Hair loss is a highly sensitive subject for those who are suffering. For many men at the mercy of this cruel and seemingly unnecessary condition, it causes a great deal of mental anguish, worry and stress.
Considering how widespread hair loss and the resulting issues relating to the psychological impact it can have on its sufferers, it is a surprisingly taboo topic to talk about it. This means that for a vast majority of men, going bald is something that is suffered in silence.
In the early stages of this suffering, it can often lead to a lot of irrational thought processes and you searching for information online about what causes hair loss and how you can fix the problem.
As you trawl the internet for information you begin to be drawn into the vicious lies of the hair loss treatment industry which often results in a lot of confusion. So we’ve decided to set the record straight and give you all the facts, statictics and myths about hair loss.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss in men is sometimes referred to as male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia. It is a condition which is caused by genetics and hormones. Hair follicles which were once thick and plentiful become dormant, struggling for survival or completely die.
It is a condition which can occur for men as young as 18, or much later in life. As we age our hair growth rate slows down. It is estimated that a vast majority of men will have some form of hair loss at some point in their life. However, men who suffer the effects much younger or with the greatest severity will deal with the psychological impact that losing hair causes the most.
Hair Loss Facts & Statistics
- It is estimated that around 40% of men will have noticeable hair loss by the time they reach the age of 35.
- This rate continues to increase with age which sees approximately 65% of men having noticeable hair loss by the age of 60 and 80% by the age of 80.
- The most common form of hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia (male pattern baldness), a genetic condition which can commence in men at any age.
- Hair loss is a multi-billion dollar industry, with estimates of hair loss sufferers seeking professional help, more than doubling between 2004 and 2008 from around 360,000 to over 811,000.
- Studies have shown that up to 60% of hair loss sufferers would rather have more hair than either money or friends. Also, 47% of hair loss sufferers would spend their life savings to regain a full head of hair. WTF! Their life savings?
Companies in the hair loss treatment industry are cashing in big time on the pain and fragility of millions of men, who are needlessly worrying about hair loss and are prepared to do or pay anything for a chance to stop it.
Common Hair loss myths
Baldness Comes From Your Mother’s Side
There is a myth that still persists today that says that you should blame your mother’s side of the family for your shortcomings in regards to your hair follicles. However, this is a complete myth. Your hair is determined by your genetics from both sides of your family, so your dad’s side of the family is equally as responsible.
Looking at the family tree is not a completely accurate picture of what is going to happen to you in the future, however, if there is a history of baldies in the family, then there is a good chance that you will have to deal with the same fate.
So don’t for one second think that you are safe if your mother’s side of the family happened to have great hair because if your dad’s side of the family has a history of hair loss, you have the same genetics and could quite possibly continue the trend.
Stress is The Cause
Stress can be responsible for many negative health conditions including some forms of baldness (Telogen effluvium and alopecia areata), however, the most common type (male pattern baldness) is not caused by stress at all.
Stress-induced baldness can affect people in extremely stressful situations such as major accidents, and after giving birth many women experience hair loss so stress is often associated with hair loss.
Excluding these specific situations, stress is not the cause of your hair loss.
Wearing a Hat Will Make You Go Bald
Whilst there is a thing called traction alopecia which involves pulling out your hair, wearing a hat is not the cause of hair loss.
The only way your hat could cause your hair loss is if it was on so tight that it was literally pulling the hair out of your head. Bottom line, wearing a hat or beanie or any type of headwear will generally not cause your hair to fall out and never grow back.
Hair Loss Treatment Options
Hair loss prevention or restoration has become a massive industry. Not surprising really considering how widespread it is coupled with the emotional pain and stress that it can cause sufferers.
As a result, there is a myriad of treatment options available ranging from supplementation, transplantation, shampoos, scalp solutions, laser, and even pharmaceutical drugs.
There are a handful of treatments that have been proven to work, however, most of the treatment options are either mostly ineffective or do not work and have never been proven to work. That doesn’t stop hordes of unscrupulous companies promoting false hope to the follically (is that a word?) challenged.
Here is a brief look at some of the most popular hair loss treatment options available.
Low-Light Laser Therapy (LLLT)
LLLT is a non-invasive effective hair loss treatment that uses laser light to stimulate cell growth in hair follicles. It works by shifting hair follicles into the growth stage in multiple ways.
It increases the production of ATP and the metabolic process of the cells. The light works to increase blood flow and nutrients to the hair follicles, which encourages dormant follicles to reawaken and rejuvenate hair follicles that have started to die.
LLLT has been proven to increase hair volume, strength and overall health. It is also painless, with no known side effects.
Primarily, LLLT is used to treat male pattern baldness, various studies have shown that it can slow down or stop hair loss in up to 85% of patients and up to 55% experienced new hair regrowth.
It is not effective at regrowing hair where baldness has existed for many years, so it is not effective at regrowing hair on completely bald scalps, where hair follicles are dead. It is only effective on active follicles or follicles that lay dormant.
For this reason, it is advised to commence Low-Light Laser Therapy as soon as possible, in the earliest stages of hair loss for the best results. Combining LLLT with other therapies is also shown to increase the effectiveness of each of the treatments alone.
It is a therapy that is expensive, extremely time consuming and necessary to be undertaken for the rest of your life. LLLT will stop working if treatment is discontinued.
