Hair Loss can occur on the whole body and can affect both males and females. It’s a condition which has affected man since time immemorial and has led to improvised solutions just as far back. The medical community still struggles with viable and permanent solutions, although the current cures involve Finasteride and Minoxidil as well as Hair Transplant surgery. There are many reasons for hair loss in both men and women but for this article we will focus on Hair Loss for men, as they are who make up are patients.
There are many reasons for hair loss, and I’m sure there are a few that we still haven’t discovered. It’s a serious condition and in some cases represents the overall health of the patient. If there is a sudden loss of hair which is not consistent with typical male pattern baldness, then see your doctor immediately as this could signify a medical condition or health issue.
What are the Top Reasons for Hair Loss in Men?
Male Pattern Baldness
Known in the medical community as Androgenetic Alopecia, male pattern baldness is the most common reason for hair loss in men. Higher levels of testosterone and male sex hormones are the cause of male pattern baldness, and is hereditary in nature. It’s a very complex condition, so for the sake of brevity I will refrain from offering the medical textbook version.
It usually starts around the temples or the crown of the head while slowly or quickly encompassing more area. For those who are losing or have lost their hair, male pattern baldness accounts for 95% of these cases. A very large number which creates a very large market for those suffering from this condition. By the age of 50 approximately 85% of men suffer from thinning hair, which means, try as you might to outrun the hair loss demon, he will eventually get you.
This condition is not related to other health issues such as prostate cancer and is isolated from any health issues which may occur. There are some who believe that those who suffer from early male pattern baldness are more virile then other men, although its another hair loss fallacy such as inheriting it from your mother’s father.
With 95% of hair loss occurring from male pattern baldness, we are all aware of how it looks and how it progresses. We have friends and family members who have lost their hair and understand how it afflicts the person. Of course, when it happens to you, it is much more dramatic and depressing. Because its such a large percentage of hair loss in men, there are constant studies and treatments being researched and discovered.
As the biggest reason for hair loss by far, cures for male pattern baldness get the most attention and funding. Either we are suffering from this condition ourselves or someone close to us has been targeted. There are many claimed treatments and cure-alls for male pattern baldness, although we will focus on the two most popular and proven
Medications such as Finasteride and Minoxidil have been around for a few decades and in all the tests, research and results, its has proven itself time and time again to slow and/or stop hair loss, as well as regrow hair. There are of course some proven side effects and it does not work for all men, but in terms of a medical solution or magic pill for hair loss, these two are the best.
The second and more invasive cure is a hair transplant. These have been around for over 50 years and have continued to improve over time. As my favorite comedian Bill Burr says about the older hair transplants, hair was implanted with a common stapler and the hairs looked like ant legs. This is fortunately no longer the case and hair transplants are the most natural and effective way to treat male pattern baldness.
Prescribed medications for a range of health issues can cause hair loss, although I will focus specifically on Chemotherapy which is the most common and obvious. Sometimes the treatment of cancer can be worse than the disease itself. Radiation, surgery and chemotherapy can wreak havoc on a person’s body with the hope that it will “cure” the cancer or at least stop the spread. Chemotherapy is a double-edged sword in that it kills the cancerous cells along with healthy cells.
One of the side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. Its one of the least damaging effects, although it can decimate one’s self-esteem. You might think that it would be no big deal for a patient who is just trying to stay alive, but it is an indication of one’s overall health and a constant reminder every time they look in the mirror that they are ill.
The amount of hair lose is influenced by the length of chemo treatment, the dosage as well as the specific drug(s) used in the treatment. The hair loss can be partial or total loss of hair on the entire body. For women it can be especially traumatic as hair loss in women vs. men is so much more dramatic. So, to be bald be bald as a woman is a serious issue.
With the strength of the chemo treatment, you would think that the hair loss would be permanent, but fortunately in most cases it is not. Recovery from cancer through chemo is a tough road, but the good news is that your hair will grow back. In some cases, women will wear a wig which will improve their self-confidence and help them get through the chemo treatment. But other than temporary solutions, hair loss from chemo must run its course and will grow back.
