Hair loss in men can be caused by several problems, but male pattern baldness is to blame for a vast majority of cases worldwide.
Figures from the American Hair Loss Association show that 66 percent of men with hereditary male pattern baldness will have experienced some degree of hair loss by the age of 35. About 85 percent will have significant hair loss by age 50.
The U.S NLM (National Library of Medicine) says more than half of all men over the age of 50 experience some age-related hair loss.
These statistics confirm that men who are fortunate enough not to lose any hair as they age, are in fact a minority.
Read on for a detailed explanation of male pattern baldness as well as a few other rare causes of hair loss in men.
Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia is said to be caused by the male sex hormone testosterone. Although there is some truth in this, it is not completely accurate.
It is DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is behind androgenic alopecia. What is DHT? It is a by-product of testosterone after it is broken down with the aid of an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase.
How DHT causes hair loss
DHT causes hair loss because it binds to receptors in hair follicles and shrinks them, therefore reducing their ability to support hair growth. Over time follicles weaken and eventually die.
Why does DHT affect people differently?
It is true that male pattern baldness is genetic. If your father or other male relatives experienced it, then it is likely that you will too. So what is the science behind numerous bald heads at your family gathering?
Well, DHT affects men differently. Related hair loss has less to do with the amount of testosterone in a man’s body and more to do with his individual sensitivity to DHT, which is determined by genetic makeup.
Men who have a higher sensitivity suffer more hair loss than those with lower sensitivity. This is why experts link hair loss in men to genetics.
Other Causes of Hair Loss in Men
Although they are far less common than androgenic alopecia, men could also lose hair due to the use of certain medications, excessive vitamin A, or illness.
Medications: Chemotherapy drugs are top on the list of medications behind drastic hair loss. Other drugs such as some antibiotics, acne medication, antidepressants, and high blood pressure medications have also been found to cause significant hair loss.
Too much vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for healthy hair growth but too much of it can have the opposite effect. Excessive intake over a prolonged period sends hair follicles into overdrive mode. Hair reaches the end of the growth phase too quickly and falls out. If your body can’t make new hair as fast, you may end up experiencing thinning or balding.
Illness: Medical conditions such as thyroid disease and alopecia areata also cause hair loss. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, therefore inhibiting normal growth. The result is small circular bald patches on different parts of the scalp.
As distressing as hair loss can be, one comforting point to remember is that you are definitely not alone. More than half of all men around the world do or will deal with this kind of hair loss at some point in their lives. The bad news is that there is little you can do to reverse it.
Other less common causes of hair loss are generally related to a man’s health. Fortunately, these are often reversible after the cause is identified and dealt with appropriately.