Everything you need to know about hair loss, from how it occurs to how to treat it.
In 30 seconds…
Hair loss is completely natural, and most men will experience some form of it in their lifetime. The most common cause of hair loss is called ‘Male Pattern Baldness’ and is genetic. If the men in your family go bald, you probably will, too.
As we start to get older, there are a number of different changes that our bodies go through. For men in particular, male pattern baldness is one of these changes that can affect our sense of self confidence and might be something that you are hoping to avoid or get rid of.
We just want to start off by saying that going bald is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. It occurs in “more than 50 percent of all men over the age of 50” to some extent, according to Healthline, so it is more common than you would perhaps think.
However, it can still be unnerving to notice that the full head of hair you have grown up with is starting to thin out in patches or that your hairline has already started to recede backward.
To help you rid yourself of any lingering fears or uncertainties surrounding the topic of male pattern baldness, we have put together this guide which covers everything you need to know about this condition, from why it happens and how you can treat it if you notice it happening.
Why Do Men Go Bald
Male pattern baldness is often assumed to be a condition that only the old are vulnerable to, but in actual fact, 25 percent of bald men start to notice the first signs of hair loss before 21.
This is because rather than developing male pattern baldness over time, you inherit the genes that predispose you to balding and hair loss. Whether or not you develop androgenetic alopecia is dependent on endocrine factors and your genetic heritage.
As a side note, research that was conducted by the American Hair Loss Association has shown that 95 percent of hair loss in men is due to this condition, androgenetic alopecia.
So yes, unfortunately, if you spot your dad or a distant uncle starting to go bald, there is a good chance that the same thing could be in store for you later on in life. Sooo it is probably a good idea to avoid making fun of them too much early on, or karma might catch up to you!
This genetic disposition leaves you sensitive to a byproduct of testosterone which is known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), but how does this lead to hair loss as a hormonal side effect?
It is because DHT can affect sensitive hair follicles and cause them to shrink over a period of time. Each time this happens, it shortens the lifespan of each hair until the hair follicle eventually stops producing hair altogether. So, is there any cure for it or a way to reverse it?
Is There a Cure for Male Pattern Baldness?
If you are someone who has been affected by male pattern baldness, especially if it sets in at an early age, you may be wondering whether or not there is a cure for this condition?
With that being said, more research is being conducted into the effects of certain treatments and how they are able to slow down this process of male pattern balding. These studies have shown that there is some evidence to support the effectiveness of these treatments.
This will vary of course, depending on the unique individual’s genetic makeup which means that the results of any type of hair loss treatment will often vary from person to person.
As we promised in the introduction, we will discuss some of the best natural remedies and other treatments that we have found for male pattern baldness a little later on in this article.
At What Age Can Men Start to Go Bald?
As we have already mentioned, signs of male pattern baldness can start to set in before you have even reached your 21st birthday, if you are particularly unlucky. At the point of reaching puberty, your body will start to produce androgens which are essentially your sex hormones.
According to the Healthline, here are some common male pattern baldness statistics:
- Around 25 percent of men that have hereditary male pattern baldness will begin to lose their hair before the age of 21.
- Before reaching the age of 35, approximately 66 percent of men will have experienced at least some degree of hair loss symptoms.
- Before reaching the age of 50, approximately 85 percent of men will have noticeably thinner hair.
For those who are already predisposed to male pattern baldness due to genetics, these hormones will behave differently as they can interact with your genes which affects the size of your hair follicles. As they miniaturize, your hair will fall out and your hairline will recede.
These normal hairs are then replaced by smaller, practically invisible, non-pigmented hairs that create a sort of fuzz that you are left with all over your scalp. Eventually, even these will fall out as the process continues to occur until you are completely bald and hairless.
This can be quite confusing for younger males who may not have been expecting to start losing their hair this early on in life and could cause confidence or body image issues. You should not allow it to take over your life, however, as there are ways to conquer hair loss.
Ways to Treat Hair Loss
So, let’s talk about some of the best ways to treat hair loss. We should probably add a disclaimer here to say that whilst all of the remedies we have included have been backed up by scientific evidence, the effectiveness of these treatments will depend on the individual.
This is because the ways in which male pattern baldness affects you is down to your genetic makeup and how predisposed you are to hair loss. Let’s get into the treatments, then!
Look, if you haven’t yet taken the plunge and cut out your smoking habit, then you should.
