Hair Loss in Men

About 85% of men will encounter hair thinning by the time they’re 50 years of age (1). Some guys start to lose theirs before they turn 21, although balding is more common in older men.

Types of hair loss in men

With age, most guys will start to notice that they’re losing more hair than before – and it’s not growing back. Hair loss can occur in various ways, depending on what’s causing it.

Androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness)

Androgenic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, is the gradual thinning of the head (2). It is the most common type of hair loss in men, within 25% of men starting to experience this type of hair loss before the age of 30. Some men might experience androgenic alopecia as early as their early teens. The sooner it starts, the greater the hair loss will be.

This type of hair loss shows up in a telltale pattern: a receding M-shaped hairline within thinning strands at the sides and the crown of your head. Over time, a horseshoe pattern of hair will evolve, above your ears circling to the lower back of the head.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hypersensitivity is the root cause of androgenic alopecia (3). DHT is the byproduct of testosterone that shrinks hair follicles until they eventually stop producing hair. If your hair follicles are hypersensitive to DHT, they will shrink and allow the hair to fall out; new hair will gradually take longer to grow back until they are unable to regrow. 

Alopecia areata (spot baldness)

Alopecia areata, or spot baldness, make your hair fall out from your scalp suddenly. The resultant bald patches are smooth and round. It can also occur in other parts of the body.

Scarring alopecia

Scarring alopecia, also known as cicatricial alopecia, is a rare collection of disorder that destroys your hair follicles and are replaced by scar tissues. The hair loss is potentially permanent, and you may experience irreversible destruction of hair follicles.

It’s a form of patchy hair loss. The bald patches in scarring alopecia usually have more “ragged” edges compared to that of alopecia areata. Affected areas may be smooth, or may have redness, scaling, uneven pigmentation, or raised blisters.

Sudden loosening of hair

If your body endures physical or emotional stress due to a significant event such as surgery or trauma, you may experience a sudden loosening of hair. This occurs when your hair growth cycle is temporarily disrupted. Handfuls of hair may fall out when washing or combing or even with gentle tugging. It usually causes overall thinning across the scalp.

Full-body hair loss

Some medical conditions and treatments (e.g., chemotherapy) can trigger hair loss all over your body. The hair usually grows back.

Patches of scaling over the scalp

Tinea capitis (i.e., ringworm of the scalp) causes patches of scaling that spread over the scalp. It may be accompanied by broken hair, oozing, redness, and swelling.

Medical treatment

Numerous effective treatments may prevent further hair loss, restore hair growth, or at least slow further thinning.

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Minoxidil (Rogaine) is an FDA-approved over-the-counter topical medication for hair loss. It is available as a 2% solution, an extra-strength 5% solution, and a foam formulation.

When applied onto your scalp twice a day, Minoxidil can slow down the rate of hair loss. It tends to work best on the crown and less on the front of the head. You need to keep using it to retain results – once you stop, hair loss recurs.

Finasteride (Propecia)

Finasteride (Propecia) is an FDA-approved treatment for men with androgenic alopecia (4). It is a type of 5α-reductase inhibitor enzyme, which inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT. The primary use is to maintain hair that’s still intact.

Ketoconazole shampoo

Ketoconazole (Nizoral) can be used to treat androgenic alopecia because of its anti-inflammatory, sebum reduction, and anti-androgen properties (5). It’s available by prescription or over-the-counter.

You can find ketoconazole in Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo. Use Nizoral together with finasteride and minoxidil for maximum benefit. Apply the shampoo once every two to four days and leave it on the scalp for three to five minutes after it has been applied.

Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)

Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is a “classic” hair transplant procedure. It involves taking some skin from the back of your scalp where the hair is abundant, removing the follicles from that strip of skin, and then reinserting the hair follicles into the part of the scalp into the bald areas.

