Categorized | Causes

Causes of hair loss in men

Hair loss or baldness affects about 40% of men by the age of 35 and 65% by the age of 60. However, the hair may start falling out at any age depending on the cause. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of hair loss in men.

Genetics

geneticsGenetics is the cause of the most common type of hair loss in men which is called Androgenetic Alopecia or AGA. AGA develops in those who have hair follicles genetically more sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen converted from testosterone. This type of alopecia is also known as Male Pattern Baldness, and, being the most common cause of baldness in men (95% of all hair loss cases), it affects about 35 million Americans.

Such hair loss can start in men of any age once they reach puberty. The hair in the temporal area gets thinner and starts falling out and the growth phase of the hair reduces. The number of hairs that enter resting stage (telogen phase) increases and these hairs fall out more easily due to various external factors (combing, washing, etc.). In the case of androgenetic alopecia, the hair shafts are reduced in diameter and length, and these thin hairs become lighter and less visible.

Androgenetic alopecia can be inherited either from a mother or father and starts progressing only when there are enough androgens in the body. However, most men with androgenetic alopecia have normal levels of DHT and testosterone.

Stress

stressChronic stress (chronic fatigue, constant lack of sleep and physical overload) as well as acute stress (emotional – caused by divorce, death of a loved one; physical – surgery or trauma) can lead to intensive hair loss in men. But due to the length of the hair growth cycle, many people may start losing their hair weeks and even several months after the stressful event. Fortunately, such hair loss is mostly reversible and stops once the stressor is removed.

Stress-related types of hair loss include:

  • Telogen Effluvium – stress can make a large number of hair follicles prematurely switch from the growing (anagen) to the resting (telogen) phase of their life cycle at once.
  • Alopecia Areata – it is believed that, in some cases, severe stress can induce this autoimmune condition. In the case of Alopecia Areata, the immune system of the body starts attacking its own hair follicles and that causes severe hair loss.
  • Trichotillomaniathis is a condition where a person compulsively pulls out his own hair in order to cope with stress, depression, anxiety or other unpleasant feelings.

Severe dieting and nutrients deficiency

severe-dietingNot only women but men are also concerned with the problem of excess weight. Obesity causes various diseases associated with metabolic and endocrine system disorders. The saddest thing is that it reduces life expectancy. Therefore, men diet in an effort to get rid of the excess weight, but not every diet is good for the hair. When a man is on a diet, his body receives fewer nutrients than it needs for all its systems and organs to function properly. Together with the loss of adipose tissue, the body loses fat-soluble vitamins as well as minerals that are essential for the hair.

Certain type of hair loss, called Telogen Effluvium, can be associated with the deficiency of protein, iron, zinc and biotin. On the other hand, the excesses of some nutrients (for example, Vitamin A) can also start the hair loss process. Thus, a well-balanced diet will help avoid such unpleasant complication of weight loss.

Medications and poisonings

Medications-and-poisoningsUnfortunately, hair loss is a common companion of cancer patients. The drugs used for the chemotherapy of tumors called cytostatics, among other side effects, cause hair loss. The action of these medicines is aimed at stopping cancer cells division. However, because it is very difficult to stop the division of only one type of cell, the hair follicles that are in the anagen phase (actively producing hair) are also affected by these drugs. As a result, about 90% of the scalp hair can fall out after the beginning of chemotherapy. This type of hair loss is called Anagen Effluvium.

Furthermore, hair loss can be a side effect of many medications, including:

  • Immunosuppressants – drugs that inhibit the development of autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.) or prevent them;
  • Blood thinners – used to prevent blood coagulation in patients with cardiovascular diseases;
  • Vitamin A in high doses;
  • Anabolic steroids – taken to improve athletic performance and build muscle;
  • Antidepressants;
  • Beta-blockers – used by millions of cardiac patients;
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – used to treat inflammation, fever and pain.

But, luckily, hair loss is not a very common side effect of medicines and, if it does occur, it never leads to complete baldness. Usually, once the treatment course is over, the hair starts growing again.

Besides medicines, hair loss may result from the poisoning with arsenic or heavy metals like mercury, thallium, lead.

Endocrine disorders

Hair loss can accompany some endocrine gland disorders (hypopituitarism, diabetes mellitus, hypoparathyroidism, growth hormone deficiency, Cushing syndrome, etc.) and it is particularly common for thyroid dysfunction. Most people with endocrine disorders develop either Anagen Effluvium or Telogen Effluvium.

In the case of thyroid hypofunction (insufficient activity known as hypothyroidism) hair loss occurs in the outer third part of the eyebrows, in the frontal and occipital regions. If a man suffers from hypothyroidism, his hair becomes dry and dull, it gets thinner and starts receding.

Skin disorders

Seborrhea is another very common cause of hair loss. This is known as Seborrheic Alopecia. This condition is characterized by the dysfunction of sebaceous glands which produce too much sebum which leads to oily scalp, dandruff, flaking and itching. If a man suffers from this disease, the pores of his scalp get clogged by the excess sebum and dandruff and the hair follicles cannot function properly leading to hair thinning.

Other scalp infections leading to hair loss include ringworm, folliculitis, piedra, etc. As well, diseases such as lichen planus can cause Scarring Alopecia (scarring of the skin) which results in permanent hair loss in the areas where the scars are formed.

Autoimmune disorders

It is another cause of hair loss in men. In some cases, the immune system perceives the hair follicles as foreign bodies and fights to destroy them. The head, which becomes the battlefield in this fight, becomes covered with bald spots. Such hair loss is known as Alopecia Areata and its nature is not fully understood yet. There is a theory that the predisposition to the autoimmune hair loss can be inherited. Alopecia Areata is often associated with other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

Illness

An evident hair loss can occur in a man after an illness. Severe infections, pneumonia, scarlet fever, high fever, or even flu can trigger hair loss. This occurs mainly because of the toxins circulating in the blood during the illness. As a rule, the hair growth is regained after the recovery.

Bad habits

drinking-smokingThere is no need to say that both heavy drinking and smoking have a negative influence on the whole body and greatly affect health. But there are some studies suggesting that smoking can lead to hair loss for the following reasons:

  • Increases blood pressure which inhibits healthy hair growth;
  • Decreases oxygen in the blood which can contribute to hair loss;
  • Constricts blood flow which results in the hair not receiving enough nutrients to  provide healthy growth;
  • Dries out the hair which cuts off the moisture supply to the scalp;

As for alcohol consumption, this causes increased dehydration because alcohol is a diuretic. The lack of fluid in the body leads to brittle and dry hair. In addition, heavy drinking causes zinc and iron deficiency which can lead to hair loss.

Mechanical, Thermal or Chemical Influence

This hair loss is not as common in men as in women. However, those males who use a lot of hairstyling products, wear cornrows or other tight hairstyles, dye their hair or overuse hairdryers and irons may face a hair loss problem known as Traction Alopecia. It’s a reversible type of hair loss.

Age-related Changes

Even without a genetic predisposition to hair loss, miniaturization of the hair follicles can be observed in many men with age. The life cycle of the hair shortens, the hair becomes thinner, shorter and almost stops growing. It is a normal condition and does not require any treatment.