And this is not just because it can help to treat the effects of hair loss or male pattern baldness, but because it is bad for your health in a number of other ways as well. Cancer, yellowing teeth and fingernails, the exacerbation of hair loss… just quit already, will you?
There have even been multiple studies that show how there is a clear link between sparking up a cigarette and the speed at which male pattern baldness can progress at. So, if you still need one more good reason to put down the cigarettes and quit smoking for good, here it is.
This is because smoking tobacco carries the risk of causing potential damage to your hair follicles which not only gives you a worse chance of combatting the effects of male pattern baldness, but can increase your risk of developing hair loss even with healthy hair follicles.
The results of one study from 2020 on the ‘Implications of Cigarette Smoking on Early-Onset Androgenetic Alopecia: A Cross-Sectional Study’ are particularly informative, with its findings suggesting that at least 425 out of 500 smokers experienced hair loss in some way, whereas a much smaller group of 200 people out of 500 non smokers did show signs of hair loss.
What was most interesting to learn was that the researchers for this study all concluded that nicotine and the chemicals that are associated with it could accelerate hair loss, although a significant amount of research would need to be done to fully confirm these findings.
Try Not to Stress Too Much
Okay, so this one is easier said than done, but there has been a lot of research to suggest that stress can actually be one of the leading causes of hair loss, especially in males.
This could be because you are going through a bit of a rough patch, such as having troubles at work or if your home life is becoming increasingly stressful. Whatever the cause, several studies have shown that stress causes hair loss, so it is important to try and avoid it.
Of course, it is not always easy to just ignore the stressful things that may be going on in our life – we cannot always control them – but there are ways that you can manage your stress.
The CDC has produced a list of ways to cope with stress that you can access, and it includes some of the following methods for managing your stress levels:
- Take a break from social media, and if you need to, even from reading, watching, or listening to the news. Although information is good, it can be overwhelming at times.
- Take care of yourself, and not just in a “self-care” kind of way (although there is merit for this as well), but by eating healthily, exercising, and trying to get plenty of sleep.
- Try meditation or simply take time for your inner self by practicing deep breathing or stretching. Yoga can be a great way to incorporate this time into your daily life.
- Allow yourself to unwind by doing activities that you find joy in.
- Connect with your friends and family or even new people.
- Take a step back from alcohol and drugs, as these can create problems in your life.
If there is something in particular that is worrying you or causing you an unmanageable amount of stress and you think that it might be contributing to your hair loss, it is worth speaking to your doctor about how you are feeling as they might be able to help you.
Look at Consuming more Iron Rich Foods
Iron is an important nutrient that your body needs in order to create and maintain a healthy flow of blood. Unfortunately for some people, their bodies struggle to or are not quite able to produce enough of this nutrient on their own and may need a little bit of extra help.
How will this help with hair loss and early onset male pattern baldness? Well, low levels of iron in the body has been linked to hair loss, although we still do not fully understand why.
Whatever the reason, it has been suggested that consuming foods that are rich in iron may be able to help prevent hair loss, or at the very least, it can play a part in slowing it down.
So, next time you are at the supermarket you might want to make sure that your shopping list includes a few of the following foods and ingredients, all of which are rich in iron:
- Red meat
There is also the option to start taking iron supplements which can help boost the natural iron levels in your body, although it is best to check in with your doctor first before you start taking any pills. Consuming too many or taking iron tablets when you do not need to can cause other health issues, such as constipation, vomiting, or even death, in extreme cases.
Increase the Consumption of Biotin (Vitamin B7) Rich Foods
In addition to iron, biotin (also known as vitamin B7) can also be useful if you are attempting to treat early onset hair loss with a more natural type of remedy. Like iron, the best way to increase your natural biotin levels is to eat foods that contain higher amounts of vitamin B7.
There is pretty much no downside to this, as biotin can also be incredibly good for your skin. At least if you do go bald, you will have a soft-skinned, healthy, hairless head to show off.
You will naturally consume biotin through a lot of common foods that you probably already include in your diet, but to increase the amount your body is getting, you should pay attention to the following foods which contain particularly high quantities of vitamin B7:
- Egg yolks
- Legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Sweet potatoes
It is harder to be deficient in biotin because it is so common in the foods that most people will eat as part of their regular diet, but you should be making sure that you hit your Daily Value (DV) which is usually around 30 mcg per day. If you are not, start shopping for the above!
Get Some Zinc
Another nutrient that your body needs is zinc, and this is also something that can help with the prevention or the slowing down of hair loss. This is because, according to WebMD, zinc “also strengthens the follicles under your scalp that nourish your hair” and keep it healthy.
