So You're Experiencing Hair Loss. What Now?
Finding a few hairs on your pillow or in your comb is nothing to worry about. At least not when it only happens from time to time. When you start to find clumps of hair left behind, however, it may be cause for concern.
Because you look at yourself in the mirror every day, it can be difficult to notice subtle changes like thinning hair or patchy hair loss. If you were to compare the image you see in your reflection to a picture of your younger self, though, you may not be able to deny it any longer—you’re losing your hair. Hair loss affects every man differently depending on a number of factors, but even so, there is one thing every man should do when he starts losing his hair: Accept it for what it is and start taking steps to treat your hair loss.
Bemoaning your once-luscious locks will do you no good. You need to stop wasting time and start acknowledging your hair loss so you can begin doing what it takes to fix it. We know it's disconcerting, and the whole "Bald is beautiful" thing might not be something you're keen on. But we also know there are things you can do to identify early signs of hair loss, prevent it and even help the stuff you've lost grow back.
How Much Hair Loss is Too Much?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, It is completely normal to lose as many as 50 to 100 hairs every day. After all, you have more than 100,000 hairs on your head, so that isn’t much of a loss. If you’re reading this article, however, you may be wondering: How much hair loss is too much?
To gauge the severity of your hair loss, ask yourself these questions:
When you run your hand through your hair, does it feel as thick as it used to be?
When you take a shower, how many hairs do you find stuck in the drain?
When you brush or comb your hair, how many hairs are left behind?
When you look at yourself in the mirror, does it look like your hairline has changed?
Based on your answers to the questions above, you may come to the realization that your hair is significantly thinner than it used to be or that you’ve developed a receding hairline. Perhaps you’ve known about it for some time but were unwilling to acknowledge it.
Well, that stops now.
The only way to turn things around and to start re-growing your hair is to acknowledge and accept your problem then take steps to resolve it. So, where do you start? Begin by examining your symptoms to determine which type of hair loss you have – this will help you determine the best course of treatment.
Which Type of Hair Loss Do You Have?
There are many different types of hair loss but some are more common than others. Below you’ll find an overview of the top six types of hair loss, and what causes hair loss in men. Take a look at this list and compare each option to your own hair loss to determine which type you might have.
Androgenic Alopecia - Receding hair line, bald spot on the crown or general thinning on top of the head.
Telogen Effluvium – Increase in hair shedding or diffuse thinning over the whole scalp.
Alopecia Areata – One or more small bald circles on the scalp that move, multiply or grow.
Traction Alopecia – Small bald spots on the scalp or visible thinning of the hair.
Alopecia Totalis/Universalis – Total hair loss over the entire head or loss on the whole body.
Androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss, caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. This condition can develop in the early 20s, though it may not be visible for several years. Telogen effluvium is the second most common type of hair loss that causes hair follicles to prematurely enter the dormant phase, effectively stopping hair growth. This form of hair loss is typically triggered by extreme stress, illness or physical injury and it is usually temporary. Traction alopecia is different from other forms of hair loss – it is usually caused by constant tension or pulling on the hair follicles resulting from tight hairstyles.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that takes several forms, all of which involve the immune system mistakenly attacking the hair follicle. The more the follicle becomes damaged, the less it grows. Eventually, hair growth stops and you develop circular bald patches across the scalp. Alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis are both forms of alopecia areata. The former is characterised by the complete loss of hair on the scalp while the latter may also include hair loss on the body.
Reviewing the symptoms on this list should not be a replacement for an appointment with your physician. You may be able to gain some insight into your hair loss by reviewing the above list of symptoms, but only your doctor can make an official diagnosis. Once you have that diagnosis you and your doctor can work together to develop a course of treatment.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
After reviewing the symptoms from the previous section and talking to your doctor, you should have a pretty good idea what kind of hair loss you’ve experienced and that will be a clue as to what you can expect in the future. As you’ve already learned, androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss, affecting as many as 70% of men by age 70 and up. Unfortunately, this form of hair loss cannot be cured – it will continue to progress unless you begin some kind of treatment.
Finasteride (brand name Propecia) is an oral medication that blocks the hormone DHT, helping to slow or stop hair loss. In some cases, the hair may grow back but only as long as you are taking the medication. Minoxidil, a topical solution, is a vasodilator which opens the blood vessels to the hair follicles, improving growth. It too needs to be taken consistently for the best results. Hair loss shampoo is also a viable option, but it should be used in concert with other medications.
If you have telogen effluvium, you need to identify and address the underlying cause of your stress that is contributing to your hair loss. Once you do, your hair may resume its normal growth cycle. For cases of traction alopecia, the treatment is similar – stop engaging in the habits or hairstyles that are causing your hair to fall out so it can resume healthy growth.
Treatments for alopecia areata typically involve steroid injections, scalp irritants, topical immunotherapy, hair loss shampoo and laser light therapy. Unfortunately, there is no cure and none of these seems to be particularly effective in restoring hair loss caused by an autoimmune reaction. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and photochemical therapy are being studied, but there are no conclusive results available as of yet.
What is Your Outlook for the Future?
By now it should be clear that, when it comes to hair loss, your outlook for the future depends on numerous factors. For one thing, the type of hair loss you’re experiencing will determine whether or not any treatment options are available.
Finasteride and minoxidil are the most effective treatments for hair loss. The combination of these two treatments is generally recognized as the most effective therapy for hair loss, particularly androgenic alopecia. In terms of your outlook for the future, you can expect to see noticeable results within three to six months as long as you continue using the medications on a daily basis. If you stop, your new growth may slow down, stop or fall out entirely.
In general, you can expect your hair loss recovery to be fairly slow, but don’t lose hope! If you’re consistent about following your treatment plan, you may be able to stop the clock on hair loss and turn back the hands of time to regain some growth.