Rapid Hair Loss in Men: A Guide

On a scale from one to “Whyyy is this happening to my body?” seeing handfuls of hair swirling in the shower drain is right up there with pulling a muscle while putting on pants or having a hangover after two drinks.

These things can seem like a cause for concern and remind you that you’re getting older — which isn’t a bad thing, of course. 

Most hair loss in men is gradual, so you’ll have time to notice the signs of balding. But rapid hair loss happens quickly (as the name suggests), and it can be jarring.

Read on to learn what causes rapid hair loss in men, plus what you can do to protect your hair, prevent further shedding and stimulate hair regrowth.

Causes of Rapid Hair Loss in Men

Shedding is a natural part of the hair growth cycle — it’s normal to lose between 50 to 100 hairs a day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

You don’t have to count each strand that falls out of your head on a given day to know you have rapid hair loss. You’ll know when you see excessive amounts of hair in your comb, on your pillow or in the shower.

However, the causes of rapid hair loss in men can be a bit harder to pin down. Various medical conditions and genetic factors can cause rapid hair loss. In the case of male pattern baldness, men experience permanent hair loss around the hairline, crown or entire scalp.

The good news is that some of the more common causes of rapid hair loss typically cause temporary hair shedding, meaning your hair will gradually grow back after the underlying issue is treated.

Below, we’ll break down hair loss causes that could be the reason your hair is rapidly falling out.

Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia)

Male pattern baldness (aka androgenetic alopecia) is the most common cause of hair loss in men. It affects as many as 50 percent of men by age 50, a percentage that continues to climb with age.

This type of hair loss is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors.

All men have some of the male steroid hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT produces male genitalia in fetal development, and during puberty, this hormone is to thank for body hair, facial hair and a deep voice.

But don’t get too excited just yet.

One of DHT’s less-than-stellar characteristics is, as we get older, it can shorten the hair growth cycle. It attaches to receptors in your hair follicles, causing shrinking or hair miniaturization, ultimately leading to hair thinning and baldness.

Male pattern baldness is usually pretty gradual — you may first notice your hairline is receding, then months or even years later, that thinning hair could lead to a bald spot. But in some cases, male pattern baldness may cause rapid hair loss.

Get the full scoop in our guide to DHT and male hair loss.

Telogen Effluvium

Stress doesn’t cause balding per se, but stress hair loss is a thing.

Telogen effluvium is a common type of hair loss typically triggered by stress, illness or any major shock to the system. It occurs when hairs that should be in the growth (anagen) phase suddenly enter into the resting (telogen) phase of the hair growth cycle.

Think of it like this: If you were sprinting and someone abruptly put a barricade in front of you, you’d fall down immediately. Telogen effluvium is like a barricade for hair growth.

When a large percentage of your hairs stop growing due to stress or a medical condition, they may fall out all at once, leading to sudden hair loss and visible diffuse thinning.

Unlike male pattern baldness, which usually causes hair loss around the hairline or crown, hair loss from telogen effluvium typically affects your entire scalp.

No, you probably won’t start shedding hair after your plane gets delayed for the fourth time (unless you pull your hair out over it, which feels reasonable to us). However, prolonged stress (like losing a job or the death of a loved one) could trigger telogen effluvium.

Beyond significant stress, numerous things can cause telogen effluvium, such as:

  • Illness, severe infection or surgery

  • High fever

  • Sudden weight loss, especially of 20 pounds or more

  • Some types of medication, like beta-blockers or anticoagulants

  • Hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Certain autoimmune disorders, particularly those affecting the thyroid (like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease)

Although telogen effluvium hair loss can happen abruptly, it may take several months after the event or illness before you see hair loss. 

The good news? Telogen effluvium is temporary and usually resolves after the underlying issue is addressed.

Tinea Capitis (Scalp Ringworm)

Tinea capitis (scalp ringworm) is a type of scalp fungus. It usually causes your skin to become red, itchy, dry and cracked, with symptoms similar to other fungal infections affecting the torso, feet and nails.

Scalp ringworm could make you shed hair. When this type of infection is severe, it can cause a permanent form of hair loss called scarring alopecia, which appears as one or more bald patches.

Tinea capitis is most common in children and teens, but it can develop at any age. Besides affecting your scalp, it may spread to your eyebrows and eyelashes.

As a type of fungal infection, tinea capitis is typically treated with oral antifungal medications and antifungal shampoo.

Nutritional Deficiencies

While it doesn’t feel like a CrossFit® workout (thankfully), the process of growing hair requires lots of energy — literally. Hair follicle cells are the most rapidly dividing cells in the body.

If you’re not getting enough energy from food, your body won’t have the fuel it needs to grow hair.

You won’t start shedding hair after a mostly liquid diet at your friend’s bachelor party one weekend. However, if your nutritional needs are consistently not met, or you have a condition like anemia due to an iron deficiency, you could start seeing hair fallout.

Vitamin deficiencies that may cause hair loss include:

  • Iron

  • Ferritin

  • Niacin

  • Zinc

  • Fatty acids

  • Selenium

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin E

  • Folic acid

  • Amino acids

  • Biotin

We should note a biotin deficiency is rare — most people get enough of the B vitamin from the foods they eat.

What to Do If You Experience Rapid Hair Thinning

If you’re rapidly losing hair, take action as quickly as you can to prevent the hair loss from worsening.

Since hair loss has several potential causes, it’s best to talk to an expert to figure out the likely cause of your hair loss. Here are a few options:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider. If you think your hair loss is related to an underlying health issue, such as chronic stress or illness, reach out to your primary care provider for assistance.

  • Contact a dermatologist. Dermatologists specialize in conditions affecting skin and hair, including scalp issues like hair loss. If you’re losing hair rapidly, a dermatologist can examine your scalp and provide a diagnosis.