Follicular unit extraction (FUE)

In follicular unit extraction (FUE), hair follicles are removed directly from the scalp and transplanted to the bald parts of the scalp. Fewer steps, less handling, and manual transferring of graft allow the FUE procedure to be accomplished at a faster speed, reduced risks of graft failure, and poor growth quality as well as with improved patient comfort.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Also known as “Vampire PRP hair growth,” platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a non-invasive treatment for hair loss. Your whole blood is processed and then reinjected into your scalp, where it revives dying follicles and regrows weak hair. During the transplant process, PRP may also strengthen non-transplanted hair, minimize donor scarring, and accelerate wound healing. Also, PRP has been shown to improve graft survival and accelerate the growth of transplanted hair.

Lifestyle remedies for hair loss

You can try home remedies to regrow hair that you’ve lost or to enhance the hair that you have.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT)

Low-level laser devices are FDA-approved for treating androgenic alopecia (6). It works by reducing the inflammation of hair follicles that keep hair from growing. A few small studies showed that it improves hair density with no severe side effects (7). They come in the form of helmets, combs, and caps.

Try essential oils

Aromatherapy may help stimulate hair growth. However, remember to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil before applying on the scalp.

Lavender essential oil

Lavender oil can speed hair growth. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which can improve scalp health.

Mix several drops of lavender oil into three tablespoons of carrier oil. Apply directly to your scalp. Leave it for at least 10 minutes before washing it out. Then, shampoo as you usually would. You can repeat several times per week.

Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint oil contains menthol, which causes the blood vessels under the skin to dilate. This additional blood flow to the scalp area can help to promote hair growth during the anagen phase. It is also shown to increase the number of follicles, follicle depth, scalp thickness, and overall hair growth rate (8).

Mix 2 drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil. Massage it into your scalp and leave for 5 minutes. Wash it out thoroughly.

Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary oil is an excellent choice for hair growth, thanks to its ability to improve cellular regeneration and stimulate new hair growth in people with androgenic alopecia. Research showed that rosemary oil is as effective as minoxidil in treating hair loss but with fewer side effects (9).

Mix several drops of rosemary oil into a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. Apply it to your scalp. Leave it in for at least 10 minutes before washing it out with shampoo. Repeat twice per week for optimal results.

Cedarwood essential oil

Cedarwood essential oil can promote hair growth and reduce hair loss by balancing the oil-producing glands in the scalp. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Mix a few drops of cedarwood essential oil with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil of your choice. Massage it into your scalp, and leave it on for 10 minutes before washing it out.

Alternatively, you can mix cedarwood, lavender, and rosemary oil and dilute it accordingly with a carrier oil.

Clary sage essential oil

Clary sage oil contains linalyl acetate, which helps increase hair growth and make hair stronger.

Dilute three drops of clary sage oil with your hair conditioner or with one tablespoon of carrier oil. If using it daily, rinse out after 2 minutes. If using it once or twice per week, leave it on for 10 minutes.

Tea tree essential oil

Tea tree oil has powerful cleansing, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. When used topically, it can help increase hair growth either alone or when combined with minoxidil.

Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil into your shampoo or conditioner. Or, you can mix three drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of carrier oil and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing it out. Use it daily.

CBD oil

CBD oil is full of fatty acids, amino acids, and antioxidants – all essential nutrients for robust, healthy hair. In particular, amino acids and fatty acids strengthen hair by stimulating oxygen supply to the scalp area. Antioxidants, meanwhile, protect against free radical damage, which can otherwise cause hair loss. It also regulates sebum production.

There are many ways to use CBD on your hair and scalp. You can apply CBD oil directly, use a shampoo that contains CBD, or add CBD oil to a conditioning treatment.

Other natural topical hair products

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has long been used to combat hair loss. It works by soothing the scalp, conditioning the hair, and unclogging the hair follicles that may be otherwise be clogged by excess oil.

Apply aloe vera gel to your scalp and hair several times per week. You can also use shampoo and conditioner that contain aloe vera.

Caffeine

Caffeine facilitates hair follicle proliferation in males by suppressing the action of testosterone. Specifically, caffeine enhances the length of hair shafts, prolong anagen duration, and stimulate keratinocyte growth.