Because there is no way for your body to store zinc, you will need to make sure that you are consciously making an effort to incorporate this into your diet through eating certain foods.
Good sources of zinc include the following foods:
- Nuts and seeds
- Certain kinds of seafood (such as lobster and crab)
- Whole grains
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Diary products
Like with iron, you could also consider taking vitamins or supplements that contain zinc, but you should always refer to your doctor’s advice before starting any of these treatments.
Consider Silicon Supplement
Some people think of silicon as being something you inject into your body for cosmetic procedures, but it can also be taken as a supplement to try and help to treat hair loss.
This is because there has been some research to suggest that consuming high quantities of the silicon element can slow down the effects of male pattern baldness and make the hair you do have left look much brighter and healthier! However, there is no guarantee that they are one hundred percent safe so it is always best to consult your doctor before taking any.
Rather than preventing hair loss entirely, silicon supplements can strengthen hair.
If you are happy to start taking silicon supplements and you have had it cleared by a doctor, you can usually find a number of different types at your local store. There is also something called orthosilicic acid (OSA) which is a manmade version that arguably absorbs better.
Consider Scalp Creams
Okay, so full disclosure, there are a lot of scalp creams and treatments available on the current market that claim to do a lot for the male pattern baldness, but the number of creams and treatments that actually help at all is much, much, smaller.
In fact, there are only two official FDA approved treatments that are currently available to the public, which we will go into in more detail in the section below. These are Minoxidil and Finasterides. Other creams can be soothing but they may not necessarily help at all.
This is why it is so important to check out the ingredients list for any creams, balms, or baldness treatments that are available to buy over the counter. This will also help you to avoid anything that may give you an allergic reaction, which can further damage follicles.
Current Treatments Available for Baldness
This section will look at some of the other current treatments that are available for male pattern baldness, including pharmaceutical, surgical, and some cosmetic treatment options.
Remember that, although these treatments have been proven to have some effectiveness in treating male pattern baldness and the symptoms of hair loss, they will not always be one hundred percent effective and the results will vary from person to person due to genetics.
With that said, there has been a good amount of data that suggests these treatments do work for the vast majority of men, with Finasteride being effective in 9/10 men. So, don’t get your hopes too high, but these treatments have a good chance of being able to help you!
Minoxidil is one of the two only drugs that the FDA has officially approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness. It is a vasodilator and it is commonly used as a method of treatment for high blood pressure, but it is now also used as a way to treat hair loss.
When used to treat hair loss, Minoxidil widens the blood vessels which allows more blood to flow to the hair follicles. This is because it works as a stimulant on the growth phase (anagen phase) of the hair cycle. As a treatment, it is applied directly to the person’s scalp. However, the drawback to Minoxidil is that once you stop using the treatment, hair loss may resume.
According to WebMD, Minoxidil is “available as Rogaine or Theroxidil, or in generic form. It is sold as a liquid or foam and in two strengths: 2 percent and 5 percent”. Only 2% is licensed for use in women, 5% is available for men, and at Manual we have 10% (super strengths).
The second of two FDA approved drugs that can be prescribed and taken for the purpose of treating hair loss are oral finasteride (FNS). These are synthetic compounds and they are able to block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
As a result, they are often used as a treatment to slow down the effects of male pattern baldness as well as general alopecia, which is another condition that can cause hair loss.
Even though opting for oral finasteride can be an effective way to treat hair loss, there are a few side effects that effect less than 1.5% of users that you may be at risk of experiencing, including:
- Weight gain
- Itchy skin
- Back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Decrease in semen
- Testicular pain
It is therefore important to discuss any plans to try this type of treatment with your doctor.
Although it might seem like a major step, you might be surprised to learn just how many men have undergone surgery for a hair transplant in recent years.
Hair transplants can be a great way to recover some of the hair you might have already lost as it is a surgery that removes healthy hair follicles from another part of your body, known as the donor site, and transplants them in the areas where you have started to lose hair.
You are given local anesthetic so you will not feel anything during the surgical procedure, but there is a chance that you will need to undergo this process several times before it will take full effect. This is because hair loss will still occur a number of times before the skin starts to grow more hair on a permanent basis. It also means that there is a lengthy recovery time.
