Every man loses his hair progressively as he becomes older. It’s a natural process and usually inevitable after the 70s. The statistics show that losing hair day by day is a harsh reality for about 2 out of 3 men by the age of 60, though. The worst news is that some men start balding in their early 20s. The causes are different and without a full medical examination it’s impossible to set a precise diagnosis. But learning the most critical processes of hair thinning is important.
So why do we lose hair from the head faster than from the rest parts of the body? The hair on the scalp has its own nature and is different to arm hair, or leg hair, or elsewhere else on your body. The scalp hair tends to grow in follicular units, producing tufts of 2 to 5 hairs emerging from a single follicle. All follicular units have one primary hair that’s present at birth or shortly after it. The secondary hairs start growing and being visible at the age of 2 to 3. That’s why the baby’s hair is fine, downy, and light, but gets thick and bushy by the age of 6 to 7.
When hair loss first starts, you experience the shrinking of the secondary hairs on the affected scalp, and the follicular units produce only one primary hair instead of a tuft of 2 to 5 hairs. Your hair volume reduces by 50% but you may not notice this process until the bald scalp emerges. The visible bald spot occurs when the primary hair, which is the last remaining fiber forming the tuft, disappears. It’s almost impossible to stop the balding process then.
Although hair loss is often considered to be hereditary, your family and relatives might not be to blame. You and your lifestyle – and even haircut - might be the real cause of follicle fallout. The process is distressing and can affect your confidence and certain aspects of life. But if you notice hair thinning at an earlier stage, you have all the chances to stop hair loss and get a full head of hair.
3 Major Areas of Your Scalp That Tend to Lose Hair
Hair thinning progress in a highly distinctive and reproducible pattern and typically occurs in these 3 areas of the scalp:
1. The mid-frontal part at the top of the head
Even though it’s mostly prominent in Asian men, many men worldwide experience a rapid hair loss over the mid-frontal section of the scalp. It’s visible as the central part-line widening and can progress either very slowly or unexpectedly fast.
2. The crown
Hair thinning on the crown begins at the back of the head (around the whorl), and spreads outwards in different directions, causing a circular baldness. Some men experience a smaller focus of hair loss that happens at the 6 o’clock border.
3. The temple
Every boy experience hair thinning in the temple area as he transitions from adolescence to manhood. The process begins at the anterior hairline and can move backward. While the hair loss in the temple is mild, many guys have a visible bitemporal recession, which can cause hair thinning in the other parts of the scalp in the future. The statistics show that less than 5% of men manage to retain the straight anterior hairline, reducing their risk of baldness.
The occipital scalp is the only scalp region that doesn’t lose hair. The hair from that part is used to conceal the baldness of the other parts of the head during a hair transplantation surgery.
Natural Hair Loss vs. Genetics
The two root causes why you see your hair fall out are either because of genetics or the natural aging process.
Genetics is the leading root cause of male baldness. The researchers from the University of Bonn estimated that more than 80% of causes of male hair loss are hereditary. It’s hard to avoid it, but if you know that someone from your family tree suffered from baldness, you should take the preventative steps as soon as you turn 20.
The second root cause of hair thinning is the natural aging process that no one can avoid – be you a man or a woman. We tend to lose about 100 hairs from the head daily and it’s normal, as it’s an essential part of the aging process. Most of these old hairs are replaced by the new ones, so there’s no reason to cry over those fallen locks. However, if your hairs don’t grow back, it’s a warning sign that you should consult a specialist and also take certain preventive actions.
6 Home Remedies for Hair Loss
5 Disturbing Reasons of Male Hair Loss
Now that you have a general idea of the hair loss process and its root causes, it’s time to find out about the most widespread and alarming reasons for baldness in men. Of course, there are many other minor reasons, so don’t rush to make a conclusion unless a doctor examines you for a possible chronic hair thinning.
