Thinning hair and male pattern baldness are a reality of ageing for many men around the world. Male pattern baldness is so common that it is estimated that two out of every three men will experience some or total hair loss in their lives. Preventing hair thinning and loss starts with understanding why it happens. So, this article will cover why it happens and what you can do if you have male pattern baldness or hair thinning.
Understanding Hair Loss in Men
It is normal to lose some hair every day, with most men losing about 100 hair strands every day. This loss is typically not noticeable because new hair grows to replace what was lost. In some cases, the hair might fall off too fast or new hair might not grow fast enough to replace it. New hair might also not grow altogether, and all three lead to baldness.
Depending on the cause, some men will experience hair thinning first, while some men will have a patch that increasingly gets larger. So, what causes hair loss in men?
The most common cause of hair thinning and loss in men is genetics and family history. Men whose relatives have hair thinning and loss are much more likely to have some thinning and loss themselves. This is more so if you have male pattern baldness on the maternal side. Such hair loss can start with thinning of the head’s crown or a receding hairline.
Another common cause is medical conditions and treatments. Conditions like hormonal problems can lead to hair loss. Other issues like scalp infections and thyroid problems will also lead to thinning and loss. The immune system can also attack the hair follicles in a condition known as alopecia areata. This leads to bald patches that do not typically have a pattern.
Several medications, typically those used to treat cancer, gout, depression, heart disease and arthritis, can also cause such hair loss. If you have chronic stress, you should get treated for it because it can also cause these issues.
Hair Loss Prevention and Treatment
It is impossible to stop hair loss caused by genetics, but there are various options that help slow it down. Also, it is possible to treat other causes of thinning and hair loss depending on their cause.
Eating a Balanced Diet
Changing your diet is one of the easiest things to do once you realise you are losing some hair. A balanced diet with the right nutrients can help keep your hair in top shape thus preventing these issues.
Start by adding larger portions of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean proteins and unsaturated fats to your diet. These contain various helpful minerals and vitamins. Also, eat more:
- Iron-rich foods – These include eggs, green leafy vegetables, lean beef and iron-fortified grains
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids – These include most types of fish, egg yolk, walnuts and hemp seeds
- High-protein foods – Seafood, lean meats and eggs
Proper hydration is also important for proper hair health, so drink enough water.
Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help with hair loss. These include foams, ointments, shampoos and more. They can include several ingredients that help with hair thinning and loss, with the most popular one being minoxidil. This is a topical hair loss treatment option used to promote the growth of thicker hair which prevents thinning and breakage. It has also been shown to increase the growth period of hair which leads to more hair strands and longer hair.
Minoxidil is safe and approved for home use, which is why it is included in men’s hair growth shampoo products. These can be used in the shower as you would use any other shampoo to combat hair thinning in men and give yourself fuller hair and make you feel good about yourself.
Finasteride works by lowering the levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. High levels of DHT are associated with hair thinning and thus hair loss. Although it works as expected, it comes with some warnings.
First, it should only be used by adult males. Second, some studies suggest that it could lead to erectile dysfunction and low libido. For this reason, you should talk to your doctor before taking Finasteride. Its serious side effects are also the reason it cannot be purchased over the counter and is often recommended a lot less than minoxidil.
Changing Hair Care Products
There is evidence to show that certain healthcare products can lead to hair thinning and thus hair loss. These include those that contain ingredients known to harm the hair, including causing it to dry out, become softer and become frayed. Some chemicals used in these products can also get trapped in the hair follicles, thus inhibiting the growth of new hair. Fortunately, it is easy to reverse the effects of these products.
First, you need to stop using them on any part of the body. Next, you need to talk to a professional so they can advise you on what to do to minimise the damage already done. Lastly, research every ingredient in new haircare products you are considering using. Ensure there are no reports of these ingredients causing thinning, hair loss and other issues.
Reduce Shower Temperatures
Hot showers can be invigorating, but you need to be careful not to take showers that are too hot. This is because the higher water temperature will strip the scalp of essential oils. These oils protect the scalp, and their absence can lead to hair thinning, loss and growth issues. Loss of these oils can also lead to additional issues including dryness, inflammation and an increased dandruff.
All these issues combined can lead to the miniaturisation of hair follicles, a phenomenon that leads to thinning and regrowth issues.
Get a Scalp Massage
Massages, like hot showers, have a lot of health benefits. Some studies now suggest that scalp massages can help with hair loss. They do this by stimulating the hair follicles which leads to fuller and strong hair. Some research also shows people felt their hair was much fuller after receiving a scalp massage for an extended period.
Reduce Stress Levels
Stress affects your body in numerous ways, having side effects such as making it much harder to sleep and increasing the likelihood of hair loss. Considering that we live in a very stressful time, many men are at the risk of hair thinning and loss due to this reason.
The good news is that reducing your stress levels will help with not only your hair loss, but with other areas of your life. Some of the best ways to reduce stress include getting enough sleep, meditating and doing yoga, listening to music and exercising regularly.
Hair transplants are typically seen as the last resort for men who cannot find a viable solution to their hair loss. The two most common types of hair transplants are follicular unit transfer and follicular unit transfer. Both of these have shown exceptional results but can be costly for some people.
Hair thinning and loss are a part of ageing for men, but there are several options for slowing it down and treating it. These can range from medical interventions to lifestyle changes, and these solutions have been shown to produce amazing results in those who have used them.