Hair loss, or in more technical terms androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) is a benign condition that affects around two thirds of all men. Its tell-tale signs include thinning and eventual loss of hair either at the front of the head, around the scalp area or both. The onset of the condition varies significantly between different individuals. For some, hair loss is gradual, spanning over the course of more than 15 years prior to entering so-called middle age. Others can experience a sudden and quick hair loss in their twenties. But, despite these variations, by the time they reach 30, all men will experience alopecia to some extent.
What’s on this page?
According to the NHS (National Health Service – UK), we lose up to 50-100 hairs a day, often without noticing.1 It’s estimated that some 40% of men by age 35 experience some degree of noticeable hair loss. These statistics double between the older ages of 60 and 80, with the number of men suffering from noticeable hair loss between those years at a whopping 80%.
There are numerous different therapies and techniques which have proven to offer quality results; from shampoos to lifestyle changes: cutting down on smoking, improving vitamin deficiency etc, to the more drastic (expensive but effective) hair transplant surgery.
With all of this in mind, the first step is to assess the different types of hair loss that affects people and the severity of the condition. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most common form of hair loss is known as hereditary hair loss.2
OTHER TERMS USED INCLUDE:
- Male-pattern baldness.
- Female-pattern baldness.
- Androgenetic alopecia.
What causes hair loss in men?
There are many different factors that can contribute to the onset of this condition including stress, unhealthy diet, illness or genetic and hereditary factors. In those cases where alopecia is brought on by stress or illness, the condition might be temporary in a manner, meaning that the hair may regrow after recovery. However, this doesn’t mean that the condition won’t strike again, although due to different reasons.
Dietary causes of hair loss
Research has also pointed at the direct link between lack of certain dietary elements and hair loss. Based on this, the scientists concluded that our dietary choices can have a noticeable impact on slowing down and postponing hair loss. Some general guidelines regarding this include advice on ensuring a proper amount of different vitamins, minerals and elements in your diet. Some of the most important include:
- Vitamin D
At the same time, it is advisable to avoid processed animal fats, like those found in fast food.
The importance of genetics
However, it would seem that the most important factor that determines when will you experience alopecia and to what extent is definitely the hereditary factor. Genetics play the main role here – if male pattern baldness runs in your family, the chances are very high you’ll be affected too.
For men who lose their hair because of genetic factors, it is highly unlikely that any dietary choices could slow down the process, let alone reverse it! In this scenario, the only thing that could help is one of the contemporary medicines that are designed specifically with this task in mind.
Types of hair loss
There are numerous different types of hair loss, some more severe than others and in some cases, it affects both men and women. We’ll start off with the most common.
Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern hair loss (MPHL) or female pattern hair loss (FPHL) affects both men and women. It’s the most common form of hair loss that can cause complete hair loss in otherwise unhealthy people. It’s estimated that 70% of men are expected to experience some degree of androgenetic alopecia hair loss at some point in their lives, as opposed to 40% of women.
Androgenetic alopecia is both genetic and age-related.
Treatment: Androgenetic alopecia has proven to be the most common form of hair loss and is usually most difficult to deal with. The reason being that this form of hair loss is genetic. Although a healthy lifestyle high in necessary vitamins and exercise can slow hair loss, with this form of hair loss it’s quite frankly inevitable.
There are however numerous medically tested and proven supplements and drugs which have proven to slow down hair loss most effectively and come well-recommended from trusted doctors.
This form of hair loss is mainly age-related. As one gets older, there begins the process of the thinning of the hair. In addition, it begins to take longer to grow. The volume and thickness of the hair, therefore, reduces dramatically with age.
Treatment: This form of hair loss is a normal part of the ageing process, and one shouldn’t worry too much. However, eating a balanced diet with sufficient minerals and vitamins, like Vitamin B (B-Complex is recommended), Vitamin D; Zinc & fish oil supplements are also highly recommended for improving hair growth and thickness.
Sometimes called spot baldness, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes one to lose hair from different parts of the body. As in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system begins to attack the body, the results are seen in the hair in the form of circular patches. In approximately 2% of the cases, the condition can result in entire loss of hair from the body (alopecia universalis).
Treatment: This form of hair loss is treated with corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormone which can be administered through injection, oral/pill form or though a cream. It has proven to provide moderate relief for people suffering with alopecia areata.
Considered rare when found in adults, tinea capitis is a fungal infection that’s usually found in children and affect the scalp and the hair. The condition is characterised by single or multiple patches in the head and loss of hair. The scalp may also become itchy and inflamed.
