of telogen effluvium include general hair thinning with an increase in shedding. Most men with this condition will regrow their hair once the cause of the stress is removed.
Chronic Tension Hair Loss
Traction alopecia results from long-term tension on the hair follicle from sporting a tight hairstyle. Causes can include wearing tight braids, hair extensions, ponytails, or dreadlocks. Over time, these types of hairstyles that pull tightly on the hair follicles can cause damage. Once the follicles are damaged, bald spots can occur. Damaged hair follicles will not produce new hair.
Autoimmune Hair Loss
Alopecia areata is a medical condition that makes the body attack its own hair follicles. Typical symptoms include the sudden appearance of coin-shaped bald spots on the scalp but can also appear on eyebrows and beards. Symptoms can range from a few small patches of baldness to more severe hair loss.
This hair loss type can occur at a young age, although it may not present itself until men are in their late teens or early adult years. For some with this condition, the hair may grow back on its own. Alopecia areata has an unpredictable pattern of hair loss and regrowth.
Medical Illness-related Hair Loss
Another type of male hair loss is due to a medical issue. Some common causes could be thyroid, hormone, or anemia related. Your primary care physician can order blood tests to diagnose the cause. Hair loss resulting from a medical-related issue, once properly diagnosed and corrected, will usually grow back over time.
What Are the Top 10 Reasons for Hair Loss?
There are various factors leading to men’s hair loss, ranging from medical issues, genetics, and a host of other causes. Here we’ll highlight some of the most likely culprits.
Certain types of medications can cause hair thinning or loss. This side effect is known as drug-induced hair loss.
Some medications taken for depression can cause hair loss. Others include anti-inflammatories, beta-blockers, blood thinners, and chemotherapy medications. Pills for high blood pressure, heart issues, and gout have also been known to cause hair loss. An abundance of vitamin A, and certain retinoids, a medication that’s vitamin-A based, can also affect hair growth and loss.
Genetics is the most common cause of baldness in men. Male baldness is usually a slow progression of thinning hair accompanied by a receding hairline.
Although there is much debate on which side of the family is responsible for the gene linked to hair loss, some research suggests that it’s passed on from father to son. Men with a father who went bald early in life are likelier to follow the same pattern. However, this doesn’t always hold true.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) have both been linked to men having issues with prematurely thinning hair. One of the many functions thyroid hormones provide is regulating hair growth, so any thyroid issues could cause an overall slow loss of hair. Hair loss due to thyroid problems typically presents itself as a gradual thinning of the hair overall and isn’t associated with bald spots.
In addition to thyroid-related hormonal hair loss issues, other hormones can contribute to what causes hair loss in young men.
An excess of male sex hormones (androgens) and other hormonal imbalances can cause thinning hair or baldness in men. Elevated levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can attach to hair follicles and inhibit hair growth.
Certain autoimmune disorders are associated with hair loss. This is due to the medications taken for the condition or from the disease itself. Individuals with Lupus, Alopecia, Crohn’s Disease, and Hashimoto’s Psoriasis have the possibility of experiencing hair loss, thinning hair, and balding.
Physical Trauma or Illness
Extreme physical trauma of any type can cause an abnormal amount of hair loss. A serious medical condition, invasive surgery, burns, or high fevers can shock the hair follicles, causing the growth cycle to slow or to stop completely. Bacterial or fungal skin infections are another cause of thinning hair or hair loss. Physical trauma to the scalp could result in permanent hair loss to the injured area.
Periods of prolonged stress are another culprit behind hair loss in young men. Physical or emotional stress can sometimes cause hair to thin, either overall or in spots. Job loss, divorce, bankruptcy, and other traumatic events can lead to hair loss.
Individuals who experience an overwhelming amount of emotional stress may see hair loss three to six months after the event. Emotional conditions such as clinical depression and social anxiety disorders are also associated with hair loss. Once these stressors are removed, hair loss typically stops and will regrow naturally.
Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can slow hair growth, eventually leading to hair loss. The lack of a healthy diet sometimes causes hair loss in young men.
Adequate amounts of protein, iron, zinc, and biotin are essential for proper hair growth. Unhealthy eating habits or crash diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can then cause hair to thin.
While more men are embracing self-care and practice proper grooming, you should not overdo things. Excessive hair drying, over-shampooing or conditioning, and the repeated use of excessively hot styling tools can all cause hair loss. Hairstyles that require the hair to be pulled incredibly tight over long periods are also associated with thinning hair. Styles such as cornrows, braids, dreadlocks, or even tight ponytails can, over time, damage the hair follicles. Using perms, hair relaxers, hot-oil treatments, and dyes is also associated with hair loss. Once the hair follicles are damaged, hair is unlikely to regrow.