Options include professional clinics and there are also many devices designed to be used at home which have hit the market in recent years. It’s a good idea to be cautious before buying one of the thousands of available devices over the internet. Many are not FDA or TGA approved or have undergone electrical safety testing.
Hair transplantation is surgical treatment for hair loss the removes hair follicles from one part of the scalp or body to a balding part of the scalp.
Grafts of skin containing hair follicles resistant to balding, such as the back of the head, are transplanted to areas of the scalp where hair follicles are not resistant to balding.
Most hair transplants are performed to treat the most common form of balding, which is male pattern baldness.
Hair transplantation is not a miracle cure for male pattern baldness. That is because the hair follicles transplanted will eventually succumb to the same fate as the previous follicles that were once active in the same location on the scalp. Yes, it will cover your scalp in the interim, but it will not prevent future hair loss and it is recommended for transplant recipients to undertake other forms of hair loss treatment in conjunction with their transplant if they want to slow down the balding process in years to come.
Hair transplants are extremely expensive and as discussed are not a permanent solution so one may want to consider if this type of surgery is really worth the expense and the time and effort.
Rogaine is a best-selling topical solution for hair loss that does provide a degree of success for some men.
Rogaine comes in a foam or lotion form, the active compound is called minoxidil and is proven to be effective in up to 50% of men who try it.
Rogaine is popular because it doesn’t have many side effects, although it is very time consuming and expensive. Rogaine needs to be applied twice a day, morning and night for the rest of your life.
Scientists are not exactly sure how minoxidil works but it is suspected that it stimulates hair growth by making hair follicles larger, which may increase blood and nutrient flow to the follicles.
The number 1 cause of hair loss, androgenic alopecia is a genetic, hereditary condition that affects men by converting the male sex hormone testosterone, into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has been shown to be a cause of miniaturisation of hair follicles. Over time hair follicles gradually become smaller and smaller and eventually they become dormant, possible due to a lack of blood and nutrient flow.
Finasteride, which contains the active compound called Propecia, is an FDA approved hair loss drug that works by blocking a specific enzyme that is responsible for converting testosterone to DHT.
Propecia is one of the most effective treatments against male pattern baldness. In one study researchers found that up to 80% of men who took finasteride daily saw improvements in hair density and regrowth.
Combining finasteride and minoxidil (Rogaine) has been shown to result in even better results when compared to men who only use one treatment only.
Many men take finasteride because they are worried that hair loss will diminish their ability to attract a mate, so taking a drug which can prevent you getting and maintaining an erection, or even rob you of your sex drive seems a little ironic and paradoxical.
One may need to seriously consider what’s more important in life, a full and luscious head of hair or the ability to get a hard-on?
Finasteride also needs to be taken every day for life, and it is still unclear what the long-term side effects of taking this drug will be because we simply do not have the data as yet.
It’s also worth mentioning that as soon as a man stops taking Finasteride, any hair that regrew will most likely fall out again.
Saw Palmetto may be considered an alternative treatment to hair loss. It is a type of palm tree that grows in warm climates and is native to the Americas.
Saw palmetto extract is available in tablet, liquid or tea form and is readily available in supermarkets and health food stores around the world to treat a number of conditions, including hair loss.
Traditionally the native Americans ate the berries from the Saw Palmetto palm to ease urinary and reproductive problems among other conditions. There is evidence to support it is effective at treating an enlarged prostate, however, the research on whether or not saw palmetto is effective at treating hair loss is somewhat limited.
Saw palmetto is thought to be effective by blocking 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT so it can be considered a sort of natural Finasteride. DHT is said to be responsible for male pattern baldness.
Some studies have shown that some participants who take saw palmetto can expect a moderate increase in hair count and potentially slow down the balding process and of all of the other treatments on the list, it is the one which is the most natural and if used correctly is one that is less likely to cause undesirable side effects.
However, research is limited and it is unlikely that saw palmetto alone can help you either grow back your lost hair or completely stop the hair loss process. It may help a little bit but it is absurd to think for one second the answer to this problem that has existed since the dawn of time can be cured, thanks to a humble berry from a specific type of palm tree.
Whilst there are a number of treatments for hair loss, ranging from natural to invasive surgery, none of these options are going to completely stop your hair loss, nothing in the world is that magic bullet that you may be searching for. The miracle cure for preventing male pattern baldness simply does not exist.
If you are going through hair loss and are struggling to come to terms, then it is a great idea to take solace in the fact that your future happiness really doesn’t depend on or is not in direct proportion to how many active hair follicles reside in your scalp.
Truly, the most liberating thing for you to come to understand is that you can achieve everything that you have ever wanted in life, regardless of your hairstyle. You really can have the best of everything, the best that life can offer, even if you’re bald!
As soon as you come to terms with this, the sooner you can move on to much more important things in life. Plus think of all the money you will save not only on treatment costs but a lifetime of haircuts.
Believe me, as a man who has come to terms with losing his hair, after spending countless hours scouring the internet for a miracle treatment to appear, there is so much more that you could be spending your time on.
Time is a precious finite resource and it should never be wasted on inconsequential issues that you have no control over and have absolutely no bearing on the quality of life that you will have if you choose to ACCEPT IT!