What causes hair loss in men?
Genetic hair loss
Androgenic Alopecia (AGA), commonly referred to as ‘male pattern baldness’ is genetic form of hair loss and is the most common type of hair loss in men.
It is a hereditary condition passed down through your family and is so common that it is even considered to be a normal process of ageing. Your mother or father (or both) can carry this gene, and if inherited it is likely to make your hair follicles sensitive and prone to hair loss.
AGA affects 50% of the male population by the age of 50, and over 80% of men after the age of 70. Physiologically, it causes the hair follicles to miniaturise in a typical pattern including (but not always together) hairline recession forming exaggerated ‘widows peaks’, and thinning/balding at the crown.
There are many different types of medical conditions that can cause hair loss in men.
For example, Alopecia Areata causes hair loss in randomised patches across the scalp. It is caused by a faulty immune response whereby the body attacks itself, causing hair to fall out in a way that leaves noticeable bald spots.
It can occur anywhere on the head and the bald spots can range from small to very large. Unfortunately, this can progress to complete baldness and can affect other areas of the body such as eyebrows and any other body hair.
Other autoimmune diseases that can cause hair loss include Hashimoto’s disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and more
Side effects of medication are often overlooked when it comes to hair loss, particularly when it comes to supplementation. Medications that can initiate hair loss include thrombolytics (blood thinners), antihypertensives (blood pressure medications), and steroids to name a few. Many treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also well known to cause hair loss.
Diet and nutrition
Strict diet regimens can often involve restricting certain macronutrients and food groups. This in turn can cause deficiencies in important micronutrients that the hair requires to propagate and grow. Therefore diets that are low in iron, zinc, or protein can interfere with hair health and production. This may also cause the hair follicles to release their hair, become dormant and stop producing hair altogether.
Certain forms of exercise such as heavy weight training can exaggerate the natural production of testosterone within the body. Testosterone gets converted to the androgen known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which essentially attack and destroy the hair follicles, causing hair loss. An intense training regimen increases endogenous testosterone, increasing the bioavailability of DHT and causing hair loss.
Vasoconstriction is one of the many negative side effects of smoking (tobacco and nicotine and its own).
Systemically it causes the blood vessels to contract, disallowing sufficient blood flow locally to the scalp and hair follicles. Limited bloody supply results in limited nutrient supply, starving the hair follicles of vital elements it needs to produce healthy hair.
Long-term sleep deprivation, chronic sleep issues such as insomnia and anything that interrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythm can cause hair loss. Sleep apnoea is a fairly common sleep disorder that restricts airflow and oxygen entry into the blood stream. This lack of oxygenation to the hair follicle causes hair loss.
When we experience stress the body releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is one of the hormones responsible for the fight-or-flight response. The body works overtime to protect vital organs necessary for survival, minimising blood flow to the scalp. Continuous and excessive production of cortisol can trigger otherwise dormant genetic hair loss (APA).
Hygiene and scalp condition
The condition of the scalp is important when it comes to hair growth. An inflamed, flaky or itchy scalp can prevent hair growth.
A clean, healthy scalp provides for an optimal foundation for hair growth. Cleaning the scalp regularly by massaging a high-quality, sulphate-free shampoo and rinsing using warm (not hot) water will improve the condition of the scalp for hair growth.