It is estimated that half of all men will experience some form of hair loss by the age of 50. Hair loss can be caused by many things, including genetics or simply getting older. This article takes a look at the 5 most common types of male hair loss and their reasons.
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1. Pattern Hair Loss
Men are more likely to experience pattern hair loss after puberty. It is caused by hormonal changes that may be due to genetics or other factors. It is thought that male baldness occurs when the body converts the male hormone testosterone into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink over time, resulting in thinning hair.
Pattern hair loss occurs when the hair follicles gradually shrink over time, ceasing to grow new hairs. This type of hair loss typically begins with thinning crowns that resemble a horseshoe-shaped ring around either side of the head or diffuse thinning all over the scalp. This is a progressive condition, so with time, recession of the hairline and bald spots may occur.
2. Medical Illness
Medical illnesses can result in hair loss. Many diseases decrease the number of blood cells, which can affect hair growth. Some types of cancer also affect hair growth, especially chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients.
Organ transplant recipients may experience hair loss as well because many immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent organ rejection can cause hair loss as a side effect.
Symptoms of medical illnesses that lead to hair loss vary depending on the disease or condition, but may include rapidly shedding hair and bald spots.
Treatment for hair loss caused by medical illness typically varies based on the type of disease involved. However, stress management and nutritional supplements are often recommended for people who experience hair loss due to medical illness.
3. Stress-Related Hair Loss
Stress-related hair loss, also known as telogen effluvium, is another common cause of male hair loss. Symptoms include shedding and breakage of the hair on the scalp and in the eyebrows.
The most common cause of stress-related hair loss is hormonal changes, which can be triggered by major events such as pregnancy or surgery. During these times, drastic changes in hormone levels may attack the hair follicles and cause them to enter the resting stage prematurely. As a result, new hairs are not able to grow before they are shed, leading to thin or bald spots on the scalp.
Treatment for stress-related hair loss typically involves relaxation therapies and taking medications such as antidepressants. Hair growth may not return until three months after the stressful event that triggered hair loss in the first place.
4. Autoimmune Hair Loss
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and alopecia areata, affect the hair follicles on the scalp. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect many different body systems, including the skin, kidneys, heart and lungs. Lupus attacks healthy tissue by causing inflammation throughout the body.
As a result, people with lupus may develop symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss, but they can also develop symptoms related to the skin and hair. Some people with lupus experience complete baldness on the scalp or partial loss of hair all over the body.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that usually results in patchy bald spots on the scalp or other areas of the body. Alopecia areata causes hair follicles to become inflamed and stop producing hair, resulting in baldness.
Symptoms of both lupus and alopecia areata usually develop suddenly, with no warning signs or triggers. However, some people experience itching or tingling on the scalp before hair loss, usually within one to two weeks before the loss occurs.
Treatment for autoimmune diseases often begins with topical corticosteroid creams or ointments, which are applied to the scalp in order to reduce inflammation. Steroids may also be injected directly into affected areas on the scalp. Oral corticosteroids and other medications are sometimes necessary to treat autoimmune diseases.
Treatment for autoimmune hair loss may also include injections of corticosteroids, such as triamcinolone, that reduce inflammation on the scalp and improve blood flow to the hair follicles. Hair transplantation is another option used to restore hair growth in some people with autoimmune alopecia.
5. Chronic Tension Hair Loss
Chronic tension-type hair loss, also known as chronic folliculitis or dissecting cellulitis, results from traumatic damage to the scalp and hair follicles that causes inflammation and scarring and affects the production of new hairs.
Symptoms include pinpoint pustules on the scalp typically located where the affected person habitually wears a hat or tight ponytails and braids. As a result, people with this type of hair loss often have bald patches on the scalp above their ears or at the crown of their head.
Scarring from chronic tension-type hair loss may last for years, but as long as new hairs are growing it is possible to camouflage the thinning areas with hair styling techniques.