How to support the man in your life: male hair loss, potential causes and treatment options

Most men will experience some level of hair loss in their lives. The most common condition is called androgenetic alopecia, and it is a genetic condition; however, there are other conditions or events that can cause hair loss in men. Nearly all men will experience some form of hair loss by the time they reach their sixties, although the amount of hair loss itself will vary, and so for some men, it may be barely noticeable, whereas, for others, it will be significant.

For some men, hair loss can be extremely distressing, and it can have a huge impact on their self-esteem and their mental health as a whole. However, learning more about the causes and treatment options can means that you can help them to adjust. Read on to find out more.

What Does Hair Loss Look Like?

Typically, the hair first begins to thin and recede at the temples. The hair then begins to thin out more on the top of the head, and a bald patch gradually develops in the middle of the scalp. Finally, the receding sides and the bald patch enlarge and gradually join together. Often, a rim of hair is left around the back and sides of the scalp. In some men, this also thins out too leaving a completely bald scalp. Although this process can vary, for example, for some men, their hair loss is categorised by a receding hairline that gradually moves further and further back.

The Process Behind Hair Loss

Hair is produced by hair follicles which are essentially tiny pouches just under the surface of the skin. Normally, a strand of hair grows out of each follicle for about three years before the hair is shed, and the cycle starts again. For men who experience hair loss, this cycle is affected. First, the follicles become smaller, which means they produce thinner and thinner strands of hair. The hairs are shed more quickly until, eventually, the follicle stops producing hair. It is sometimes due to a hormonal sensitivity. Testosterone is converted into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, and on occasion, the hair follicles can become sensitive to this hormone, and this is what first causes the hair follicles to shrink

Common Causes

Whilst the aforementioned hormonal sensitivity is the leading cause of hair loss; it is not the only condition that can trigger balding in men. With androgenetic alopecia, there often aren’t any other symptoms that accompany it. However, with other causes, there can be other symptoms too. And with other causes, the hair loss can be less predictable; it can occur in random spots all over the head.

Alopecia areata is a condition that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack the hair follicles. This leads to hair loss, but it is often limited to a few small patches. Although alopecia areata can also affect other areas of the body too, for example, there can also be bald spots in the eyebrows and beard. The hair may or may not grow back.

Telogen effluvium is a condition that causes excessive shedding. This is often caused by a shock to the system or a stressful event. For example, it can be triggered by an accident, illness, weight loss or intense psychological stress. In most cases, the hair grows back within a few months.

A nutritional deficiency can also cause hair loss. Optimal levels of nutrients are vital for a person’s overall health as well as healthy hair growth. Protein and vitamin intake help to maintain healthy hair. A deficiency in these nutrients can cause more hair loss than normal. However, it is easily remedied with a change in diet.

Hair loss can also occur as a side effect from taking a medication, although this is usually temporary, and once the medication is stopped, the hair grows back. Some drugs known to cause hair loss include chemotherapy drugs, Accutane, antifungal drugs, heparin, warfarin, immunosuppressants, blood pressure medications, antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Complications

Understandably, hair loss can affect a man’s confidence, and their mental health takes a tumble. In some cases, counselling can help a man to regain his confidence and come to terms with his hair loss. There is also an increased risk of sunburn and sun-related skin damage in general, as obviously, there is no hair to protect the scalp from the sun. This is why it is important to remember the scalp when putting on sun cream.

Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options for men who are losing their hair. However, arguably the most effective and long-term treatment is a hair transplant. When intervention is done early enough, it is incredibly effective. Healthy hair follicles are harvested and relocated, so early intervention is important as there needs to be enough healthy hair follicles to transplant without leaving the areas of harvest sparse. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is not available on the NHS, and so it can be costly, which is why most Brits opt to go abroad for the treatment. The Longevita Hair Transplant is offered by the Longevita Clinic, which is located in Turkey. Turkey is a popular destination for many looking for cosmetic procedures as they have an abundance of highly trained surgeons who are often far more affordable. 

There are also medications that can be taken, although again, they are not available on the NHS. Finasteride was launched in the UK back in 2002, and it works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. The hair follicles are then not affected by this hormone, and they can return to their normal size. It can take a couple of months before any change is noticeable and up to a couple of years for full regrowth. It is often a lifelong medication as stopping it causes the follicles to shrink back down again. Minoxidil is a lotion that is applied topically, and it can be found at pharmacies without a prescription. However, there is a debate on how effective it is. It is most effective when used early on rather than after most hair loss has taken place. It seems that it is best used to prevent further hair loss, although regrowth does occur for some users.

Those are the only treatments for hair loss. Some men choose not to intervene at all, and if this is the case, then there is no need to change the hair care routine as it will not make the hair fall out any faster. For the men who do not want treatment, it is better to find a style that suits them. For example, a shorter style will make the hair loss less apparent, or some men choose to shave their heads entirely.

Lastly, there is always wigs or hairpieces, which has long been the traditional option. Some people find them useful, whereas for others, they are not convincing, and they can be uncomfortable. Finding a good one can also be expensive; however, very few treatments for hair loss are available on the NHS.

In Conclusion

Hair loss in men is incredibly common, and it can be a mentally exhausting process. However, as some causes are reversible, it isn’t all doom and gloom. If their form is not reversible, there are treatment options that can help slow the process or completely restore the hair.

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