When faced with thinning hair many of us try to find solutions without first trying to find out what is causing it. So, what are the causes of hair loss in men?
Most forms of hair loss can be treated but it takes time to find the right solution. With male pattern baldness, after time the hair follicles shrivel up and hair is incapable of re-growing. As we get older, our follicles stop producing hair. This is known as hereditary hair loss and is typically permanent, meaning that the hair will not grow back.
Our hair grows approximately half an inch a month, or six inches a year. It is normal to lose approximately 150 hairs from our scalp each day as part of our normal hair cycle, but this depends on our daily hair routine – washing and brushing and even resting our head of the pillow when we sleep. In normal circumstances, our hair grows automatically which means that the total number of hairs on our head remains constant.
Common Causes of Hair Loss in Men
When our immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, this is known as alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune condition. Hair typically falls out in small patches, but it can also fall out from other parts of the body, such as arms, legs, eyelashes or eyebrows.
Androgenetic alopecia is likely the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women and is usually associated with ageing. In this case, hair is lost in a very defined pattern, beginning above both temples and eventually forming an “M” shape.
Traction alopecia is a much more common hair loss condition in older people because their hair follicles naturally weaken over time. The following are some causes of this condition:
- constant pulling, usually as the result of hairstyling;
- some hairstyles including plaits, cornrows, dreadlocks and tight ponytails;
- hair extensions and weaves that are glued or tightly tied to the base of the hair which may cause tension at the roots;
- excessive styling or exposure to chemicals and even the sun can cause broken hairs which can result in thinning;
- having very long hair, the weight of which can pull on the hair follicles; and
- nutritional deficiencies can cause side effects that may include degrees of hair loss,
to name a few.
Age, thyroid problems, genetics and diseases can all cause hair loss. Whether your hair grows back after a loss will depend on what caused your hair loss in the first place.
Men can lose hair due to changes in their hormones as they age. Women may lose hair after childbirth or while going through menopause. Although it can be difficult to say when hair will grow back, hair loss due to hormonal changes or imbalances is temporary once the underlying cause is remedied.
Deficiencies in Nutrition
A lack of zinc or iron in your diet can cause thinning of the hair and hair loss over a period of time. Once any deficiency has been corrected, hair growth might be restored, although this can take several months.
The makeup of our hair is made almost entirely of protein, therefore eating a balanced diet with foods high in protein is important for it to grow.
Psoriasis of the Scalp
This is an autoimmune disease which causes scaly red patches to form on the skin. To relieve the itchiness, we tend to scratch the area to try to remove the scales and this can make the condition much worse. Once an effective treatment is found for the condition, and you stop scratching your scalp, your hair will start the growth process
Common Hair Loss Condition – Male Pattern Baldness
A large majority of men will experience male pattern baldness to some extent as they age. Testosterone (a male sex hormone vital for adult male features like body and facial hair) acts on the hair follicles and in some families, the genes make the follicles much more sensitive to testosterone. This, in turn, leads to the hairs becoming thinner and breaking off.
Preventative Measures to Combat Hair Loss
Measures to prevent damage to our hair can be as simple as:
- avoiding very tight hairstyles where possible and wearing your hair down as loosely as possible, whenever possible;
- massaging your scalp as you wash it, which encourages blood flow to the hair follicles;
- using a shampoo rich in keratin or vitamin E;
- have your hair trimmed every six weeks to get rid of split ends;
- avoiding using harsh chemicals on your hair, especially hair relaxers on already relaxed hair; and
- having a qualified hairstylist to administer chemicals to your hair i.e. when dyeing and relaxing your hair.
While it is not always easy finding the cause or causes of hair loss, once identified changes can be made to getting your hair back to its normal state, although in some cases, this is not possible. Finding out the causes of hair loss in men is just the start; finding a solution or a cure is the next step.