We often hear that hair thinning is a sign of aging. But what if it strikes you in your early 20s or 30s? Male hair loss is very common, and men tend to lose hair faster than women. However, the current generation of young males is also experiencing hair loss (medically known as alopecia) very early in their lives. Let’s take a deeper look at the causes of thinning hair in young males and the best ways to manage them!
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Hair Thinning in Young Males?
Though around 85% of men lose hair by the time they turn 70, around one-fourth of them begin losing their hair when they turn 21. There can be several reasons for hair thinning in young males. Some of them are discussed here:
The male pattern of baldness is known to occur due to genetic reasons. An increase in DHT or dihydrotestosterone (derived from testosterone) shrinks the hair follicles. An imbalance in the levels of DHT can interrupt the growth cycle of hair. Research states that hair follicles of young men under 25 are more sensitive to DHT. It results in longer rest periods of hair follicles that prevent the hair from growing.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune cells attack hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. A few other autoimmune diseases associated with this condition are lupus and dermatomyositis. In the case of alopecia areata, steroid creams and medications can help restore hair growth, but hair loss may recur.
Male pattern baldness also called androgenetic alopecia, has a strong genetic link. It usually appears as an M, V, or U-shaped pattern and begins as a gradual balding at the crown. Though balding usually begins mid-adulthood, many young men may experience this during their teenage or early adulthood. If you have a close family member with male pattern baldness, you are more likely to develop it.
Symptoms of Hair Loss in Young Men
Young men experience hair loss symptoms similar to those of older men. Here are the first signs of hair thinning in young men:
- Gradual thinning of hair on the top of the head
- The recession of the hairline
- Patchy bald spots
- Slowly progressive hair loss that results in complete balding
Hair Loss: Why It's Happening to Millennials?
Earlier, hair loss was often equated with increasing age. However, more millennial men are complaining of hair thinning and increased hair loss.
According to 2018 research conducted in China, the current generation is losing hair earlier and going bald sooner than the generation before them. Neurological factors like hectic lifestyles, stress at work, study, or home, sleeplessness, and irregular lifestyle habits and patterns have been cited to be the causative factor in over 60% of hair loss cases. Apart from the reasons discussed above, here are a few other factors leading to a more frequent occurrence of hair loss in millennials:
Youngsters today lead very hectic and stressful lives. Stress is omnipresent in the lives of millennials from a young age and can result in the development of hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases, both of which add to the increase in hair loss.
A significant amount of stress, especially when chronic, pushes a large number of hair follicles into the resting phase. After a few months, you may notice hair fall when you wash or comb your hair. Stress-related hair fall is also called telogen effluvium. Stress management techniques can help bring out hair follicles from this resting phase and regrow.
Here’s how stress can lead to hair loss in millennials:
- Your hair goes through four stages of growth: anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen before it falls off. It is normal to experience a loss of 50 to 100 hair every day.
- Stress interrupts the hair's normal lifecycle by moving it out of the growth (or anagen) phase quickly.
- When the hair enters the catagen and telogen phase prematurely, they fall out in large numbers.
There is plenty of evidence that the current generation of millennials has more stress than their previous generations and finds it challenging to find effective stress coping mechanisms.
Another essential factor that may be a major contributor to your hair loss is diet. The growing trend of crash dieting can contribute more to hair loss. Severely reduced protein consumption and deficiency of nutrients like zinc, vitamin D, and others can promote hair loss.
Men undergoing sudden weight loss or a marked decrease in protein intake may notice hair thinning and loss. Over-supplementing nutrients like vitamins A and E, selenium, etc may also result in hair loss. It is best to undergo blood tests to find the root cause of hair loss before treating it.
Too much hair care
Today’s millennial men are more hair aware than most generations before them. Looking and feeling good is integral to your nature and societal demand, leading to greater maintenance and treatments. Excessive use of chemicals to bleach, colour or style your hair is another major contributing factor to increased hair loss.
How to Stop Hair Fall?
It is natural for you to panic and lose confidence when experiencing hair fall. If you are experiencing hair fall or notice your hair thinning in specific patches on your head, you should visit a dermatologist. To treat hair fall effectively and to help them regrow, identifying the cause is essential.
Here are a few male hair thinning treatment options that are commonly used:
- Medications: Two popular medications that you can use for treating and stopping hair fall are minoxidil and finasteride. Both of these are prescription medications.
- Minoxidil: Minoxidil is a popular medication used in treating hair loss. This medication is available in liquid and foam forms. You can apply it directly to the scalp to treat male pattern baldness.This drug increases the blood flow to the scalp and stimulates hair follicles to stay in the growth or anagen phase of the hair lifecycle. Several studies worldwide have proven that minoxidil helps improve hair growth, even in men experiencing male baldness.
- Finasteride: Unlike minoxidil, finasteride works by blocking the production of DHT (the hormone that causes male pattern baldness) or stimulating hair growth. Existing research states that using a typical finasteride dosage can reduce serum DHT levels by over 70%.
- Hair Care Products: Your dermatologist may recommend shifting to gentler hair care products that stimulate hair follicles and protect them from the harmful effects of DHT. You can choose from a wide range of medicated or non-medicated hair loss prevention shampoos and hair oils that may contain other components like ketoconazole (which has antifungal properties to treat dandruff), herbs like Saw Palmetto and other actives.
- Nutritional Supplements: If your dermatologist suspects your hair loss to be a consequence of nutritional deficiency or an excess of them, they will prescribe a few blood tests to confirm. If you are deficient in nutrients like vitamins A, E or biotin, your doctor will prescribe suitable supplements to stop hair growth and stimulate follicles to grow new, healthy hair.
- Avoiding Chemicals and Heat Treatments: In most cases of hair loss in men, dermatologists recommend discontinuing chemicals and other heat treatments on hair and scalp to reduce their physical and chemical stressors. If you are experiencing hair fall, it may help to avoid salon treatments until the condition is under control and your hair loss has stopped.
Can Hair Loss Be Reversed?
The worries of most men experiencing male pattern baldness do not end at ‘how to stop hair loss?’. One of the most common questions young men have regarding hair loss is, “can it be reversed?’ To answer this question, dermatologists and trichologists diagnose and grade your hair loss pattern into one of the seven stages as per the Hamilton-Norwood scale.
Hair loss is treatable for men who fall between stages 1 to 4 and can be reversed with appropriate measures. If you fall under stages 5 to 7 on the Hamilton-Norwood scale, a hair transplant is the best option for you.
Since several factors contribute to male pattern baldness and hair loss in men, we at Traya Health believe that hair fall can only be treated by creating a customized solution for the specific type of hair fall the person has. The root cause of hair fall must be addressed before treating it to see positive results. We offer doctor-backed solutions to individual patients since the one-size-fits-all approach cannot work for hair loss treatment.
Though most men are usually prepared to lose hair as they age, it can come as a shock when they begin losing chunks of their hair or notice a rapidly receding hairline in the prime of their youth. We understand how distressing it can be to lose your crowning glory early in life.
We believe that hair loss treatments must be customized for each individual after evaluating the causative factors. The earlier you seek medical treatment, the better the effect and results.
Need help treating your hair loss? Visit our experts for more information and effective treatment today!