Sufferers of severe anxiety and stress may develop a condition known as trichotillomania. This hair-pulling disorder can quickly lead to unnecessary hair loss. Those with this condition find pleasure or relief when pulling on the hair. Trichotillomania usually develops around the ages of 10 to 13, however, it can develop anytime during periods of extreme stress or anxiety.
When Should I Be Concerned about Hair Loss?
Everyone loses hair. This is a natural part of the cycle of hair growth and regeneration. There’s no need for panic or stress when you see some hair accumulated in the shower’s drain after a good washing.
The American Academy of Dermatologists reports that the average person loses between 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. Men who sport longer locks may notice more hair loss than those with shorter hair due to their length.
At any given moment, there are hundreds of thousands of hairs on our heads. In the grand scheme of things, losing a hundred a day isn’t even noticeable. Each strand of hair has an overall lifespan of two to five years, each one being in a different stage of its life. As some reach the end of their days, they will naturally fall out to be replaced by a new strand.
One way to learn if you’re losing more hair than what’s normal is to perform a tug test. Begin with a small patch of clean, dry hair and grip it loosely with your fingers. Gently run your fingers along the hair until you reach the end. Give the hair a gentle tug from the end and notice how many of them come loose. If three or more strands come out, you could be losing more hair than you should. Perform the tug test over different areas of your scalp.
How Do You Stop Hair Loss in Men?
The answer depends on the source of the hair loss. There are, however, some things you can do to slow down or prevent thinning hair and eventual hair loss.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A diet that’s high in vitamins B12 and D, iron, biotin, and riboflavin are a great start to ensuring that your body has the proper nutrients to support healthy hair. An overall healthy diet can help to keep your body running while helping to ensure you keep as much of your hair as possible. Foods that promote hair growth include:
- Fatty fish
In addition to a well-balanced hair-friendly diet, other options include taking over-the-counter vitamins and supplements that are targeted towards promoting hair health.
Avoid Tight Hairstyles
Men who come from families with a history of male pattern baldness should avoid choosing hairstyles that place a lot of tension on hair follicles. Over time, tight hairstyles can permanently damage hair follicles, and once damaged, bald spots can occur. Even those without a family history of baldness should be aware that placing too much constant pressure on the roots of the hair can cause permanent damage.
Natural Treatments for Hair Problems
Men experiencing hair thinning or loss may want to consider natural treatments for several reasons. Firstly, natural treatments are often less invasive and have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical ones, making them safer. Additionally, many natural remedies contain nutrients that promote hair growth and strengthen hair follicles, improving overall hair health. Natural treatments can also be more affordable than traditional treatments, making them accessible to more people. Finally, natural treatments allow men to approach their hair health holistically, addressing underlying issues contributing to hair loss or thinning.
Hair Loss Medical Treatment Options
Not all men are responsive to hair loss treatments. However, there are several promising products and treatment options available. They range from topical lotions to pills to scalp injections. You should consult with a board-certified dermatologist before making any decisions.
Here are a few popular treatment options:
- Finasteride: Finasteride is the generic version of Propecia. This pill is typically taken once daily and can help to restore hair growth. It blocks dihydrotestosterone, an antigen hormone that when in abundance, can inhibit hair growth.
- Minoxidil: Minoxidil, the generic form of Rogaine, is an over-the-counter topical medication that is massaged into the scalp twice a day. It helps to increase blood flow to the hair follicles which could result in stronger, fuller hair.
- PRP: Platelet-rich plasma treatments have worked successfully on some men who experience bald spots and thinning hair who are unresponsive to other treatments. Unfortunately, this treatment is much more invasive than pills or lotions. The process involves having blood drawn and then extracting the red blood cells. These cells are then injected into the scalp. The platelets stimulate the hair follicle to generate new hair growth.
What Causes Hair Loss in Young Men?
The causes of hair loss in young men can vary. If you feel you’re losing more hair than you should, first consult with your primary care physician who can determine if your hair loss is due to improper diet, medications, or other medical issues. You might also want to do a hormone test at home to see how you stand on that issue and schedule some blood work and health check-ups for a differential diagnosis regarding the underlying causes of your hair problems.
If you get a clean bill of health from your doctor, consult with a board-certified dermatologist who can suggest the best treatment options for you or get in touch with men’s health experts who can offer personalized hair loss treatments.