Male Hair Loss: Reasons Why Your Hair Is Falling Out

Erdim Özdemir

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Is your hair falling out? From the age of 30, a receding hairline can be one of the first signs of baldness.[1] Most cases of hair loss are genetic and difficult to treat. But with the right treatment, you can slow down the process of hair loss – and even stimulate hair growth.

Almost 50 million men worldwide have to deal with hair loss due to a genetic predisposition. There’s often not much you can do about your genes. Of course, you can’t stop us from trying to halt the process – to date, 100 million shampoos have been sold worldwide that are supposed to put a stop to male hair loss.

Scientists are still debating whether shampoos with caffeine, for example, actually help. What can help, apart from medication, is to compensate for various possible nutrient deficiencies. For instance, your hair needs vitamin C and vitamin D, and minerals like magnesium, selenium, and iron in order to remain healthy and full.

Discover more about male hair loss – namely, signs of hair loss in men, causes of hair loss in men, alopecia in men, and treatment for hair loss. We’ll explore the various nutrients your hair needs and also discuss how hair transplants work.

What Is Hair?

First things first: What is hair? On average, 100,000 hairs grow on our heads and five million more on the rest of our bodies. Hair, with its length and color, not only determines our physical appearance, but it also carries out much more important functions: It protect our head from sunburn and prevents foreign substances from entering our eyes, nose, and ears. They enhance our sense of touch and play a role in regulating our body temperature.[2]

Hair consists of dead cells. That’s why we feel no pain when the hairdresser cuts it off. Hair grow from small hair follicles under the skin, consisting of the hair bulb and hair papilla. Blood flows there to the hair root, which is made of proteins (keratin) and from which several hair cells are formed. Hair grows out of the skin through the sebaceous glands, which coat the hair with fat-like substances. The visible part of our hair is called the hair shaft. Up to four hairs can grow from one follicle.[2, 3]

How fast does hair grow? A hair grows up to 1.25 centimeters per month. In a year, a hair grows up to 15 centimeters. Men’s hair grows faster than women’s.[3]

Man with gray hair experiencing hair falling out

Straight or Curly: Why Does Our Hair Look the Way It Does?

Whether hair curls or stays straight is determined by the shape of our hair follicles: If they are round, our hair grows curly.[4] The color pigment melanin determines our hair color. The higher the melanin content in our hair, the darker it becomes. How much melanin is in the hair depends on genetics. As we grow older, our body produces less melanin, which causes hair to turn gray to white.[2]

Did you know that you already had hair before you left your mother’s womb? Lanugo hairs protect fetuses from sound and vibrations.[5]

Male Hair Loss: Signs of Hair Loss in Men

Men suffer from hair loss more often than women. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 50 to 100 hairs normally fall out every day – these usually grow back within nine months. When hair starts to fall out in clumps and bald patches appear, it’s not always down to genetics – there are other causes of hair loss in men. If you do not take care of these causes, hair often cannot grow back.[6, 7]

What Are the Causes of Hair Loss in Men?

A total of 90 percent of cases of hair loss are hereditary (known as androgenetic alopecia). This means that hair roots on the head react sensitively to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of testosterone, as you grow older. This attacks hair roots and thus causes hair to fall out.[8, 9] In addition to genetics, there are other causes of hair loss in men, including:[6, 7, 10, 11]

  • significant weight loss, smoking, chronic stress
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • excessive use of hair styling products
  • thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases (rheumatism, diabetes)
  • medication (antihypertensives, antidepressants, chemotherapy)

What Lack of Nutrients Cause Hair Loss?

On average, ten percent of hair loss cases are caused by nutrient deficiencies. Without certain nutrients, hair cells cannot form. If you receive optimal levels of the following nutrients, you can strengthen, fortify, and protect your hair from falling out:[11-13]

banner to ferritin test

What Causes Alopecia in Men?

When hair loss leads to visible bald patches, doctors call this alopecia. There are two important forms of alopecia in men: circular hair loss and diffuse hair loss.

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, around 6.8 million people in the United States are said to suffer from circular hair loss (alopecia areata). This is when the immune system attacks head or beard hairs until circular bald patches remain. After a few months, hair can grow again – but later it can also fall out again. It usually affects men from the age of 20.

