Hair loss is very common amongst men, but what isn’t as common is doing something about it. Losing hair is normal – on average, you lose 50-100 hairs a day – but if you’re noticing there's no regrowth in certain areas, it’s patchy, or it worsens over time, it may mean that your hair loss is more permanent.
The good news is that most hair loss can be treated or in some cases, reversed – with clinically-approved treatments such as finasteride and minoxidil. First, though, it’s important to figure out why you’re experiencing hair loss.
Male-pattern hair loss
The most common cause of hair loss in men is male-pattern baldness, also known as male androgenic alopecia (MAA). Male-pattern hair loss affects around 30-50% of men by the age of 50. The up-side to MAA is that it is also the most treatable.
MAA primarily affects the temples, the crown of your head and the mid-front of the scalp. Male-pattern hair loss is generally considered to be caused by genetic factors: contrary to popular belief, hereditary pattern hair loss is determined by genes from both parents, and not just from the mother’s side of the family.
Testosterone gets converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which, in genetically-susceptible men, can bind to receptors in the hair follicles, causing a process called “miniaturization” to take place. What this means is that the hair follicles start to generate thinner, more fragile hairs and male-pattern hair loss develops.
Stress and anxiety
While losing your hair – especially while you are still relatively young – can be stressful in itself, stress is also a common cause of hair loss. Alopecia areata, also known as “spot hair loss” can be caused by the sudden on-set of stress, and usually occurs in small, round patches on the scalp.
Trichotillomania (TTM), also known as “hair-pulling disorder” is a psychological condition closely related to anxiety disorders. Treatment of TTM should be pursued and diagnosed first and foremost with a psychiatrist, as there can be a number of underlying mental health conditions at the root of it. TTM is often described as “addictive” and is characterised by a compulsion to pull hair from the head followed by a sense of relief afterwards.
Medical conditions and treatments
Certain medical conditions can cause you to lose your hair. These include lupus, syphilis and thyroid disorders. Fungal infections of the scalp, known as tinea capitis, can also contribute to hair loss. More temporary hair loss is also a common side effect of certain treatments and medications for illnesses, such as cancer, high blood pressure, depression and arthritis.
The bottom line
While hair loss affects the majority of men during adulthood, most of the time it is treatable with clinically-proven treatments such as finasteride, minoxidil, or a combination of the two. Although there are a number of possible causes, it’s easier than ever to get a diagnosis and do something to overcome hair loss.