Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, affecting 6.5 million men in the UK, according to the NHS Choices website. For some men the process can start as early as their 20s and by the age of 60 most men have some degree of hair loss, although in some cases this can just be a part of the ageing process as opposed to a hereditary condition. Male pattern baldness is not a disease or illness and it doesn't affect your health. However, if you have hair loss that doesn't follow this pattern, for example your hair is falling out in clumps and leaving patches, then you should talk to your GP.
Baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp. Hereditary hair loss with age is the most common cause of baldness. Some people prefer to let their hair loss run its course untreated and unhidden. Others may cover it up with hairstyles, makeup, hats or scarves. And still others choose one of the treatments available to prevent further hair loss and to restore growth.
Minoxidil: This medicine is applied to the scalp. It can stop hairs from getting thinner and stimulate hair growth on the top of the scalp. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved minoxidil to treat hair loss. It is the only hair re-growth product approved for men and women. A dermatologist may combine minoxidil with another treatment.
Hair loss vitamins such as Biotin, Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin C, and minerals for hair loss such as Zinc and Iron, provide essential hair nutrients to nourish healthy and longer hair. Eating enough of these key hair growth vitamins can help prevent hair loss in both men and women. Although some causes of hair loss, such as chemotherapy, illness and medication, may only be moderately affected by a good hair loss diet, in many cases men and women can see great results after only 3-4 months eating more vitamins and minerals for hair growth.
A good daily multivitamin containing zinc, vitamin B, folate, iron, and calcium is a reasonable choice, although there is no good evidence that vitamins have any meaningful benefit in alopecia. Newer studies suggest that vitamin D may be somewhat helpful and worth considering. Specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies like iron or vitamin B12 may be diagnosed by blood tests and treated.
Patterned hair loss is a progressive hair loss that occurs in a specific pattern. The pattern in men is different to the pattern in women. Men develop recession at the temples, thinning and eventually a bald spot on the top of the head (vertex scalp), then ultimately total baldness over the entire crown. Hair above the ears and at the back of the head is relatively spared.
As with transplants, the word toupee conjures an outdated and disagreeable image. The 70s-style rugs have mostly been traded in for spiffier "hair replacement systems." But the basic concept -- a foreign object atop your head -- can only evolve so far. Of course, the effectiveness of hairpieces is tough to evaluate. You may spot an awful one now and then, but the ones you do spot are just the awful ones. Who knows how many masterpieces slip undetected under the radar?
Last but not least, greasy hair is also one of the common hair problems that people should be aware of. The hair scalp contains one type of oil known as sebum, which is responsible for keeping the skin lubricated and generated by the sebaceous glands. However, sometimes, these glands work so hard that produce excess oil, resulting in the greasy hair. This type of common hair problems is a real trouble for many people who love the tidiness. To deal with this one, you should try washing your hair with a gentle shampoo in order to control the sebum production.
Just like pregnancy, birth control pills mess with your hormone levels, causing them to fluctuate. In response, you might experience hair loss. “Hormones can interrupt the natural pattern of the hair cycle, causing hairs to shed more quickly than usual or to grow with less vigor,” explains Dominic Burg, PhD, chief scientist for Advangen. Oftentimes the hormone responsible for this is an androgen, such as testosterone, which is why the American Hair Loss Association recommends low-androgen birth control pills for those who are at an increased risk for hair loss.
If you’ve never heard of biotin supplements before, don’t worry. You probably already know biotin as vitamin B7. No matter what you call it, this vital hair component should rapidly become one of your best friends on the road to faster hair growth. Biotin has its little hands in virtually every system related to hair growth, including energy production, red blood cell creation and keratin synthesis.
“Once that hair has stopped shedding, it does regrow, at a rate of about a centimeter a month,” said Dr. Senna, who suffered from the condition after each of her pregnancies. She shares photos of herself with patients, to show she can sympathize. In one, her entire frontal hairline clearly is growing back in. “If I’d used a treatment, I would have thought it was a miracle drug,” she said.