Diffuse hair loss describes the process of hair falling out uncontrollably on your entire head. There are no obvious bald patches. However, your scalp shines through as your hair always becomes thinner.[10]

Did you know that women find bald men more attractive? A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that a bald head is associated with strength and success.[14]

How Do I Treat Male Hair Loss?

In order to stimulate hair growth again, those affected by male hair loss resort to medication, dietary supplements, shampoos, or even surgical procedures. But not every method promises success.

What Is the Best Treatment for Hair Loss?

Medicines containing the active ingredients finasteride, duasteride, or minoxidil have been shown to counteract hereditary hair loss in many cases and to stimulate hair growth again. In some cases, however, they only protect against further hair loss. Minoxidil promotes blood flow in the head, which allows new hair to grow, while the other substances curb the conversion of testosterone into DHT.[15]

Did you know that the anti-hair loss drugs finasteride and duasteride are available in tablet form? Minoxidil is applied as a foam to the scalp. Note that side effects such as skin redness, depression, and erectile dysfunction may occur.[15]

Can Shampoos Promote Hair Growth?

Many shampoos promise to stop hair loss – but the studies on this are insufficient. Most shampoos contain caffeine or ketoconazole, which may stimulate hair growth; their effect is said to be similar to that of the drug minoxidil.[16–18]

Are There Natural Remedies to Boost Hair Growth?

A study on animals published in Pharmacognosy Magazine in 2011 was able to show that extracts of Indian nard were able to stimulate hair growth again after hair loss.[19] Lavender and peppermint oils were also found to be effective in animal studies.[20, 21] Extracts of saw palmetto and rosemary oil can help with hereditary hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).[22, 23]

If male hair loss is associated with iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, or zinc deficiency, you should supplement these nutrients by means of dietary supplements.[11] This also applies to the vitamin biotin – at least in women, for whom biotin supplements have been shown to be effective in studies. Whether this can also be effective in men needs to be clarified by further studies.[24–26]

Chronic stress and high cortisol levels can promote male hair loss. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed in your everyday life, you should find relief with relaxation techniques such as yoga or progressive muscle relaxation!

How Does a Hair Transplant Work?

If head hair does not grow back, and people really want a head of healthy hair, people with alopecia can enquire about a hair transplant. Hair follicles from the back of the head, back, or chest are transplanted to the bald areas on the head. The procedure can take up to six hours. After about three to four months, hair will grow from the follicles. However, there is a risk that hair may fall out after the transplant.[27, 28]

Male Hair Loss – at a Glance

How Many Hairs Does a Person Lose Every Day?

People normally lose 50 to 100 of their five million hairs every day.

What Are the Causes of Hair Loss in Men?

Some people are genetically sensitive to the by-product of testosterone dihydrotestosterone, which causes hair to fall out.

In addition, nutrient deficiencies such as iron, vitamin D, zinc, biotin, protein; stress; smoking; autoimmune diseases; and some medications can cause hair loss.

How Can I Prevent Hair Loss?

In the case of genetic male hair loss or alopecia in men, you can resort to medicines containing the active ingredients minoxidil, finasteride, or duasteride.

Extracts of Indian stigma or saw palmetto are suitable as natural remedies. Besides essential oils such as rosemary, lavender or peppermint oil, and pumpkin seed oil also promotes hair growth.

If you suffer from a specific nutrient deficiency, you should compensate for the deficiency with the appropriate supplements.

Sources

[1]        Ellis, J. A., Sinclair, R., Harrap, S. B. Androgenetic alopecia: pathogenesis and potential for therapy, Expert Rev Mol Med, vol. 4(22), pp. 1–11, November 2002.

[2]        Faller, A., Schünke, M. Der Körper des Menschen - Einführung in Bau und Funktion, 16. Thieme.

[3]        How hair grows | American Academy of Dermatology, available at https://www.aad.org/public/kids/hair/how-hair-grows, accessed on February 18, 2019.

[4]        Why everyone’s hair is different | American Academy of Dermatology, available at https://www.aad.org/public/kids/hair/why-everyones-hair-is-different, accessed on February 18, 2019.

[5]        Pschyrembel Online | Lanugobehaarung, available at https://www.pschyrembel.de/Lanugobehaarung/T0037/doc/, accessed on April 9, 2019.

