Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is the unexpected heavy loss of hair. It is different from hair shedding, which is a part of maintaining natural balance. Hair loss happens when the balance is interrupted or when hairs are lost more quickly than hair grows.
Hair loss can range from mild thinning to total baldness. It can be due to stress, hormonal changes, medications, genetics, or an underlying health condition. Hair loss is more common in men. It is usually a gradual loss that begins from the forehead or in patches throughout the scalp.
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, affects more than half of men over 50 years of age. It usually runs in families; however, the cause of inheritance is not clear. Your hairstyle may also be the reason for hair loss, seen with a ponytail, braids, or any style where the hair next to the scalp is pulled tightly.
What are the Risk Factors of Hair Loss in Men?
Hair loss is more common in the presence of diabetes or lupus. Genetics also plays a big role.
What are the Symptoms of Hair Loss in Men?
Depending on the cause, hair loss varies among men. It can be a sudden loss or a gradual thinning. Keeping a diary can help in tracking any changes experienced and may reveal patterns.
Signs and symptoms of hair loss in men include the following:
- Gradual thinning on the top of the head that may start as a receding hairline
- Bald spots which may be circular or patchy
How is Hair Loss in Men Diagnosed?
Your doctor diagnoses hair loss by observing your symptoms and by performing a physical examination. Medical history is gathered, which includes medications taken, diet, any hair care products used, and exploring any family history of hair loss.
To confirm the diagnosis your doctor may conduct the following:
- Gently pulling on your hair to find out how many hairs come out
- Blood tests to check for vitamin and mineral levels such as iron and zinc
- Blood tests to assess hormone levels
- Examination of the scalp under a microscope
- A scalp biopsy to examine a very small piece of tissue
What are the Treatment Options for Hair Loss in Men?
Treatment depends on the cause of hair loss. Some options are as follows:
- For stress-related hair loss or loss due to hormonal changes, usually, no treatment is recommended as hair loss stops after a period of time.
- For nutritional deficiencies, supplements are prescribed.
- Hair transplant surgery is another option for treating hair loss. Hair transplantation is a surgical technique employed to restore hair to areas with hair loss. This is achieved by transplanting hairs from hair-rich areas to areas of no hair or thin hair. The common hair transplantation techniques include FUT, or a follicular unit transplant, and FUE, follicular unit extraction. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is another option to treat hair loss. Growth factors in the plasma stimulate the hair follicles to help promote hair growth.
- PRP therapy may not be recommended if you are on blood-thinners or if you have a medical condition such as thyroid disease, lupus, hepatitis, or skin cancer.
How is Hair Loss in Men Prevented?
Prevention is not possible in cases of male pattern baldness. Strategies that can help with preventable types of hair loss in men include eating a balanced diet and reducing stress. Smoking may also be a factor and should be avoided.