Are you worried about hair loss? It’s a common problem. In fact, by the time men turn 50 years of age, 85 per cent will experience significant hair loss. Some men may even begin to see their hair thinning before they reach their mid-twenties. So, what causes hair loss? And can men prevent it from happening faster than it would otherwise naturally occur?
Hair loss myths
Let’s begin by eliminating some hair loss myths. Wearing a hat, or someone running their fingers through your hair won’t cause hair loss. Combing, brushing, twisting, or gently styling your hair can’t be held responsible either. However, it’s best to avoid being too rough with your manly mane so as to prevent hair breakage.
More than 95 per cent of male hair loss is due to genetics. The male-pattern baldness gene can come from either parent. Male-pattern baldness can also be blamed on the overproduction of a hormone called DHT that causes hair follicles to shrink – often to the point that no hair can grow from within them. Certain medicines, too much vitamin A, or not getting enough protein can also lead to hair loss. Shedding of hair can also be caused by illness or excessive stress. Often, though, hair loss that is not related to male-pattern baldness can be reversed.
Many studies show that smoking can lead to a worsening of male-pattern baldness. In other words, if you need a reason to quit smoking, maybe early hair loss will be a deciding factor?
Possible treatment options
Preventing hair loss is easier than replacing hair once it’s gone. There are plenty of so-called miracle treatments but most of them are unproven.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for male-pattern baldness, but you can slow it down with some medicines. Minoxidil (e.g. Rogaine) is an over-the-counter medication which, when applied to your scalp, can help slow the rate of hair loss in men. Some men may even grow new hair. But beware – once you stop using this product your hair loss will resume. It’s best to speak to your pharmacist for advice on how to use Minoxil properly.
Finasteride is a prescription-only pill that slows hair loss by reducing the body’s production of DHT. Similarly to minoxidil (but generally considered a better product), some men have grown new hair while using it, but it works only as long as it’s used. You will need to speak to a doctor to see if this medicine is suitable for you.
An alternative to taking medicine is wearing a hairpiece. Nowadays, there’s a wide range and, as with most things, quality will depend on cost. Hairpieces also require a lot of maintenance that can be expensive. When looking for the perfect hairpiece, be sure to match your own hair colour as well as your thickness and curl.
A hair transplant is another option. It’s when a doctor transfers healthy hair from the back and side of your head to the top to restore a natural look. Hair transplants can be very costly and patients may need to undergo several procedures to ensure a certain level of success. The hair that is transplanted will shed after two months, but new hair should grow back in its place, and in about six months the hair starts to look normal again.
If none of the aforementioned procedures are for you, then why not try cutting your thinning hair short to avoid obvious comb-overs? Or try using hair care and styling products that add volume to your hair. The shaved/bald look can also look great on many men. Either way, it’s best to look after the hair that you have left by eating a balanced diet, keeping in shape, and handling your hair gently when styling.
If you’re worried about hair loss, it’s best to see your doctor or a dermatologist for advice.
Read more about hair loss at WebMD.