[6]        Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? | American Academy of Dermatology, available at https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/hair-loss-vs-hair-shedding, accessed on February 13, 2019.

[7]        Hair loss - Symptoms and causes, Mayo Clinic, available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hair-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20372926, accessed on February 13, 2019.

[8]        Testosteron macht nicht nur männlich! March 14, 2013, available at https://web.archive.org/web/20130314170845/http://prohaar.msd.de/service/news/test_4330.html, accessed on February 13, 2019.

[9]        Deutsches Endokrinologisches Versorgungszentrum, Anlagebedingter Haarausfall - www.endokrinologen.de available at https://www.endokrinologen.de/androgenetische-alopezie.php, accessed on February 18, 2019.

[10]      Alopecia Areata Deutschland e.V., Alopecia Areata – Ursache und Diagnose kreisrunder Haarausfall,” available at https://kreisrunderhaarausfall.de/ursachen-diagnose-alopecia-areata-haarausfall/, accessed on February 13, 2019.

[11]      Guo, E. L., Katta, R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use, Dermatol Pract Concept, vol. 7(1), pp. 1–10, January 2017.

[12]      Pubchem, Biotin, available at https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/171548, accessed on February 18, 2019.

[13]      Die ganze Welt der Vitamine, Mineralstoffe und Enzyme. Renningen: garant Verlag GmbH, 2016.

[14]      Mannes, A. E. Shorn Scalps and Perceptions of Male Dominance, Social Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 4(2), pp. 198–205, March 2013.

[15]      Banka, N., Bunagan, M. J. K., Shapiro, J. Pattern Hair Loss in Men: Diagnosis and Medical Treatment, Dermatologic Clinics, vol. 31(1), pp. 129–140, January 2013.

[16]      Dhurat, R., et al, An Open-Label Randomized Multicenter Study Assessing the Noninferiority of a Caffeine-Based Topical Liquid 0.2% versus Minoxidil 5% Solution in Male Androgenetic Alopecia, SPP, vol. 30(6), pp. 298–305, 2017.

[17]      Hugo Perez, B. S. Ketocazole as an adjunct to finasteride in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men, Med. Hypotheses, vol. 62(1), pp. 112–115, 2004.

[18]      Piérard-Franchimont, C., De Doncker, P., Cauwenbergh, G., Piérard, G. E., Ketoconazole shampoo: effect of long-term use in androgenic alopecia, Dermatology (Basel), vol. 196(4), pp. 474–477, 1998.

[19]      Gottumukkala, V. R., Annamalai, T., Mukhopadhyay, T., Phytochemical investigation and hair growth studies on the rhizomes of Nardostachys jatamansi DC, Pharmacogn Mag, vol. 7(26), pp. 146–150, 2011.

[20]      Lee, B. H., Lee, J. S., Kim, Y. C., Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice, Toxicol Res, vol. 32(2), pp. 103–108, April 2016.

[21]      Oh, J. Y., Park, M. A., Kim, Y. C. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs, Toxicol Res, vol. 30(4), pp. 297–304, December 2014.

[22]      Murugusundram, S. Serenoa Repens: Does It have Any Role in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia? J Cutan Aesthet Surg, vol. 2(1), pp. 31–32, 2009.

[23]      Panahi, Y., Taghizadeh, M., Marzony, E. T., Sahebkar, A. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial, Skinmed, vol. 13(1), pp. 15–21, February 2015.

[24]      Rogers, N. E., Avram, M. R. Medical treatments for male and female pattern hair loss, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol. 59(4), pp. 547–566, October 2008.

[25]      Glynis, A. A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, vol. 5(11), pp. 28–34, November 2012.

[26]      Patel, D. P., Swink, S. M., Castelo-Soccio, L., A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss, Skin Appendage Disord, vol. 3(3), pp. 166–169, August 2017.

[27]      Mysore, V. Body Hair Transplantation: Case Report of Successful Outcome, J Cutan Aesthet Surg, vol. 6(2), pp. 113–116, 2013.

[28]      Gesellschaft für Ästhetische Chirurgie Deutschland, Haartransplantation, available at https://www.gacd.de/haartransplantation.php, accessed on April 9, 2019.

[29]      What you need to know about alopecia areata,” National Alopecia Areata Foundation, available at https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata, accessed on September 10, 2021.

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