A good hair care regimen and diet can prevent hair loss and promote longer hair in combination with vitamins. In many cases, hair loss is caused by vitamin deficiency called telogen effluvium, which temporarily pushes hairs from the growth phase of the hair growth cycle to the resting phase, causing hair loss. Telogen effluvium is temporary and the treatment is to eat more of the key vitamins that contribute to healthy hair growth. You can prevent hair loss due to vitamin deficiency or other nutritional deficits, such as key minerals and proteins, by having a good hair care regimen and eating a well-balanced diet of hair loss foods.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
DR. WRIGHT: If stomach acid is low, protein isn’t efficiently digested – and hair and nails are made up of… protein! If we are deficient in protein, our bodies know that we can live without hair or nail proteins, but we can’t survive without heart muscle proteins or other important body proteins. So if we are short in supply of protein, the hair or nails are the first to go.
Although many medications list "hair loss" among their potential side effects, most drugs are not likely to induce hair loss. On the other hand, cancer treatment (for example, chemotherapy or radiation therapy) and immunosuppressive medications commonly produce hair loss. Complete hair loss after chemotherapy usually regrows after six to 12 months.
Common types include: male-pattern hair loss, female-pattern hair loss, alopecia areata, and a thinning of hair known as telogen effluvium. The cause of male-pattern hair loss is a combination of genetics and male hormones, the cause of female pattern hair loss is unclear, the cause of alopecia areata is autoimmune, and the cause of telogen effluvium is typically a physically or psychologically stressful event. Telogen effluvium is very common following pregnancy.
Hair changes about as fast as grass grows, which is to say it’s extraordinarily slow and not visible to anyone checking impatiently in the mirror every day. But during regular follow-up appointments, Harklinikken uses high-tech equipment to photograph and magnify the scalp and count new hairs and active follicles, which motivates users to adhere to the regimen. Too many people give up on treatments like Rogaine and low-level-light devices before they’ve had a chance to work, Dr. Senna said.
As long as the new hair that grows from that follicle is the same as the one it replaces, the hair density will remain constant. In patterned hair loss, hormones affect the follicle, making it smaller and the new hair becomes shorter and finer than the one it replaces. Eventually, the new hairs are so short and fine they become invisible and the scalp becomes bald.
Once male-pattern baldness starts, it’s not going to stop until every last hair on your head has shrunk or shed, though the rate at which this happens differs from person to person and depends on genetics. And since the grind of hair loss is unending, it’s important to start treatment as soon as your hairline starts bothering you. If you’re looking for a more quantitative metric, Dr. Paul McAndrews, clinical professor of dermatology at the USC School of Medicine and member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, assures me that “you have to lose half your hair before the human eye can tell.” (Of course, if you don’t care about losing your hair and are fine with going full Prince William and shaving your head, go for it. We’ve got some recommendations for razors and hair trimmers to help you out on that front.)
"Despite some of the claims, a shampoo or conditioner won’t be able to stop or slow hair loss, nor help with a receding hairline or thicken hair that’s becoming thinner," says trichologist Anabel Kingsley from The Philip Kingsley Trichology Clinic in London. "At best, a thickening shampoo will make hair temporarily thicker for a short period of time, but they certainly won’t help with hair loss or thinning."
Certain foods have also been found to aggravate or worsen hair fall, such as sugar, which triggers the overproduction of the male hormone, androgen, which in turn causes the hair follicles to shrink in size and for hair to fall out or stop growing. Fish products that are known to contain high levels of mercury like tuna, mackerel and swordfish can also cause hair weakening and excessive hair fall. Studies have also found that fried foods are associated with the production of high levels of DHT.
Giovanni Mele, a stylist who owns Giovanni and Pileggi in Center City, said many women with thinning hair try to wear their hair long. He thinks they're much better off with short, pixie-like styles with light layering on top. He recommends that lighter-skinned women choose colors that are a little darker than blond or gray. He is a fan of a hair-thickening product made by Nioxin.
Hormonal changes and medical conditions. A variety of conditions can cause permanent or temporary hair loss, including hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems. Medical conditions include alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh), which causes patchy hair loss, scalp infections such as ringworm and a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh).
Taking hair supplements can be helpful for anyone who is experiencing hair loss or hair thinning. Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, previously recommended Nutrafol, a research-backed hair supplement, to Prevention. "This uses highly concentrated botanicals to address every stage of the growth cycle," she says. Nutrafol's hair supplements include vitamin E and ashwagandha (an adaptogen that helps balance cortisol levels in the body), among others.
The third and fourth stages are known as telogen and exogen, respectively. In telogen, the hair is supposed to be at "rest" until it finally detaches itself from the follicle and enters the exogen or shedding stage. Once the hair is detached from the follicle, the follicle remains inactive for about three months, after which a new cycle begins again.