Treatment: Drugs that fight against fungus are standard for dealing with tinea capitis.
Antifungal Drugs include:
- Griseofulvin (Fulvicin)
- Itraconazole (Sporanox)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
- Terbinafine (Lamisil)
NOTE: IT’S IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE ACCESSING THESE DRUGS
Coping with hair loss
This condition is far from dangerous in any way. However, this does not mean that it’s not very uncomfortable and that it won’t have an impact on one’s life. Losing hair is very stressful for many men as they might look at it as a sign of getting old and losing their good looks. But, everybody copes with this issue differently. Some try to prevent, reverse or hide the process, while others embrace it as a normal part of growing old. The important thing is that you are not alone – especially if your male pattern baldness is caused by genetic factors.
You can always try and talk to relatives or friends who went through the process of losing hair. Getting a new perspective on the issue can often be helpful in determining whether you want to accept your condition or seek out treatment.
Hair loss treatments
Hair loss treatment is a very popular choice among those men who opted for fighting male pattern baldness, especially at the early stages. Medicines such as Propecia are showing promising results so far, considerably slowing down the process of hair thinning. However, as of now, 100% efficient treatment that will completely prevent alopecia doesn’t exist.
On the other hand, due to popularity and high demand for these products, contemporary markets are filled with fake medicines claiming to be effective without being even clinically tested. To avoid wasting your money and risking potentially dangerous side effects, it is important to always use clinically tested and approved treatments.
Is Propecia an effective hair loss treatment?
Propecia is not only clinically tested and approved hair loss treatment, but it is also among the most effective ones that can be found on the market. Its immense success was foreshadowed in the clinical trials where as many as 90% of men reported noticeable improvements regarding their condition.
What about hair loss shampoo?
It’s not hard to come across ads that promise to grow back the lush hair you had when you were a teen, or even to slow down your hair loss. To be quite frank, there’s not much that shampoo can do if you’re suffering from an extreme case of male pattern hair loss (MPHL), or if it has already reached the latter stages (check out our hair transplant surgery section). However. If there’s certainly no harm in trying to save what you have, and in most cases the right shampoo may be just what you need.
Choosing the right Shampoo to combat hair loss is critical. The right hair shampoo would give your hair the nutrients it needs to stay strong, while soothing the scalp in case it’s suffered some damage.
Quality hair shampoo has the following ingredients:
- SAW PALMETTO
How do hair loss treatments work?
First thing that we need to note is that there is no magic cure for baldness. Ageing and genetics play just too big of a role to be simply ruled out of the equation and at this point, modern medicine can’t deal with either process. So, all hair loss treatments available today were manufactured in order to reduce the rate of hair loss (although some men do experience regrowth, but those cases need to be studied in more detail).
Hair loss is caused, on a bio-chemical level, by the transformation of testosterone into hormone dihydrotestosterone. The presence of this compound contributes to the closing up of the hair follicles, leading to decrease of hair production and eventual stopping of that process. The enzyme that serves as a catalyst for the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone is called 5-Alpha-Reductase and its identification by scientists has been a turning point in hair loss treatment.
Modern hair loss medicines such as Propecia rely on 5-Alpha-Reductase inhibitors such as finasteride as their active ingredients in order to prevent aforementioned conversion of hormones. They achieve this by interfering with the usual activity of 5-Alpha-Reductase enzyme. As a result, the process of thinning is slowed.
Are there any side effects of these treatments?
As is the case with a majority of medicines, hair loss treatments similar to Propecia can cause certain side effects in a small number of users. Due to its interference with the male sex hormone and related compounds, medicines like Propecia have been known to cause a decrease in libido, erectile dysfunction and in some cases, anxiety.
What’s the best hair loss medication?
There is no definitive answer to this question as the best hair loss treatment for you might not work for someone else and vice versa. Your suitability for any given hair loss treatment will strongly depend on the stage of male pattern baldness you have reached, as well as on what exact type of hair loss are you affected by.
Hair Transplant Surgery…Is it for me?
When it comes to hair transplant surgery there are so many questions that come up: How much does hair transplant surgery cost? Does my insurance cover it? What should I do if I’m not satisfied with the results?
How much does it cost?
Well, firstly hair transplant surgery is very costly, especially for the ‘average joe’. The NHS pegs the average cost of hair transplant surgery within the range of 1,000 to 30,000 quid. Some penny for some new hair. A lot of factors are taken into consideration to determine the cost, the severity of your hair loss, the clinic, the quality of the team etc.
In the UK, the Quality Care Commission provides extensive information as to where you can find information on some of the best clinics that provide hair transplant surgeries.3