Hair loss affects over 60% of men before the age of 30. Some men begin to experience hair loss, commonly a result of male pattern baldness, in their late teens or early twenties. If you have recently looked in the mirror to discover you have thinning, balding patches of hair or a receding hairline, you may be suffering from male pattern baldness or another condition that’s causing your hair loss. Hair loss is not entirely understood by researchers, though, so slowing balding and regenerating hair growth can sometimes be a guessing game. There are options, though, for young men who experience mild to severe hair loss. You should start by trying to understand the cause of your baldness to help you decide which treatment (or lifestyle changes) may work for you.
Hair grows all over the human body, with the exception of the soles of your hands and feet. The hair itself is made of dead protein cells, called keratin, which is produced by the hair follicles in the skin. As more keratin cells are produced, the old ones are pushed out of the skin, where they form a long strand of hair.
Hair follicles function in phases. The growth phase, called the anagen phase, is when your follicles are producing new keratin cells. After the anagen phase, a short transition phase, called the catagen phase, takes place. In this phase, the new cell becomes attached to the existing hair shaft. Then, in the last phase, called the telogen phase, the follicle rests. If a follicle prematurely enters the telogen phase (without entering or completing the catagen phase), the hair will fall out. It is normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day. However, losing more or noticing patches of thinning hair may be the reason for concern. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia and there are several different types of alopecia that affect men. Some of these types include:
There are many other types of alopecia, some of which mainly affect children, women or the elderly, or are caused by psychological conditions. Some are also commonly seen in tandem with other disorders, especially hormonal disorders, and eating disorders.
The phases of your hair follicles rotate on different time intervals. Some follicles have shorter intervals than others, and research has never been able to pinpoint the cause for the discrepancy in phase time periods. Sometimes, hair follicles prematurely reach the telogen phase, resulting in hair loss. In other cases, follicles may reach this resting phase and never return to the anagen phase, meaning there is no new hair growth after the hair falls out.
Certain factors may affect hair loss. Some of these include:
Hair loss is a pretty tricky topic and most experts and doctors are never really able to pinpoint the cause. However, if you are looking to reduce your chance of hair loss or slow hair loss that is already progressing, you should consider the factors listed above. Your doctor may help you determine if a hormone imbalance or other medical condition may be the cause of your premature hair loss. If so, they may suggest hormone therapy, diet changes or other medications and treatments to help manage to condition or balance your hormones, which may naturally solve your hair loss problem.
In other cases, though, you may not be able to solve the issue so easily. There are other treatments on the market designed to help regrow hair and prevent future hair loss. Some of these treatments include creams, foams, and soaps that are meant to stimulate hair follicle and produce new hair growth.
As a last resort—or in extreme cases—you may want to consider a hair transplant. This process involves a surgeon removing either an entire strip of hair from your scalp, sewing the scalp closed, and then separating that strip of hair into thousands of tiny grafts, or shaving the scalp and removing only the hair follicles from the area. Both styles of hair transplant end in the follicles (or grafted hair strands) being placed inside tiny holed created in the scalp inside the balding area. New hair should grow naturally in the area. However, this process can be costly and there is always a chance that the transplant will fail and the follicles will not set and begin to produce new hairs. Your doctor will be able to discuss with you the chances of success based on your medical history and the severity of your hair loss.