It is estimated that 90% of people with hypothyroidism have the thyroid autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks its own thyroid gland. Despite the prevalence of Hashimoto’s, thyroid antibodies are often NOT tested. You may have Hashimoto’s and not even know it. There are two thyroid antibodies to test for Hashimoto’s: Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).
A bathroom covered with loose strands or an ever-scrawnier ponytail can be startling but doesn't necessarily mean anything's wrong. By age 50, half of women will complain of hair loss. "As we age, overall hair density changes and individual strands become finer," says dermatologist Doris J. Day, MD. But just because thinning is natural doesn't mean you have to accept it. Here are 13 solutions to help you keep the hair out of your brush and on your head.
As I mentioned before, the causes of hair fall are innumerable, and so it becomes crucial to get to the root of the problem. The best way to go about dealing with the problem would be to get the correct diagnosis to begin with. This can be made simpler by finding the areas where thinning is most prominent and also monitoring how much hair you are losing whenever you comb or shampoo. Consult a physician to find out whether you have any underlying medical issues causing the hair fall.
Laser treatments. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is used for the prevention and reversal of hair loss. Also known as red light therapy, cold laser, and soft laser, it is a form of light/heat treatment (therefore generally safer) that is used on cases of pattern baldness and alopecia areata. The procedure uses a device that emits light that penetrates into the scalp. The more commonly used lasers are the excimer, helium-neon and fractional erbium-glass. The procedure can increase the blood flow in the scalp to stimulate the follicles that are in resting or dormant phase to go into anagen, and at the same time, prevent the production of DHT, which destroys the hair follicles.
In-office laser light treatments or at-home handheld devices, such as the HairMax LaserComb, supposedly grow new hair by stimulating blood flow to the area (think: an amped-up version of a scalp-stimulating shampoo). Just don’t expect the device to make your noggin go from looking like George Costanza’s to Jerry Seinfeld’s. “These lasers won’t grow any new hair. If anything, they may just help you hang on to some of the hair that you already have a bit longer,” says Dr. Joyce.
Pattern balding is most common among middle-aged men, but signs can actually begin as early as the mid-20s. Once the hair loss starts, it generally takes about 15-25 years for most men with this condition to lose most of their hair. In some cases though, the progression of the condition can be fast so that others are already completely bald in just five years.
2. Volumizing shampoos and treatments. Typically, these work by depositing ingredients, like wheat protein and keratin, that adhere to the hair shaft to a) thicken it and b) create spaces between hairs so you look like you have more of it. Try Kiehl’s Rice & Wheat Volumizing Shampoo ($18) with hydrolyzed wheat protein; Rogers likes Redken Cerafill Defy Shampoo and Conditioner ($20 each) with ceramides that bulk up hair.
Hair loss induced by cancer chemotherapy has been reported to cause changes in self-concept and body image. Body image does not return to the previous state after regrowth of hair for a majority of patients. In such cases, patients have difficulties expressing their feelings (alexithymia) and may be more prone to avoiding family conflicts. Family therapy can help families to cope with these psychological problems if they arise.
Periods of prolonged or severe illness can affect the hair. “As with extreme stress and extreme diets, this also comes down to the body preserving its energy balance and shutting down non-essential functions in order to battle the illness more effectively,” Berg says. “In fact, physicians have used an inspection of the fingernails and hair quality as part of standard examinations of overall health for many years. Changes in these features provide some clues about the length and severity of illness.” Other diseases, such as diabetes and lupus, can also cause hair loss. Check out these other things your hair can reveal about your health.
What’s got less evidence supporting its efficacy are the hair-growth shampoos that claim to block DHT (like those sold by Hims in their Rx Hair Kit). Rieder is skeptical that you’re going to see any tangible benefits by rubbing DHT blockers into your scalp. “I find it very difficult to believe that something that’s applied to the scalp and rinsed off is going to have any appreciable effect.” All four doctors also shut down any suggestions that hair-growth supplements or vitamins, like biotin, could help promote hair growth or stop hair loss — though a couple hypothesized that vitamins or supplements could lead to hair regrowth if your hair loss was a result of a nutritional deficiency. But otherwise, if you’re dealing with regular old male-pattern baldness, “There is no such thing as a ‘hair vitamin,’” says McMichael.