There are a variety of caffeinated products that you can apply directly to your scalp.

Onion juice

Onion juice has been shown to treat patchy hair loss (alopecia areata) by improving blood circulation to the cuticles and improving keratin growth (10).

Use onion juice topically on your scalp and hair. Leave in for at least 15 minutes. Then shampoo.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains fatty acids that can penetrate the hair shaft and mitigate protein loss from within the hair.

Supplements or vitamins

Biotin supplements

Biotin is a vitamin B7 supplement that can strengthen hair and prevent hair low. There are several types of biotin shampoos in the market.

Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto is shown to increase hair growth in men with androgenic alopecia. It works by blocking the 5α-reductase enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.

Viviscal

Viviscal is a natural hair growth supplement. It contains a marine complex known as AminoMar C, which is made of vitamins, minerals, and shark and mollusk powder. These ingredients help to regenerate new hair cells and strengthen existing hair cells.

Take the viviscal pills twice a day for at least six months. Alternatively, you may opt for Viviscal shampoo and conditioner.

Derma roller

Dermarolling causes small incisions on your skin to cause minor damage to your skin, so it will start to heal and regenerate. It may also help to induce stem cell regeneration in the scalp, culminating in hair growth. Furthermore, using derma roller on the scalp can also promote the absorption of hair growth products, such as minoxidil.

Massage the scalp

Massaging the scalp can stimulate blood circulation in the scalp, which could facilitate hair growth and thickness. Research showed that massaging your scalp for 4 minutes per day with a scalp massager can thicken your hair after six months (11).

Maintain a balanced diet

Incorporating protein, omega-3, and iron into your diet can facilitate your hair regrowth efforts. Try increasing your intake of:

  • Protein-rich foods, like eggs, nuts, lean meats, and seafood
  • Omega-3-rich foods, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, flax seeds, egg yolks, hemp seeds, and walnuts
  • Iron-rich foods, including lean beef, clams, lentils, oysters, pumpkin seeds, turkey, beans, green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified grains, and eggs

Also, drink more water and less alcohol.

Treat your hair delicately

Avoid using heat on your hair

The high heat of hairdryers, straighteners, and other heat styling tools can hurt your hair. Avoid or limit the use of these tools. If you need to use a hairdryer, be sure to put it on a low setting and use a heat protectant spray. Alternatively, you can allow your hair to dry naturally.

Be gentle with hair styling

Be as gentle as possible when styling or brushing your hair. Consistently twisting, twirling, or pulling your hair too tightly can lead to hair loss.

Limit chemical treatments

If you’re worried about hair loss, avoid chemical treatment such as:

  • Hot oil treatments
  • Bleaching your hair
  • Chemicals used in hair straightening treatments and perms

Styling tricks

Make the most of what you have by using styling hacks to mask the hair loss.

Hairstyles

Cut your hair short so that you can avoid a comb-over. Not only may a cropped cut allow thin hair patches to blend in, but it can also make the hair appear fuller. As such, consider hairstyles like buzz cuts and crew cuts if your hair is thinning. Undercuts may also be ideal as their minimal sides and back can make the top of your hair appear more voluminous in comparison.

Hair-fiber powders

Hair-fiber powders may work to camouflage balding areas. These colored, powdery fiber sprinkles have unique properties that enable them to attach to hair and confer a fuller appearance. Often, these fiber powders can be used in conjunction with other medical treatments like Rogaine and Propecia. Toppik is one of the most mainstream manufacturers of hair-fiber powders.

Hairpieces

Among the time-honored ways to fill in hair temporarily are hair weaving or hairpieces, in which a mesh is attached to the remaining hair, and artificial or human hair of similar color and texture is woven with existing hair.

The Bottom Line

 If you’ve been noticing a receding hairline or is worried about balding, come up with a plan and stay consistent. Remember that the treatments may take several months to yield significant results.

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