1. Stress, anxiety, and mental disorders
Stress is the main culprit for almost every disease – from chronic fatigue and insomnia to heart disease and cancer. While short-term stress can have no effect on your overall wellbeing, long-term stress can even lead to stroke or heart attack. We live in a hectic world, so stress is inevitable. If you’re highly sensitive person, your stress level may never go down, increasing your risk of serious health issues. High family and society expectations, technology, career problems, financial issues, breakups, divorce, deaths of loved ones, life changes, and inner battle…these are just a few things that can lead to serious health problems, including baldness.
Long-term or chronic stress can negatively affect your hormone levels, raising cortisol. If you ignore the problem, it can lead to the liver issues and the increased hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. This rapid boost in DHT lowers the size and amount of hair follicles, causing hair thinning and drastic hair loss.
Stress causes a number of serious conditions that trigger hair loss, including:
- Trichotillomania – a bad habit of pulling out your hair without realizing it. As a result, you may see some hair thinning spots and think that it’s a sign of baldness, but forget that you pulled out that hair.
- Telogen effluvium – a condition when stress makes your hair roots be pushed untimely into the resting state. If not treated immediately, it can become chronic and acute.
- Alopecia areata – a condition when you suddenly lose large clumps of hair around your scalp. It can also cause hair loss on your face and other areas of your body.
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, aim to reduce your stress levels and cultivate mindfulness, which is the key to a stress-free life. Many men confess that they handle hair thinning by meditating and practicing yoga on a daily basis.
Hair loss is also one of the symptoms of chronic anxiety. And the major cause of chronic anxiety is chronic stress. However, if you experience severe panic attacks, it’s not enough to just fight stress. You need to undergo a special treatment before your chronic anxiety turns into a chronic depression or even more serious mental disorder like schizophrenia.
Keep your mental health healthy and see your hair grow back again. If stress or anxiety isn’t a culprit. Here are some more causes.
2. Hormone changes
It’s believed that women are more likely to deal with hormone changes, but men are prone to such changes as well.
One of the major mechanisms behind baldness is the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into DHT. When this hormone is formed, it lowers the size of hair follicles in men with a genetic predisposition to baldness, and in due course, the smaller follicles produce thinner and shorter hair. Compared to women, men usually have a lot more testosterone in the body, and it’s believed to be the major reason why hair loss is more common in men rather than women.
The problem with the thyroid hormones can also cause hair loss in men. Hair thinning is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is a dangerous condition when the body lacks a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. This seemingly common condition has recently been shown to cause a great number of cancers. If you have a thyroid issue, make sure you treat it as soon as possible.
According to Andrology Australia, at least one out of 200 men has a low testosterone level. Naturally, a man’s testosterone level has a tendency to drop 1% every year, starting at the age of 30. No matter how old you are, it’s critical to maintain a healthy testosterone level and watch your overall hormone balance.
In order to prevent hormone imbalance, thus reduce your risk of hair loss, get into a habit of working out each day, boost your calcium intake, detoxify your body at least once a year, include anti-oestrogen foods in your daily meal plan, get enough sleep, and of course, eliminate stress from your life.
3. Poor diet
Your eating habits can also affect your hair loss. The hair is made up of keratin, which is a tough protein essential for healthy hair growth. When you’re not consuming enough protein, this causes an iron deficiency, and later hair loss.
Your hair craves the same well-balanced diet that supplies all the vital vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other compounds needed for good wellbeing in the rest of the body. Healthy hair is growing appropriately out of each follicle. It’s not easily broken, and it’s connected to a healthy scalp. When any nutrient deficiency pops up, this process is ruined and this can lead to severe baldness.
Apart from protein, you also need vitamin E, vitamin D, iron, and trace minerals such as magnesium, copper, and selenium to maintain healthy hair. Iron is involved in the various protein productions that make up your hair while vitamin D plays a crucial role in your hair cycle.
You can get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun or by eating eggs and vitamin D fortified foods like cereals, milk, and orange juice. Some of the best sources of iron are spinach, spirulina, lentils, white beans, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and dark chocolate. If you don’t get enough protein, consider adding black beans, peanut butter, artichokes, seitan, hummus, milk, eggs, quinoa, and asparagus to your diet.