  • Consider hair loss treatments online. If you’d rather skip the in-person visit, you can talk to a healthcare provider online about treatments for hair loss.

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Rapid Hair Loss Treatments: What to Know

Fortunately, there are things you can do to slow or reverse rapid hair loss and male pattern baldness (if there weren’t, we’d be out of a job).

A healthcare provider can help identify what’s causing your rapid hair loss, whether it’s stress, nutrition or something else.

They may perform blood tests to see if a hormonal imbalance is what’s causing excessive hair loss, check if you have thyroid disease or screen for other autoimmune conditions. Your provider can also tell you if medication side effects could be contributing to hair loss.

Based on the cause of your hair loss, they may suggest one or several of the following treatment options.

Treat Underlying Conditions

When it comes to treating rapid hair loss, it’s important to understand the problem before finding the solution. This could mean assessing your daily stressors or exploring whether an illness or medication may be causing hair loss.

Illnesses that cause hair loss (or may result in hair loss) include:

  • Certain fungal infections

  • Cancer treated with chemotherapy

  • Trichotillomania (TTM), an impulse disorder that causes hair pulling

  • Autoimmune diseases (especially those affecting the thyroid) that cause alopecia areata

  • Eating disorders that cause nutritional deficiencies

  • Skin disorders that cause excessive scratching of the scalp

There are also medications that cause hair loss, including:

  • Chemotherapy drugs 

  • Beta-blockers

  • Statins

  • Certain blood thinners

  • Certain antidepressants

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have (or think you may have) any of the above conditions. And let them know if you’re currently taking medication.

Hair Loss Treatments to Consider

Finasteride and minoxidil are the only two FDA-approved treatments for hair loss. Keep reading to learn how these prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) hair loss treatments work.

Finasteride

Finasteride (also known by its brand name, Propecia®) is proven to slow hair loss and stimulate hair growth.

Remember DHT, the hormone partially responsible for male pattern baldness? Well, finasteride is its archnemesis — the medication reduces the amount of dihydrotestosterone in the body.

Topical Finasteride & Minoxidil Spray

Two heads are better than one with topical finasteride & minoxidil spray.

This hybrid typical treatment is easy to use and combines the two research-backed ingredients. Finasteride and minoxidil have the same goal but work in different ways.

Finasteride blocks DHT, and minoxidil is a vasodilator, meaning it brings blood flow to the scalp along with nutrients and oxygen. It basically taps hair follicles on the shoulder, reminding them to move into the active growth phase of the hair growth cycle.

Minoxidil

One-track mind? Minoxidil is available as a standalone product.

Sold over the counter, this treatment is available as minoxidil foam or liquid minoxidil solution. The foam dispenses kind of like a can of whipped cream, whereas the liquid solution comes in a dropper bottle for easy application.

If you had a previous reaction to the liquid option, the foam could be a better choice, as it doesn’t contain propylene glycol. Either way, only apply minoxidil to areas of the scalp with hair loss.

Habits and Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes, treating rapid hair loss — or at least making it appear fuller while you wait for your hair to grow back in — can be as easy as making some lifestyle changes or tweaking certain habits.

Here’s what you can try:

  • Take your vitamins. Biotin gummies can be beneficial for people deficient in the B vitamin. Hair is primarily made up of keratin, and biotin helps the body produce this protein.

  • Use hair-thickening shampoo. Our over-the-counter volumizing shampoo and volumizing conditioner for men contain a blend of biotin, caffeine and linden berry extract to lift hair from the roots so it looks fuller and feels stronger.

  • Explore saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is a plant extract that may reduce DHT uptake by the hair follicle to slow hormone-related hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia (sometimes called androgenic alopecia) may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, especially in women. Our thickening shampoo with saw palmetto is an easy way to incorporate the ingredient into your everyday routine.

  • Go easy on your scalp. If you wear tight hairstyles like braids or ponytails, you may experience a type of temporary hair loss called traction alopecia. We’re all for a man bun, but giving your scalp a break from tight styles can help reduce patchy hair loss.

Shop by treatment options

No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.

No-pill option

Hair Hybrids by Hims

The Combination Hair Loss Spray

From £26/month

This spray treatment combines two active ingredients used for treating hair loss and hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

No-pill option

Hair Hybrids by Hims

The Combination Hair Loss Serum

From £26/month

This serum treatment combines two active ingredients used for treating hair loss and hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

Generic Treatment

Finasteride & Minoxidil Combo Kit

From £30/month

This combo kit includes two treatments. The once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss. The alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

Generic Treatment

Finasteride

From £23/month

This once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss.

Important Safety Information

Hair Hybrids by Hims

Alcohol-free Minoxidil Serum

From £21/month

This alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth

Important Safety Information

Dealing With Rapid Hair Loss

What causes rapid hair loss? Hopefully, you know the answer to this question now — but we threw a lot at you, so here’s a quick recap:

  • Rapid hair loss can happen for many reasons. Besides hereditary male pattern baldness, this includes nutritional deficiencies, certain illnesses, side effects of medications or good ol’ stress.

  • If you’re losing hair quickly, it’s crucial to seek medical advice as soon as possible. A healthcare provider can identify the root cause of your hair loss and make recommendations to prevent further shedding. 

  • To protect your hair and stimulate regrowth, consider hair loss medication, such as minoxidil or finasteride. You can also try taking hair loss vitamins or using products designed to make your hair look fuller.

  • Telogen effluvium is a type of rapid hair loss often triggered by stress, injury or another shock to the body. Learn more in our guide on how stress causes hair loss.

One of the best ways to avoid rapid hair loss is to catch it early. Our guide to the early signs of balding goes into detail about what you might notice if you’re starting to lose your hair.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

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