Hair loss, or alopecia, is a common occurrence caused mainly by a hereditary condition that happens with aging. It primarily affects men, though there are cases of women suffering from hair loss too.
When caught early, there are chances you may regrow some of your hair with certain treatments. This article will teach you everything you need to know about male hair loss, including its causes, treatments, and more.
First of all, we all lose between 50 and 80 hairs a day, and each hair follicle produces new shafts to replace them. The problem is when hair regrowth slows down or follicles stop growing new hair shafts.
Male hair loss occurs when there is an excess of androgenetic hormones. Most of this disease’s causes are genetic, known as androgenetic alopecia, and can manifest from a very early age .
Other causes of male hair loss include:
- Aging: Hair growth generally slows down when getting old, causing hair loss to happen faster than hair regrowth.
- Alopecia areata: A disease that occurs when your immune system attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss anywhere on your body.
- Cancer treatment: Hair loss can happen within weeks when receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
- Illness and other stressors: You may notice hair loss when recovering from an illness or days after experiencing a stressful situation.
- Inadequate hair care: If you color or perm your hair, you may damage hair follicles over time. Many damaged follicles cause permanent bald spots.
Depending on the cause, hair loss can appear in many ways, either suddenly or progressively . Also, it can affect a part of the scalp or the whole body.
Signs and symptoms of hair loss include:
- Gradual loss at the top of the head: It is the most common symptom and can affect both men and women as they age. In men, the hair often begins to recede at the hairline on the forehead.
- Circular or irregular bald spots: Hair can be lost in circular areas of the scalp. Some people even experience itchy or painful skin.
- Hair loss throughout the body: As mentioned above, treatments such as chemotherapy can cause hair loss throughout the body.
- Sudden hair loosening: Emotional shocks or stress can loosen the hair when combing or washing. However, this symptom is usually temporary.
- Areas of desquamation extending to the entire scalp: People who dye their hair a lot can not only lose it, but suffer from redness, swelling, or even oozing.
When you begin to notice the first symptoms of hair loss, it is essential to consult a physician as soon as possible since it is easier to slow down the loss than to make it grow back.
Whether you are afflicted by alopecia or not, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with your doctor, as it could also be a symptom of a pre-existing condition.
Your doctor may perform the following tests:
- Blood test: Used to detect if there is any medical condition that may be causing hair loss.
- Scalp biopsy: The doctor will take samples of some hairs plucked from the scalp to examine their roots under a microscope. This method helps determine if an infection is causing hair loss.
- Pull test: The doctor will gently pull on your hair to see how many are coming out and determine the stage of the shedding process.
- Optical microscopy: This method helps to discover possible hair shaft disorders.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent androgenetic alopecia. However, there are ways to slow down hair loss, depending on the cause of it.
Tips to help you avoid certain types of hair loss:
- Lower your stress: Stress can make hair loss worse in some cases .
- Take care of your hair: Comb it carefully, especially if it’s wet; use a detangler and avoid strong pulling.
- Check medications or supplements: Some medicines or supplements cause hair loss as a side effect. Consult your doctor if you think this could be the reason.
- Avoid sunlight: Ultraviolet rays can enhance hair loss.
- Stop smoking: Some studies show a slight link between smoking and male-pattern baldness.
- Use cold caps: Cold caps can help reduce hair loss during chemotherapy .
Fortunately, there are increasing amounts of hair loss treatments, both to slow it down and reverse it. Although you can help treat it naturally —avoid stress and eat a balanced diet— medications and surgeries are more effective.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that can come in liquid, foam, or shampoo. It can both decrease the rate of hair loss and promote hair growth. However, keep in mind that it is not an instant solution — it can take months or even years to see its effects.
Unfortunately, minoxidil has some side effects, such as scalp irritation and hair growth on the adjacent skin of the face and hands. To avoid them, we recommend not using the products more than twice a day and cleaning your hands well after applying them.
Finasteride comes in pill form and is for daily use. It can be used both for hair growth and to reduce hair loss. Like minoxidil, this medication can take several months to show effects, so be patient.
Although they are uncommon, finasteride also has side effects, including decreased sexual desire and function and an increased risk of prostate cancer .
Hair transplantation involves extracting hair from a part of the head with hair and transplanting it to a bald area.
Although this surgery does not require hospitalization, it is painful, to the point that you might need a sedative to alleviate the discomfort. You may suffer from swelling, bruising, infection, and bleeding.
After surgery, the doctor might prescribe finasteride and minoxidil to prevent further progression of hair loss.
Laser treatment improves the microcirculation of the scalp. Consequently, the hair follicles receive more blood, oxygen, and nutrients, which are essential in reactivating and lengthening hair growth.
In addition, it eliminates any toxins within the follicle, further promoting hair growth. Unlike blind transplantation, laser treatment is usually harmless and painless and requires only two or three 30-minute sessions per week.
Alopecia affects many people worldwide, mainly men. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this condition. However, there are several ways to treat it, both with medications and treatments.
Remember that you can help slow it down by simply having a healthy lifestyle and reducing stress. Nevertheless, we recommend you consult your doctor as soon as possible, as it is easier to slow down hair loss than to restore hair.
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