A young man not more than 25 sat on a barber’s chair to have his regular haircut. Before the barber began cutting, he ran his hand through the young man’s hair as he always does before beginning to snip. The barber abruptly stopped on a specific spot of the young man’s head and exclaimed, “I have bad news for you bud. It’s going.” “What’s going?” The young man asked. “Your hair buddy.” The barber then held up a mirror so the young man could see a reflection of the small thinning patch behind his head. It’s not yet bare, yet it’s lighter in color than its surrounding areas. The young man was crushed and his eyes lowered. He wondered, “is there an available hair loss treatment?”
“Only one thing stops hair falling,” the barber said. “What stops it?” The customer hopefully asked. The barber replied, “the floor.”
What is Hair Loss?
The American Academy says it’s normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair per day, but if you feel you are losing more, then you might just have a problem. Don’t lower your eyes and look at the floor just yet.
Hair loss or alopecia is categorized as something that stops new hair from growing to replace the ones that have fallen out. New hair normally replaces lost hair, however this doesn’t always happen. The condition may be temporary or permanent and can develop gradually over years or it can happen suddenly.
Regardless if the condition is temporary or permanent, the problem won’t go away on its own. You may require treating the underlying condition that is causing the loss of hair.
What causes hair loss?
There are many factors that can cause hair loss among men.
- They may be due to hereditary factors or genetics: Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is triggered by the genes you inherit from your parents. If you have male relatives from your father or mother side, or both that are bald or balding, chances are, you will more than likely, go bald too.
- Hormonal changes: It is not clear why certain hormonal changes can cause hair follicles to shrink.
- Medical issues: Usually temporary but can be the result of an underlying condition such anemia or thyroid problems. Low protein and low iron diets can also possibly cause your hair to grow thin. The risk factor goes up several notches if you have diabetes or lupus.
- Drugs: Thinning hair or even hair loss can be the side effect of certain drugs or medication you take for cancer, arthritis, gout, depression, high blood pressure, or even for heart problems.
- Stressful events: General thinning of the hair is observed among people who experienced physical or emotional shock. This type of hair loss is usually temporary.
- Hairstyles and treatments: certain men do excessive hair styling or don hairstyles such as tight pigtails or man buns, or even tight cornrows. Hot oil treatments can also cause hair to fall out. The danger is if scarring occurs, hair loss could be permanent.
Signs and symptoms of hair loss
Depending on what causes it, hair loss can appear in various ways. As mentioned earlier, it can come gradually spanning years, or it can come all too suddenly covering a short amount of time.
Some signs and symptoms you may have of hair loss include:
- Thinning hair: The most common symptom type affecting people as they advance with age. The condition is noticeable among men who begin to have receding hairlines beginning at the forehead.
- Loose hair: is a condition where hair can be easily pulled out without strong effort. Handful of hair may be uprooted by even a simple act of combing it, washing or even with gentle tugging. This type usually causes overall thinning of the hair and is usually temporary.
- Patchy or circular balding spots: a condition where people lose hair and leave bald spots on the scalp or circular patches. It is usually accompanied by itchiness or may become inflamed before hair falls out.
- Ringworm: Yes ringworm can manifest on the scalp too where scaly patches over the scalp is usually a sign for ringworm. It may be accompanied by broken hair where there is reddening of the scalp that may have swelling and at times, some oozing.
- Full body hair loss: This condition is usually due to medical treatments the patient undergoes through. Radiation treatment or chemotherapy for cancer patients can cause hair loss not only for the head but all over the body. The hair usually grows back with time after treatment has ended.
Hair Loss Treatment Options
If you find that your hair loss problem isn’t going away or is not growing back, there are hair loss treatment options you may be able to try, such as:
- Minoxidil – an over-the-counter available as a liquid or foam that you rub on your scalp to stop hairs from thinning and stimulate hair growth
- Finasteride – comes in pill form that you take daily and can only be available with a prescription. We will discuss Finasteride in more detail in the next section.
- Using special brushes, combs
- Handheld devices that emit laser light on your scalp to stimulate hair growth
- Hair transplantation
Finasteride and its Side Effects
Finasteride was first granted FDA approval in 1997 and sold under the brand name Propecia and comes in tablet form. The prescription drug was introduced in the market as a treatment for enlarged prostate and male pattern hair loss. It is also sold under the brand name Proscar.
As an enlarged prostate treatment option, finasteride works by decreasing the amount of DHT or dihydrotestosterone in the body. Too much DHT causes your prostate to grow larger. Taking finasteride has another positive effect, it has been found to cause increased hair growth on the head among men taking the drug.
A single dose of finasteride may not cause drowsiness, however, it can cause other side effects.
The common side effects of finasteride intake are:
- Decreased sex drive
- Problems in maintaining an erection
- Ejaculation disorder
- Tenderness and increase in breast size
- Skin rash
These are mild side effects and may disappear or resolve themselves within a few days to a couple of weeks. If they however become more severe and do not go away, it would be best to see your doctor.
Finasteride may also induce serious side effects and allergic reactions. It is advised that you must get in touch with your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
- If your lips, tongue, throat, or face swells
- If you have trouble breathing
- If you have lumps or you feel pain in your breasts
- If you have nipple discharge
Can I prevent hair loss?
The answer to this is both a yes or a no. It’s a no if the direct cause of your hair loss is due to hereditary factors or genetics. You may however try steps to slow down the process to prevent further loss of hair.
For other causes, there are things you could do to prevent further hair loss, such as: avoid stress on the hair by tying it too tightly or hairstyles that apply too much pressure on your hair. Eating a well balanced diet that includes iron and protein helps a lot.
Use gentle shampoos and avoid hair products with strong chemicals in them. Always pat your hair dry and avoid rubbing it. Use heated hair styling tools such as blow dryers, heated combs, hair irons sparingly and carefully, these things can burn your scalp.
If the cause of your hair loss is determined to be hereditary in nature, it may be more difficult to treat but there may be ways of slowing it down or maybe even stopping it. In some cases, hair loss treatment can be very effective in stopping or even reversing the condition, specifically if it has been mainly caused by an underlying medical condition.
Thinning hair and hair loss are normal processes of our bodies though it may be distressing for many, if not most, who are undergoing it. Learn what is best for you and what suits you to minimize your thinning or balding head. Now chin up and stop looking at the floor.
Are you losing your hair? See your available options and we’ll do our best to help you out.