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Why do men lose their hair and go bald?

Why do men lose their hair and go bald

Did you know that it’s normal to lose up to 100 hairs each day?

This often goes unnoticed, as it usually grows back. When it doesn’t grow back, or when you start noticing lots of hair falling out, it’s natural to feel concerned. Hair loss affects each man differently; some men view hair loss as a natural part of the ageing process, whereas other men can feel a loss of self-esteem as a result of hair loss. In this article we explain why hair loss might happen:

Temporary hair loss

Hair loss, in general, can either be temporary or permanent and can occur in patches or as complete baldness. Temporary hair loss can be caused by stress, illness, cancer treatments, weight loss or low levels of nutrients, such as iron. If you want to include more iron in your diet it can be found in high levels in red meat, green leafy vegetables and pulses. Usually, in these instances, when the illness has resolved the hair grows back. 

Permanent hair loss

Male pattern balding, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of permanent hair loss in men. This type of hair loss usually has no warning or physical symptoms, like itching or rashes. The appearance of the scalp remains completely normal. Hair loss of this kind usually occurs slowly over many years, but it can vary between different men.

Andro comes from the Greek word anēr, meaning man. Androgens are a group of hormones which are associated mostly with male sexual development but actually are present in women too. One androgen, known as dihydrotestosterone, is particularly involved in sexual development and hair growth. The normal process of hair growth involves an active phase of hair production by specialised cells on the scalp which usually lasts between 3 and 6 years. This is followed by a quiet, dormant phase. During normal hair growth, the dormant cells are replaced by active cells and this cycle starts again. This process happens seamlessly without you noticing. 

We now know that, as a result of genetics, some people’s hair follicles are more sensitive to the activity of the androgenic hormones. In these men, the hormone levels are normal but the hair-producing cells on the scalp are more affected by them. The hair follicles shrink, produce lighter and thinner hair and eventually stop producing hair. Over time, the active growth phase becomes shorter and the dormant hair cells are no longer replaced by active cells.

The British Association of Dermatologists report that androgenetic alopecia affects 50% of men over 50 years old and becomes increasingly common with age. 80% of men with this type of hair loss have a close family member with baldness. It can be inherited from either parent, therefore it is known as a genetic condition. Different populations are affected by male pattern balding at different rates. For example, Caucasian men are more likely to be affected, whereas Chinese and Japanese men are affected less commonly by hair loss.

If you want to read more about hair loss treatments and their effectiveness, head here.