What causes hair loss in men?
Around 95% of hair loss in men in the US is male pattern baldness. This is caused the genes you inherit from your parents. The majority of men who suffer this hair loss are unhappy with it. They would like to do something to change the situation. In order to decide the best treatment for hair loss it is necessary to understand why it is happening.
What you actually inherit are hair follicles which are particularly sensitive to DHT. This is a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone. These hair follicles become smaller and live for a shorter time as they are exposed to DHT. Eventually they stop producing hairs.
Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of an enzyme. This is held in a hair follicle’s oil glands. Scientists now believe that it’s not the amount of circulating testosterone that’s the problem. It is the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.
Hair at the temples and the front and top of the scalp are most sensitive. This leads to a receding hairline and crown baldness.
In these cases the best treatment for hair loss will be something to block the action of DHT.
What causes hair loss in women?
Women can suffer from female pattern baldness. This is caused in exactly the same way as male pattern baldness. Women with this tend to suffer from all over thinning of the hair. They do not show the receding pattern seen in men.
Here also the best treatment for hair loss will be to bock the action of DHT.
Can hair loss be treated?
In order for the follicles to shrink and cease producing hair they need to be exposed to DHT for a long time. Today there are treatments which will slow or stop this process. This is the best treatment for hair loss caused by DHT. It is important to treat hair loss early. The closer the follicle is to its original state the easier it is to reverse the process.
Even the best treatment for hair loss will not act overnight or even in a few days. It generally takes around 4 to 6 months to see results. Once results are seen then changes can happen quite quickly.
It is important to note that for the changes to remain you must continue to use the product.
What is the best treatment for hair loss?
As stated above, for hair loss caused by DHT then the best treatment for hair loss will be to block that action of DHT.
There are two pharmaceutical treatments which have been clinically proven to treat hair loss and promote hair regrowth. And both of them work by lowering DHT levels:
- Finasteride was developed to treat men who had problems with enlarged prostate glands. Hair growth was seen as a side effect. It has since been further developed to treat hair loss. This treatment is in the form of tablets or capsules which are swallowed. This is one of the best treatment for hair loss but is usually only available on prescription.
- Minoxidil was also originally a medicine which was taken internally to treat high blood pressure. Again hair growth – often in unexpected places – was seen as a side effect. It was soon discovered that Minoxidil could be applied as a liquid and was successful in reversing hair loss. Several products containing Minoxidil are available to buy without prescription. This is the best treatment for hair loss of this kind which is available to buy without a prescription. For details see our interactive chart.
What other treatments are there?
It depends what you are trying to achieve. If your hair is thinner and you want it to be or appear to be thicker then the best treatment for hair loss may be to use products which thicken and strengthen the hair.
You can also get products which add keratin fibers to fill in gaps in the hair. These usually come in a variety of colors to match your natural hair colour.
If you think your diet may be missing in vital nutrients you can take vitamin and mineral supplements. Some are specially formulated to give those nutrients which are most important to good hair growth. You can also get products which apply essential nutrients directly to the scalp. Either of these may be part of the best treatment for hair loss.
There are also shampoos which promote hair growth and protect the scalp. These may also aid the absorbtion of minodoxil products.
The best treatment for hair loss for YOU may not be one product or treatment but a combination of two or three.
Does diet play a part?
If you have a full and varied diet then each part of your body will be capable of optimum performance. Including your hair. For information about what to include see Top 7 Foods to Prevent Hair Loss. If you have gaps in your nutrition then it is possible that vitamin and mineral supplements may help you achieve optimum nutrition. In that case they will be part of the best treatment for hair loss.
Studies have shown that poor nutrition, a limited food intake and deficiencies in certain nutrients can cause hair thinning. These include deficiencies in biotin, protein, zinc and iron. A diet high in animal fats (often found in fast food) can also have an effect on hair growth.
If you are not eating what your hair needs to grow well then even the best hair growth products will not be successful.
Other main causes of hair loss
1. Telogen Effluvium (TE)
Effluvium means that the hair is being shed. Normal hair follicles go through a growth cycle of two or more years then enter a resting (telogen) phase. At any one time in normal hair around 80 – 90% of hair follicles are growing hair while 10 – 20% are resting. If these numbers change dramatically then much more hair than usual is shed and hair may look much thinner. This is usually more noticeable on the top of the scalp than at the back or sides. It does not lead to a receding hair-line.
TE is usually fully reversible. It is usually a case of finding the trigger and removing that trigger eg stress, poor diet, illness or certain drugs. If this is possible then it is the best treatment for hair loss of this kind.
Where the trigger cannot be identified or removed Minoxidil can be very effective in treating the problem.
2. Alopecia Areata
Around 2% of people – men, women and children – will suffer from this problem at sometime in their lives. It is not infectious but is believed to be an auto-immune response. This is where the immune system begins to attack the body’s own hair follicles.
This leads to well defined circular patches of hair loss. If only one or two patches develop then this will usually clear up unassisted within two years. But for some people the loss is more extensive and can last much longer.
This kind of hair loss can come about very suddenly and be very distressing.
The best treatment for this kind of hair loss may include corticosteroid creams, injections or tablets.
3. Hair Shaft Defects
These can be caused by repeated use of a hair-style which puts too much stress on the hair. Repeatedly pulling back very tightly for instance. Aggressive brushing or back-combing can have the same effect.
By far the most common cause is over-processing by perming, straightening, bleaching and dyeing the hair. This can lead to irreversible damage to the hair fibre so that it becomes very weak and breaks off.
The best treatment for hair loss of this kind is for whatever has caused the damage to be stopped and hair treated very gently until it recovers.
For more detailed information about hair loss see the American Hair Loss Association website
By +Liz Chapman