A lot of people assume that a hair transplant is an easy choice when it comes to treating male pattern baldness or hair loss, but there are actually a few other avenues that you will be required to go down before you would even be eligible for hair transplant surgery. It is also an expensive surgery despite the results, so it is not always an option for everyone.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
A slightly more serious sounding treatment for male pattern baldness is platelet-rich plasma. This is a three step treatment that is carried out by your doctor, who will inject the PRP into your scalp after extracting it from your own blood and processing it. Sounds weird, right?
As PRP is growth triggering, it is believed that it may also work for hair, although there has not yet been enough research into the subject of evidence to suggest that it is effective.
There are some people in the medical community, however, who believe that “PRP injections can trigger natural hair growth and maintain it by increasing the blood supply to the hair follicle and increasing the thickness of the hair shaft”, according to Healthline.com.
The only downside to PRP is that there is a small risk that you may experience any of the following side effects:
- Injury to blood vessels of nerves
- Calcification at the location of the injection
- Scar tissue
There is also the anesthetic to consider as you may experience a negative reaction, so we would advise discussing any allergies or previous reactions you have had to your doctor.
Another natural way to combat the effects of male pattern baldness is through aromatherapy.
You might be wondering, how the hell can some nice smelling scents be used to treat hair loss? Well, the answer might surprise you, as aromatherapy has been used for this purpose for… oh, only over one hundred years. This includes sandalwood, lavender, and thyme oils.
Just to explain it a little further so you understand how this works, simply smelling the aromatherapy oils will probably not do too much. There is actually a compound that is believed to boost the natural occurrence of hair growth from being applied to your scalp.
We would recommend applying natural oils such as the ones we have mentioned above to your scalp by rubbing them into the skin with your fingers for at least two minutes each night. Think of it like giving yourself a little head massage before bed! Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
After oiling yourself up, wrap your head up with a towel. It is best to have warmed the towel first as this will help the oils absorb into your skin. Then you can drift off to sleep all relaxed! So, even if this is not one hundred percent effective as a treatment, what have you got to lose? At least it will feel good and you will get a good night of rest as you sleep peacefully.
Consider Wearing Wigs and Hats
Although this one is not a treatment for male pattern baldness as such, it can be extremely useful in helping to improve your confidence while you are still adjusting to your new look.
As there is often little to be done if you would not consider a hair transplant after the hair follicles have shrunk to the point where they are no longer producing new hair growth, wearing wigs or hats to hide the hair loss is your best option if you do not want to rock the bald look. Wigs, especially, can be great for giving the look of having a head of full hair.
Hair pieces have also come a long way since what they once were. Although it still requires a bit of time and effort into researching where to find the right one, there is now a much wider range available and it caters to the majority of preferences and different budgets.
Bear in mind that hair pieces will also require a fair bit of maintenance which will come at additional cost to you. This can be anything from $60 to $300 each month, so think about what you can afford to spend on hair. For a natural look, try to match your wig or hair piece to your hair color with a similar level of thickness and curliness so that it matches your own.
Hats are a much cheaper option and you can build up a collection so that you have hats to go with every outfit for every occasion. With that being said, there are some pretty expensive hats out there, too! It all depends on your budget and what look works best for you.
We hope that by the time you are reaching the end of this article, you are one step closer to coming to terms with the fact that you may have male pattern baldness. Try to remember that all is not lost – especially not your hair – if you take the steps to slow down this process.
It is easier to try and keep the hair you do have and to encourage growth at the follicle base than it is to replace your hair once it has gone and the follicles have stopped producing new.
Although we have suggested a number of different treatments, both natural and more medical in nature, the effectiveness of any of them will depend on how far along in the hair loss process you are and your unique, individual genetics. It might be worth trying a few to see if a specific one of a combination of treatments works for you. Good luck with it!
Try to make sure you check the ingredients as although a lot of things may market themselves as being “hair loss prevention” miracle workers, the majority of these types of treatments are often shams. For the best advice, speak to your doctor or a dermatologist. Click here for a list of the top 25 hair transplant surgeons or research clinicians near you.
Hair loss can start as early as your teens, or not affect you until much later in life. Statistically, 25% of bald men started to notice their first signs of hair loss before 21. Around 85% of 50 year olds experience some form of hair loss.
There are three main factors which speed up the hair loss process: diet, smoking, and stress. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, quitting smoking, and ensuring that you reduce your stress levels wherever possible is the best way to tackle the symptoms of hair loss.
No, there is no cure for baldness, but there are ways to treat it. Balding is a natural part of growing older, and is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
There are three main treatments for baldness and hair loss: Finasteride, Minoxidil, and hair transplant surgery. A combination of all three is the most effective way to treat hair loss and balding.