Oftentimes, a balanced diet is the best treatment for hair loss in both men and women. If you’re sure you’re getting all the essential nutrients and you still keep losing your hair, it may also be because of poor blood circulation in your scalp.
4. Poor blood circulation
Like any part of your body needs a healthy blood supply to provide amino acids and micronutrients and ensure the proper function of each organ, your scalp needs a good blood circulation for healthy hair growth. If your hair follicles are weak, your hair lifeless and dull, and you’ve noticed that you start losing your hair, it may be a sign of poor blood circulation in your scalp. The follicles are naturally nurtured by the blood flowing from the scalp to the hair, which delivers the essential nutrients like iron and protein your hair needs for optimal growth.
What are the causes of reduced blood flow to your scalp? Absolutely different, but the major ones include bad eating habits, smoking, alcohol, air pollution, sedentary lifestyle, and stress. Get rid of these factors and add yoga to your daily life to improve your blood circulation and hair health. Also, make sure you get enough quality sleep each night and hydrate your body throughout the day.
If you take any prescription drugs, such as beta-blockers, blood thinners, and antidepressants, pay attention to how you feel after them. Medications have plenty of side effects, including blood circulation problems and therefore hair loss.
There are several infection-related conditions and infectious agents that can cause hair loss in men – both permanently and temporarily.
- Demodex folliculorum: This is a microscopic creature (parasite) in the form of a jointed and elongated worm that likes to live in the hair follicles and on the skin overall. It feeds on the skin oils and dead skin and can be a reason of your constant hair shedding. It’s difficult to know whether or not you have this worm-like creature. The only visible sign is the itchy eyelashes.
- Ringworm: A fungal infection that can affect any part of your body, including your scalp, causing the patches of hair loss. It starts as a small pimple that gradually enlarges in size and leaves the scaly patches of baldness. The affected area is often inflamed, red, itchy, and with scaly patches that may ooze and blister. It’s treatable and that baldness is temporary.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Even though it’s a skin condition, it can cause infection and lead to temporary hair loss in men, especially if the dermatitis is located on your scalp. This inflammatory condition causes inflamed, oily, and scaly skin that can be painful to touch and unbearably itchy. Apart from hair loss, seborrheic dermatitis can also be associated with conditions such as head injury, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. Chronic fatigue, stress and anxiety can make it worse.
- Folliculitis: This is an inflammation of hair follicles. It resembles acne breakouts with tiny rings of inflammation surrounding the opening of the hair follicles. As the inflammation progresses, the hair starts falling out. If ignored, chronic folliculitis can permanently ruin the hair follicles and leave little bald patches.
- Trichomycosis nodularis (or piedra): It’s a condition when the hair fibers are affected by a fungus. The infection involves the development and growing of the hard nodules on the hair fibers. There are white piedra and black piedra – both are harmful and can lead to numerous health issues. Piedra can weaken the hair fibers, making them easy to break off, resulting in a diffuse, patchy hair loss.
- Syphilis: Despite being a sexually transmitted disease, syphilis can cause brittle or thinning hair.
In order to avoid these infections, improve your hair care habits and eat foods that have antifungal, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties, such as garlic, cinnamon, coconut oil, honey, seaweed, onions, ginger, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, lemon, cayenne pepper, gluten-free whole grains, yogurt, kefir, cloves, cruciferous vegetables, turmeric, walnuts, etc.
There are many things that can trigger hair loss in men. The key to preventing baldness is to figure out the root cause at the early stage and start treating it immediately. The treatment may involve certain medications, supplementation, diet changes, scalp massages, special creams, and physical activities. Take care of your male health, regulate your hormones, eat healthy, and ditch bad habits and luckily it will be enough to restore your hair health. If not, look for a professional help that involves a full scalp examination and a host of tests.
© 2017 Haider