Everything You Need to Know About Hair Loss in Men
Male Hair Loss, Alopecia, and Male Pattern Baldness
Noticed a few more hairs than usual swirling around your shower drain when you get ready in the morning?
Worried that your hair line is creeping back little by little?
You could be dealing with hair loss or alopecia.
So, what do you do if you want to keep your precious hair on your head where it belongs?
Let’s have a look at what alopecia is, what causes hair loss, and what you can do about it!
What is alopecia?
Alopecia is another name for hair loss, and it’s used to refer to hair loss all over your body, including your scalp.
There are different types of alopecia, like male and female pattern baldness, which are both technically called androgenic alopecia.
Another common form of alopecia is alopecia areata, also known as spot baldness, and it appears as small bald spots over the scalp.
Spot baldness is different to pattern baldness as it’s believed to be caused by an autoimmune disease that affects the hair follicles, where male pattern baldness is thought to be genetic.
This difference in causes is why there isn’t one overall treatment for balding, as you have to treat the cause of your hair loss, rather than the symptom itself.
What is male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness, also known as male pattern hair loss or MPLH, is a type of hair loss that is caused by hereditary factors, which means it runs in your family.
For example, if your dad or granddad on either side of the family developed a bald spot or a receding hair line as they grew older, then you probably will too.
Male pattern hair loss is the most common form of hair loss in the world, and is thought to affect 50% of men, so chances are that you’re not alone if you’re experiencing this yourself.
Male pattern hair loss happens because a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone) changes your hair follicles, making them shrink and keeping them from growing new hair on your scalp.
What symptoms will I notice if I’m losing my hair?
You’re probably wondering why I’m answering this question, I mean surely the symptom of hair loss is, well, hair loss!
But you may experience different types of hair loss, depending on the cause, including the following:
- Thinning of the hair on the top of the head or the scalp
- Receding hair line
- Circular bald spots or patches
- Sudden thinning of hair
- Hair loss all over the body
If your hair is gradually thinning or your hairline is gradually receding, then you probably have male pattern baldness.
However, other types of hair loss could indicate another underlying condition, especially if you’re losing hair all over your body.
Why do I have thinning hair?
There are lots of reasons why men experience hair loss, some which are completely normal, and others that can be a little more worrying.
Some of the most common causes of male hair loss, or hair thinning, include:
- Family history of hair loss
- Illnesses or medical conditions, e.g. diabetes, lupus
- Cancer treatment, e.g. chemotherapy
- Some other medications
- Iron deficiency
- Weight loss
- Certain types of tight hairstyles (traction alopecia) or hair treatments, e.g. tight braids, bleaching or using hot straighteners or curlers on the hair regularly
Can stress cause hair loss?
Stress can cause hair loss in some cases, especially if you’ve been through an extremely stressful event.
This type of hair loss is known as Telogen Effluvium and happens when extreme psychological stress or hormonal changes interfere with the normal growth cycle of your hair.
This is usually temporary, and your hair will get back to normal when the growth cycle has resumed, but this can take time if you have an ongoing issue, such as a chronic illness.
Some of the most common causes of Telogen Effluvium include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Crash diets which result in rapid weight loss
- Chronic illnesses or medical conditions
- Eating disorders
- Going through major surgery
- Severe emotional disorders
- Taking drugs
Is there a cure for male hair loss?
Whether or not you’ll be able to treat your hair loss will depend entirely on the cause of your hair loss.
For example, if your hair loss is caused by stress or trauma, you’ll usually find that your hair grows back on its own when you’re feeling better.
On the other hand, male and female pattern baldness and spot baldness don’t currently have a sure-fire cure and will need to be managed in other ways.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your hair loss, speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using any product that’s supposed to treat hair loss, as it may not be suitable for you.
How can my pharmacist help with hair loss?
If you have hereditary or male pattern hair loss, then your pharmacist may be able to recommend a treatment that can help you to keep your hair looking its best.
Minoxidil works by increasing the blood flow to your hair follicles, which is thought to keep them from shrinking and encourage them to grow new hair.
Minoxidil is available from registered pharmacies like Chemist 4 U, but you might need to answer some questions before you place your order, this helps our pharmacists to be sure that this safe and suitable for you to use.
If you think minoxidil might be something you’d like to try, we’d recommend speaking to your doctor or pharmacist first, so you can weigh up the pros and cons together and make the best decision for you.
You’ll have to pay for minoxidil yourself, as it’s unavailable on the NHS.
This is because hair thinning and hair loss is seen as a normal part of getting older, and doesn’t necessarily need treatment.
Are there any home remedies to stop hair loss?
There aren’t any home remedies that are guaranteed to stop or reverse hair loss, but there are a few things you can do to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your hair.
For example, you should avoid wearing hairstyles which pull your hair tight, like braids, ponytails or buns.
You should also avoid brushing or styling your hair more than necessary, and stop using straighteners, curling irons, or similar styling tools until your hair is stronger.
Other things which may help include keeping your hair out of the sun, and giving up smoking, which is good advice in general but especially important when you’re trying to care for your hair.
When should I speak to my doctor?
Although male pattern baldness is just a normal part of growing older, there are some times when your hair loss could indicate something more serious, and you should go to see your doctor.
We’d recommend making an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Sudden, unexplained hair loss
- Bald patches developing on your scalp
- Your hair coming out in clumps
- Itching and burning sensations on your scalp
- Any other symptoms which make you feel worried
Now we know a bit more about what’s going on in your head, or rather, on top of it, you can make the best decisions for you and your luscious locks!
Still unsure? Why not give one of our friendly pharmacists a call? They’ll be able to answer any questions you might have so you can feel more confident in your treatment.