Alopecia (hair loss) affects approximately 60% of men with around 25% beginning to lose their hair before they reach the age of 30. The most common form of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness. For more information about the causes of male hair loss and how to treat it, you can read below.
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A common initial symptom of male hair loss, they experience an M-shaped configuration of thinning hair, known as male-pattern baldness. Women on the other hand, typically feature thinning on the top of the head, and this most commonly occurs post-menopause. The method in which men lose their hair is commonly seen in the 'horseshoe' shape of the hairline, though, hair loss can also occur where it begins from the crown of the head, or all over simultaneously.
Thinning hair in men usually appears in successive different stages, and is scientifically known as androgenic alopecia (commonly referred to as male pattern baldness). Researched in 1951 by Dr James B. Hamilton, and later revisited by Dr O'Tar Norwood, these stages can be seen below:
Stage I: Normal state
Stage II: The slight receding hairline
Stage III: The stronger receding hairline
stage IV-VI: The increasing clearing at the top of the head
Stage VII: The maximum pronounced baldness
Where there is the odd hair remaining on the top of the head, it will be thin and won't grow back as quickly as it used to – this is sometimes known as "peach fuzz". Eventually, it will stop growing back altogether.
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Alopecia can occur in different ways and can often be classified into different types, each with varying levels of occurrence. Some of these include:
The hereditary male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) is often described as an inherited trait as it forms over 90% of male hair loss cases. Often the hair often begins to thin out already in the mid-twenties, which is often characterised by a receding hairline. This is also the most common case for female hair loss also.
This type of hair loss is also referred to as hormonal-hereditary hair loss as it is caused by genetic hypersensitivity of the hair root cells to androgens, in particular the male hormone testosterone. When the enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone to at a higher than normal level, the DHT then attacks the hair follicles at the root, preventing any further growth of strong hair.
The second most common form is spot or patch baldness (alopecia areata). This is often an autoimmune diseases caused by the body attacking certain areas of the body with hair (usually the scalp) believing there to be a threat. This resulting attack usually causes inflammation in the set area causing the hair to fall out.
The patches may be of different sizes or shapes but are often round or oval. Alopecia areata (AA) can occur over a small period of time or on a longer term basis with a certain side of the scalp being affected compared to the other. Approximately 1-2% of all men are affected by alopecia areata.
It is often difficult to assess the main cause or trigger for this type of hair loss, but it is said to affect mainly young people, those under the age of 40 and those who have just completed chemotherapy. There is a small chance that hair regrowth can occur if the condition is treated, but this is not often.
Traction hair loss (traction alopecia) is mainly prevalent in women and occurs mainly due to hair styling procedures. Excessive pulling, heating, bleaching, dyeing braiding and binding can put too much strain on the scalp and hair follicles. These in effect can cause inflammation of the scalp and result in increased loss of hair in that area. Fortunately this can be remedied through the use of better hair products and adopting safer styling practices.
Male pattern baldness is primarily genetic and/or hormonal. Usually hereditary, it used to be a commonly held belief that it was passed down the maternal line, though more recently this has been brought under question.
Associated with an overabundance of the testosterone-related male hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that attacks hair follicles causing them to shrink, some of the best hair loss treatments operate by targeting this hormone's production – thus reducing its potency.
Often hair loss is just an inevitable part of the aging process, so it's nothing to be concerned about. As you age, your hairline will almost always recede and 2 out of 3 men experience significant hair loss by the time they reach the age of 60. Whilst there are some contributing lifestyle factors, such as diet and stress, androgenic alopecia is largely genetic and an inevitable part of the male aging process.
However, there are some men, approximately 1 in 5, who will experience very little hair loss even into their 80's.
Poor diets can also contribute to hair loss, with the artificial sweetener 'aspartame' said to cause thinning hair as well as high alcohol consumption and foods with a high glycemic index such as fruit juices, white bread and white rice. On the other hand there are certain foods that have been known to support healthy hair growth, and also to slow down or prevent thinning hair.
Walnuts – These contain essential oils, which encourage hair growth. You can substitute walnuts for flaxseeds, salmon, and rapeseed oil – as these all contain the important Omega-3 fatty acid nutrient.
Spinach – Spinach contains high levels of iron, deficiency of which can hasten hair loss. It also contains many important vitamins and minerals, which help to maintain healthy follicles. Other foods high in iron include broccoli and potatoes.
Chicken (or any protein) – Since your hair is almost entirely made up of proteins, it makes sense to keep your protein reserves stocked up, right? Exactly. Even if you're not a meat eater, there's plenty of ways to consume enough protein. These include kale, beans and nuts…which are also suitable for vegans.
Apple Cider Vinegar - A well known remedy for a number of other health conditions. Unlike commercial products, which are harsh and can leave the hair brittle and dry, ACV is known to improve hair health, by adding body and shine to the hair. ACV does this by helping to maintain the pH balance of your hair, while removing buildup and retaining the hair's natural oils. In terms of hair growth, experts agree that apple cider vinegar can treat clogged hair follicles due to bacterial infection that creates flakes on the scalp (which can lead to hair loss). According to an article in Livestrong, rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar and water, can reduce your risk of hair loss caused by bacteria.
High levels of stress are positively correlated with greying and hair loss. However, it depends on the type of stress you're experiencing. Worrying about that important presentation isn't necessarily going to make your hair fall out, however stress that strongly affects your sleep and diet can sometimes lead to hair thinning due to by-products such as fast, excessive weight loss.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can cause baldness. The way the drugs operate means that as well as targeting cancer cells, they also target all rapidly dividing cells – this includes hair follicles.
