mhn news & blog

February 10, 2013

Why Men Lose Their Hair

Androgenetic Alopecia

Pattern baldness owes its existence to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is made by the action of an enzyme, 5-alpha reductase, on the hormone testosterone. DHT finds its way to genetically at-risk hair follicles primarily in the front and top of the scalp.

Hair is lost when:

• DHT shortens the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle and increases the telogen (resting) phase.
• Because the anagen phase is shortened, hair follicles shrink with each completed growth cycle.
• The shrunken follicles produce hair that is finer and shorter than normal.
• Over time, the hair becomes so fine and short it disappears.

The age at which the hair loss starts depends on an individual's blood level of testosterone and on their genetic makeup. Men losing their hair often notice periods of rapid hair loss sandwiched between periods of slow or minimal loss. The reason for this is not known.


As men age some of their hair shafts lose length and width. Each follicle unit can then contain both full-sized and miniaturized hair. This can happen anywhere on the scalp and is why hair appears thinner as people age. Eventually, the mini-hairs stop growing and the follicle population diminishes.

Men with androgenetic alopecia typically retain hair on the back and sides of their head until well into their senior years.

Alopecia Areata

Having a circular smooth bald spot on the scalp might indicate alopecia areata. This type of alopecia is an autoimmune skin disease. It can spread over the scalp to cause complete baldness (alopecia totalis) and can also cause total body hair loss (alopecia universalis). It is an unpredictable and cyclical disease; hair may grow back at any time but also shed again.

Alopecia Areata frequently occurs in otherwise healthy individuals. Hair is lost when the immune system attacks their hair follicles. Distressed follicles shrink and hair production slows down. It can begin at any age and affects both genders. Although it is not life threatening, the condition causes emotional and psychological distress to sufferers.

This type of hair loss often occurs to those that have family members with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, and type 1 diabetes but this is not a contagious disease.

Fungal Infections

The white blood cells your body sends out to fight a fungal infection might also do damage to your hair follicles. The hair loss that results often appears as scaly, circular bald patches but may also occur as widespread dryness and scaling. Occasionally it shows up as small pimples on the scalp.

Fungal infections are usually passed from person to person but can come from contact with infected animals as well. A visit to the doctor is recommended since these infections do not fade away without treatment.

Nutrient Deficiency

Some men experience temporary hair loss resulting from a diet low in iron, biotin, or zinc. Visit your primary care doctor and have blood work done to determine if your hair loss is due to a vitamin deficiency. Your doctor may advise you to eat more broccoli, spinach, and eggs if a deficiency in nutrients is found. A regular diet consisting of greens, fruit, protein sources, and whole grains should supply the nutrients required for healthy hair growth.

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Treatment and Hair Restoration

Proven hair loss treatments for androgenetic alopecia or male pattern hair loss are: Low Level Laser Hair Therapy, Minoxidil and Propecia. These treatments can be effective if hair loss is caught and treated early.

If treatment is no longer an option the alternative is hair restoration. These options include hair replacement systems, hair extensions, hair pieces and hair transplant surgery. To learn what option is best for your hair loss condition consult with a reputable and experienced hair loss professional.


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