The Science Behind Men’s Hair Loss
There you are, in the prime of your life. You're an adult male in your mid-twenties with an active social life. You’re on top of the world until one day you start to notice something frustrating: You’re losing your hair...
Don’t freak out. Over half of men lose some hair by the age of 50. It is a completely normal occurrence. Many things can contribute to men’s hair loss, including genetics and vitamin deficiencies. In this article, we’ll discuss several causes of hair loss and suggest a few tips on how to prevent balding while we’re at it.
Main Cause: Male Pattern Baldness
The prevalence of male pattern baldness depends on genes you get from your parents. If your dad and grandfathers have thin hair or bald scalps, the odds are you will too. Scientists say genetics influence how sensitive your hair follicles are to DHT, a hormone that makes them shrink. As the follicles shrink, hair falls out and the hair that grows back is thinner and finer. This makes it appear like you have less hair than before. Eventually, hair takes longer to grow back and follicles shrink so that no hair grows at all.
In addition to genes, androgens have a major impact on men’s hair loss. These hormones serve to induce and maintain male secondary sex characteristics. Testosterone is the principal androgen. In males with a genetic tendency to experience male pattern baldness, testosterone interacts with an enzyme found in the hair follicles. This converts the testosterone into DHT, a more potent androgen. DHT binds to receptors in the hair follicles and queues a genetic change in the activity of the cells, starting the gradual process of hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is not the only thing that causes hair loss. Many other conditions, factors, and situations may trigger it.
Also known as alopecia areata, spot baldness is identified as hair falling out in smooth, round patches. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning your body attacks itself by destroying your hair. Hair usually grows back with this condition, though.
This is a rare disease in which hair follicles are destroyed and scar tissue is left in its place. With this condition, hair does not grow back.
Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. General weakness is a sign of anemia. Hair loss is a common result of anemia, as hemoglobin in the blood is responsible for carrying oxygen to cells for them to grow and repair themselves. Without sufficient hemoglobin, hair follicles won’t receive the proper stimulation necessary for growth. This can be prevented by making sure you consume enough iron for your body to produce this important substance.
The drugs you take as you undergo chemotherapy attack rapidly growing cancer cells. The cells in hair roots also grow rapidly, so as a side effect, they are attacked as well. This can include eyebrows and body hair. This hair loss is often temporary, as hair cells regrow after the conclusion of chemotherapy.
A scalp infection called folliculitis is defined by the inflammation of hair follicles. This can occur anywhere on the body where hair grows. Folliculitis causes small itchy bumps on the skin or scalp and can cause temporary hair loss.
Vitamin Deficiencies and Excesses
You may be surprised to learn that problems with your diet can contribute to hair loss. We already discussed the effects of iron deficiencies. On the other hand, certain vitamins in excess can also be detrimental. While vitamin A can stimulate hair growth, an excess intake can push your hair cells into overdrive. The hair will reach the end of its growth phase too quickly and fall out. If your body does not recover quickly enough to replace it, you will end up with thinner hair and perhaps even balding.
Many things in our lives can cause stress – we could write a whole blog about stress and how to cope with it. For now, we’ll point out the three types of hair loss that stress can cause. The first is telogen effluvium. Too much stress pushes large numbers of follicles into a resting phase. These hairs may fall out within a few months while you are washing or combing your hair. The next type is trichotillomania, an unbearable urge to pull hair out of the scalp or other parts of the body. This is an unhealthy way of coping with stress and other negative feelings. Stress can also contribute to alopecia areata, which we mentioned previously. Ultimately, stress can make the body’s immune system attack itself, and this includes your hair.
Wearing Hairstyles that Put Pressure on Roots
Keeping some hairstyles for many years can lead to hair loss. Styles like tight ponytails, cornrows, extensions, or braids for many years put stress on hair follicles. The constant pulling slowly yanks hair out of the scalp. This hair loss from repeated tension is called traction alopecia. If caught early on, the effects can be reversed.
How to Prevent Hair Loss
Now that you know the science behind men’s hair loss, you’re probably wondering how to prevent balding. Once hair starts to thin and hairlines start to recede, there is no stopping it. However, you can slow it down. You can rub substances containing minoxidil into the scalp to stimulate men’s hair growth. You can also take finasteride pills to slow the effects of hair loss.
If you’re looking for a more natural approach, we’ve got your back (or should we say hair…) at Johnny Slicks. We carry the best organic shampoo for men’s hair loss as well as other organic hair care products. For many of us, losing hair is simply part of getting older, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. Do what you can to keep your hair while you’re in the prime of your life.