However, it's important to remember that hair loss caused by chemotherapy is only temporary. Your hair may begin to regrow during treatment, but in most cases it can take up to 12 months for your hair to return to it's previous thickness, texture etc.
Over the centuries, various myths surrounding the causes and effects of male pattern baldness have arisen. Below we take a look at some of them and dispel the falsehoods.
Whether you're in your late teens, early twenties, or even in middle age - losing your hair can have negative effects on your self-esteem and self-confidence. Negative moods, feelings of inadequacy, along with feeling unattractive to the opposite sex aren't uncommon.
If you're under 25 years old, it might feel as though your world is going to end, or that a potential partner will not find you attractive. Rest assured, it's never anywhere near as bad as you think it is. Often, due to the effects premature receding may have on your confidence, it could help to develop certain esteem-building behaviours. These may include taking up a hobby, improving your body via exercise, or making some positive lifestyle changes. It could be the perfect time to pursue a new career goal or even change career paths to do something more congruent with who you are.
As of now, there is no permanent cure for baldness, but there are ways to slow and even reverse the process in some cases.
Out of all the available herbal hair loss treatments available online, the most popular is Saw Palmetto. Made famous by Native Americans, Serenoa palm is also used as an alternative medicine to treat prostate cancer.
Despite its popularity, clinical studies have shown it to be no more effective than a placebo for treating baldness or progressive hair loss.
There are many natural remedies and creams available to buy over-the-counter that claim to help restore your hair. These range from creams to hair loss shampoos. However, of all these apparent hair loss cures, many of them have little clinical data to back up their claims.
Minoxidil lotion (sold as Regaine) is one exception. This is a topical lotion, which, if applied directly to the scalp twice daily, helps you to combat male pattern balding. Some men find that Regaine can be useful for both slowing hair loss and regrowing hair, but needs to be applied straight to the scalp, which can often be inconvenient.
Regrowth will normally take a few months and the results are usually noticed around the crown of the scalp. Regaine is for genetic hair loss only; it is not effective for hair loss due to other causes.
There are three main surgical treatments, which can be used to treat hair loss. A transplant involves taking hair from the back of your head, and moving it to the front of the scalp. Another treatment is scalp reduction, which can reduce a mild bald patch by removing a piece of your scalp and stretching the area where hair is thicker over it. Flap surgery involves stretching healthy scalp over a small area of hair loss.
Besides being expensive and invasive, each of these treatments may need to be repeated at a later date. If you're unsure about whether this kind of treatment is suitable for you, it's always recommended to speak to a medical professional or to call a reputable hair loss clinic.
If you're experiencing hair loss as a result from cancer and chemotherapy, wigs are an excellent choice, and are available on the National Health Service if you meet certain criteria. Even if you don't, there are various support options available to help with the cost of your wig.
If you're in this situation, the NHS has some important information that can offer advice about wigs and hairpieces.
Whilst there are many over-the-counter remedies for assistance in preventing male pattern baldness, the only one to be clinically proven to be effective is Propecia.
Propecia is the first and only proven medication to treat male pattern hair loss on the vertex (top of head) and anterior mid-scalp area (middle front of the head). Propecia uses the active ingredient finasteride to inhibit the activity of DHT, the primary cause of male pattern hair loss. In tests, 99% of men who took Propecia experienced no further hair loss, and over two-thirds of them experienced significant hair regrowth.
Propecia is an easy once a day medication, which causes very few side effects.
Preventing hair loss can be difficult, and will largely depend on your type of hair loss. Male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) is usually caused by hereditary factors, and therefore it's difficult to physically prevent, at least without prescription treatment.
The following lifestyle tips may not be guaranteed to prevent hair loss, but can improve the quality of your hair follicles and hair itself:
Follow a balanced diet - Hair follicles are made up of proteins and because of this, specialists recommend that you fit plenty of protein in to your diet. Beans are also a major source of protein, as are fish, soya, dairy, cheese and nuts.
Avoid certain shampoos - Some hair care products contain chemicals that can be harmful to your hair. For this reason, it's often best to choose organic shampoos that don't contain any chemicals.
Increase the calcium in your diet - Calcium has also been hailed as a valuable vitamin for hair loss, and has also been shown to be beneficial for hair strength, thickness, and overall health.
HealthExpress are among the leading online healthcare providers in the UK, offering branded prescription medicine to help you treat your hair loss. We understand the importance of starting treatment against hair loss as soon as possible and offer a cost effective (compared to hair transplant surgery) and medically proven method to stop hair loss and promote regrowth of healthy hair. The only available prescription treatment approved by the MHRA is Propecia, which is suitable for use for men over the age of 18. Th earlier the treatment is used, the higher the chance of hair regrowth.
It is easy and simple to order this treatment online today, simply take our free online consultation and our partner doctor will assess your details to ensure you are safe to use this male hair loss treatment.
If going bald has affected your confidence, then you may wish to consider getting treatment.
Studies have suggested that prescription medication can increase hair count and, therefore, improve the way you feel about your hair. If you're experiencing male pattern baldness, the first step will be to find a treatment that suits you.
Often, many men are either too busy or embarrassed to see their GP in regards to hair loss, here you can complete our free confidential online consultation which will be reviewed by one of our partner doctors who will then recommend whether you are suitable for the use of Propecia.