In many cases the hair will grow back but in a different style and texture. Hair that was once straight could grow back with some waves or even curls. Needless to say, the patient will be more than happy to have their hair back and more importantly they will be in remission or cancer free.
Also know as “spot baldness”, Alopecia areata is a condition which effects all parts of the body or just some parts. Its not a disease associated with a specific illness, although it is believed to be an autoimmune disease. The spot baldness name comes from the type of hair loss which effects certain people. In most cases a random spot or spots will be devoid of hair about the size of a silver dollar, with the rest of the head having a natural look. In many cases with Alopecia areata the regrowth of hair will happen as quickly as the loss.
The 2 extreme cases Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis are when the hair is lost on the whole scalp and/or the entire body This is a hereditary disease and, in most cases, occurs in a matter of days and weeks. Stress is not known to be a cause, although when the process begins, it will no doubt increase the stress level in one’s life. If you are past the age of 30 the chances of this condition are highly unlikely.
As far as a cure for the 3 types of Alopecia, there isn’t anything medically proven to slow or stop this condition. As mentioned, those with Alopecia areata could find themselves with hair growth and the condition a temporary nuisance. Those with the Totalis and Universalis will have a more difficult if not futile search for a cure.
In some cases, doctors will prescribe Corticosteroids to suppress the immune system through its anti-inflammatory properties. A topical solution, tablet or injection would be the three delivery methods of this drug, which can only be prescribed by a doctor. In some cases, the tried and true Finasteride and Minoxidil can be used for those balding spots, although these drugs will not prevent further bald spots.
Hair loss due to Alopecia is the most serious of all the conditions and is the one currently without a cure. As a sudden and complete loss, it can cause serious mental and emotional issues in the patient. The good news is that it’s not caused by a serious medical condition, and short of losing your hair, the body is healthy.
Emotional and Physical Shock/Trauma (Telogen Effluvium)
We usually do not think of shock being the cause of hair loss, but unfortunately in many extreme cases of shock, the experience can cause one to lose their hair. The condition is known as Telogen Effluvium which has many causes and is usually associated with trauma or shock to the body, although the reasons are varied and sometimes peculiar.
Most of us lose on average 100 strands of hair daily although in some cases it can be more. Hair is always falling out and being regrown in its natural cycle. In many cases of Telogen Effluvium the person will lose on average up to 300 hairs daily. This is enough to create a noticeable change in the thickness of your hair and convince the individual that they are going bald. Anything from Pregnancy in women to a change in diet can cause Telogen Effluvium.
It is a change in the bodies physiology through something physical or emotional. For example, with a change in diet, especially extreme weight loss regiments, the body goes through an extreme re versal which it has never experienced. The type of nutrition and food its receiving has done a complete 180. This has powerful effects on the body and can cause dramatic changes, such as hair loss. This can continue with an overall poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle.
A few of the major reasons for Telogen Effluvium are; physical and psychological trauma from major surgery, high fever resulting from a serious infection, certain medications, lack of vitamins and nutrients (malnutrition), severe grief, and some other issues. It can affect individuals of all ages and can prey on the most vulnerable such as malnourished children.
There is no way to prevent this condition in the traditional sense. Medications, surgery, trauma etc., in most cases are not preventable. If you’re sick you must have surgery and unfortunately severe grief is something which is something which we have no control. Poor diet can be controlled, although it’s usually is not a choice especially for children.
The good or great news is that this condition is temporary. Telogen Effluvium will begin roughly 2-4 months after the event and will last on average up to 6 months. There is no medication that is taken for the condition and you will have to let it run its natural course. Somewhat similar to hair loss from chemotherapy, its just a matter of time before your hair grows back to its natural look.
Is this a complete list for Hair Loss and its Causes?
No this is not a complete list, although it covers 99% of the causes and covers what are the known reasons. Women do have other issues such as pregnancy and menopause, but for the men in general the touches on, although sparingly, on what effects hair loss and regrowth.
In all cases, it is incumbent upon the individual to see a doctor when hair loss starts to occur. Too many times we try to self-diagnose and self- medicate, which sometimes makes the condition worse. The human body is the most complicated “machine” in the world, so it would be wise to get off the Internet and see a medical professional.