Why You’re Losing Your Hair and What to Do to Get it Back

Ask men what they fear the most about growing older and the majority of them, if honest, will probably tell you it’s losing their hair. If men seem a little touchy about the idea of going bald, you can hardly blame them. While professional athletes and Bruce Willis can pull off the bald look successfully, the majority of men aren’t so fortunate.

Sadly, no matter how much we men might fight back against baldness, approximately 85 percent of men will suffer significant hair thinning by the age of 50, according to the American Hair Loss Association. Some less fortunate men will even begin to lose their hair before they hit their 21st birthday.

What Causes Hair Loss?

Because men are constantly looking for ways to prevent hair loss, a lot of misinformation gets passed around about what actually causes baldness. Wearing a baseball cap, running your fingers through your hair, combing, styling, and twisting have all been associated with baldness, but in reality only thing actually causes a man to permanently lose his hair, genetics.

hair loss

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photo_magic_allan/5300213090/

Over 95 percent of all male hair loss is caused by male-patterned baldness, a genetic trait that can be passed down from either parent. One of the trademark signs of early male-pattern baldness is a M-shape that forms at the front of a man’s receding hairline. Next, the hair on the top of a man’s head begins to thin, leaving a bald spot that slowly begins to spread outward. Eventually the bald spot and the M-shaped hairline meet, and a man will be left with a pattern of hair around his head that resembles a horseshoe.

What causes a man’s hair to fall out in the first place is the hormone DHT, which causes the hair follicles on a man’s head to shrink. Eventually these follicles will shrink to the point that hair can no longer grow from them. Fortunately, alopecia, the fancy Scrabble word for hair loss, doesn’t mean a man has a serious medical problem. While unfortunate, baldness does not pose a health risk.

Restoring Hair

While modern science has made many remarkable breakthroughs in recent years, it still has yet to find a cure for male-pattern baldness. However, certain medications can help slow down hair loss once it has begun. Since it’s easier to prevent hair loss than replacing it once it’s gone, men who notice the early signs of male-pattern baldness may want to take precautions early on.

Minoxidil is a Food and Drug Administration medication approved for over-the-counter sale that is applied to the scalp. Minoxidil helps to slow the rate of hair loss, and in some cases, treatment can actually restore hair growth. However, once you stop taking Minoxidil, hair loss will continue.

Another option for men suffering from hair loss is finasteride. A prescription pill, finasteride helps to slow hair loss by decreasing the amount of DHT the body produces. Some men on finasteride show new hair growth, and most researchers seem to agree that finasteride works better than minoxidil. Pregnant women should not touch the drug, however, as exposure to finasteride could cause birth defects in male fetuses.

If you have any questions about what hair loss treatment is right for you, ask your doctor or dermatologist.

Timothy Lemke blogs about health for Dr. Matt Roane, a West Linn dentist at Roane Family Dental.

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