What can cause hair loss?
Every man and woman sheds around one hundred hairs every single day. This is a totally natural thing and you shouldn’t worry about it. Then there is actual hair loss, which could be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause. Not all hair loss is due to male pattern baldness. Consider the following causes:
- Hormonal disorders – To do with the pituitary and thyroid glands.
- Nutrient deficiencies – Low iron; malnutrition; low protein intake; eating disorders.
- Nutrient oversupply – Too much selenium or vitamin A in the diet.
- Medication usage – Anticoagulants, retinoids, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, anabolic steroids, some antidepressants and some anticonvulsants.
- Cancer treatments – Radiation and chemotherapy.
- Hair products and treatments – Dyes, hot oils and chemicals.
- Skin disorders – Psoriasis; alopecia; seborrheic dermatitis; follicle infection and even sunburn.
- Infections – Fungal infections including ringworm.
- Stress – Including acute or chronic illness.
- Medical conditions – For example anaemia, lupus, thyroid disease and diabetes.
How to identify male pattern baldness
There are ways to determine if the reason you are losing your hair is actually male pattern baldness.
What to look for at the front of your head?
Typically, male pattern baldness is evident at the front of the scalp first. This is known as your frontal hairline.
For most men, as their hair loss progresses over time, the frontal hairline forms into a rounded ‘M’, as the hairs on the temples and crown seem to be the most sensitive to DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). Fewer men will experience less of an ‘M’ and more of a half-moon effect.
As more time passes, the middle of the M recedes further, resulting in a ‘U’ or horse-shoe shape towards the back of the head and this signifies quite advanced male pattern baldness. For some men, it goes even further, to complete baldness.
Check your crown for bald patches
The crown of your head can be susceptible to hair loss too and sometimes it happens there before it’s noticeable at the front. Maybe you’ve seen a photo of yourself or someone has commented on your bald patch or widening part.
You can check your own crown by holding a mirror above your head whilst standing in front of another – just like a barber does. You can also enlist the help of your partner or a sympathetic friend to snap a photo of your crown so you can see it for yourself.
Before and after photos
Usually, before and after photos are a positive thing such as in weight loss. They may, however, tell a sadder story for men suffering from male pattern baldness. You can gauge the level of hair loss by taking a selfie in the bathroom mirror every month and comparing the photos after a couple of months.
It could be your imagination, or it could be that you are one of the hundreds of thousands of men who must deal with male pattern baldness. At the very least, the photos will give you the proof you need to either forget about it, or deal with it.
Keep an eye out for hair fall
Have you noticed loads of errant hairs on the headrest of your car? Perhaps on your coat jacket or lapel? Or maybe you’re seeing clumps of hair in your brush or comb, or on your pillow?
If you’re monitoring your hair loss, you’ll want to keep tabs on how many you find. Make sure you remove any hairs from your brush or comb before each use so that the next time, you’ll see how many have fallen out. Try sleeping with a contrasting coloured pillow slip (white if your hair is dark, black if your hair is light) and check it each morning. If you’re noticing 10 to 20 hairs on it each time, then you may just have a hair loss problem.
Who to see about your thinning hair?
For a lot of men, they either go into denial or they panic. Neither will help but you’ll do what feels right for you.
You might like to visit your family doctor which is a good starting point but GPs aren’t always up to date with the latest hair loss treatments.
If possible, go and see a specialist as soon as you can. The problem isn’t particularly urgent but it will allow you to know exactly what you’re dealing with.
A specialist should be able to take a look at you and diagnose your male pattern baldness… or whatever else it is. It’s likely that they will also use a densitometer (basically a magnifying tool) to inspect your scalp in order to determine whether there is any miniaturisation of your hair follicles.
They will also enquire as to your family history of hair loss and may or may not order a scalp biopsy. If it is male pattern baldness, it should be pretty obvious to a professional.
What else can you do?
If you are facing MPB, then there’s not a great deal you can do on your own to cure it. But there are solutions you can investigate that will help you feel better.
- If your hair is long, don’t tie it up for bed. If it gets in your way, try wearing a band to keep it in place instead.
- Use conditioner after shampooing so that your hair won’t become tangled in the brush and fall out from not brushing gently enough.
- Ask a barber to re-style the way you wear your hair so that it conceals any sparse areas.
- Shave your head and embrace it!
- Look into proven treatments such as minoxidil and finasteride.
These days, there are loads of options for the balding man and – alongside effective hair loss treatments – we have the advantage of stellar hair transplant options.
It can be a source of great optimism to know that you don’t have to accept male pattern baldness if you don’t want to.
Guest editorial by Spencer “Spex” Stevenson. For further insight into proven hair loss treatments visit Spex’s site at www.spexhair.com