Balding in your 20s: Is it normal?

Hair loss and hair thinning in men is actually incredibly common. About 70 per cent of men do.

Written by
Stephanie Anderson
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
May 26, 2022
8
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So you're in your 20s, and you've started to notice that something's going on with your hair.

Maybe you're seeing more hair on your pillow in the morning, on your hairbrush or in your shower drain. Maybe you're noticing that your hairline seems to be inching its way back, or just isn't quite as full as you remember it being.

Is it normal to be losing hair in your 20s? For the most part, yes. Hair loss and hair thinning in men is actually incredibly common, with up to 70 per cent of men losing their hair at some point.

One study found that 16 per cent of men between 18 and 29 were affected by "moderate to extensive hair loss", and that the statistics climbed with age. 53 per cent of men between 40 and 49 were found to experience hair loss.

If it's stressing you out, or you feel like you're too young to be dealing with this, don't worry. In most cases, hair loss at a young age can be treated (and we can help!).

In this article, we'll break down everything you need to know about hair loss in your 20s, from what's normal and what's not, to the early signs of hair loss, the possible causes, and how to deal with it.

Is thinning hair normal in your 20s?

While most men experience some degree of hair loss in their lives, it can be confronting when it happens in your 20s.

It's normal to lose about 50 to 100 strands of hair a day, but if you're losing more than this, noticing thinning hair, a receding hairline or even bald patches, it may be a red flag that something else is going on.

One recent, self-reported study of Chinese university students found that of the 4,000 students who participated, 60 per cent were experiencing some degree of hair loss.

There have also been reports that millennials are losing their hair at an earlier age than previous generations, due to high-stress levels.

So is your hair loss normal, or something that requires attention? Let's look at the signs that are cause for concern.

Signs of early hair loss in men

Knowing the symptoms of different types of hair loss can help you determine what type of hair loss you're experiencing, and what you can do about it. The Mayo Clinic reports that there are five different symptoms of early hair loss.

  • Gradual hair thinning: The most common type of hair loss, this overall hair thinning becomes more prevalent as you age. Thinning hair can also be combined with a receding hairline, so it's important to keep an eye on your hairline. The easiest way to keep track of this is to take a look at some old photos and compare them to current ones.
  • Sudden loosening of hair: This is where you'll see handfuls of hair coming out, either on the pillow when you wake up, on your hairbrush or in the drain.
  • Full-body hair loss: This will usually happen as a result of medical conditions and/or medical treatments.
  • Circular or patchy bald spots: These can appear on the scalp, beard or eyebrows, and may be accompanied by itchy or painful skin.
  • Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp: This is a sign of ringworm, which requires medical treatment.

Causes of hair loss in young people

There are many different reasons you could find yourself balding in your 20s, which vary in the level to which they can be treated.

While some forms of hair loss can be temporary or treated fairly easily, others can be permanent. Still, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. There are still ways to prevent further balding and prolong the life of your hair.

Here are the main causes of hair loss in young people.

Male pattern baldness

Androgenetic alopecia, aka male pattern baldness, is one of the most common causes of hair loss and balding in your 20s. A genetic condition that's impacted by hormonal factors, male pattern baldness usually begins in your 20s or 30s.

Medline Plus reports that "baldness occurs when the hair follicles shrink over time, resulting in shorter and finer hair. Eventually, the follicle does not grow new hair."

While male pattern baldness creates permanent hair loss, there are still ways to treat it, if you act quickly.

Stress, anxiety and trauma

Stress-related hair loss is a condition known as telogen effluvium (TE). It happens around three or four months after a period of severe stress or a traumatic event.

It can also be brought on by chronic anxiety. It looks like widespread hair thinning that affects the whole scalp as you shed hair rapidly.

The good news is that telogen effluvium can be temporary and correct itself in time. The bad news is that it can kickstart more permanent hair loss, like male pattern baldness.

Nutritional deficiencies

When we eat, our bodies prioritise what bodily functions need the nutrients the most. Because our hair isn't one of our vital organs or functions, it's pretty low on the priority list.

If you're noticing hair loss, it could be a red flag for poor nutrition and a number of nutritional deficiencies.

A healthy, balanced diet can help to prevent brittle hair shafts, dryness and dandruff — all of which can contribute to hair loss and hair damage.

Physical damage to the scalp

Certain hairstyles, like cornrows or braids, or having extensions in, can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. It can also occur through consistent use of styling tools like straighteners, especially when used at high temperatures.

Medications

Some medications can cause or contribute to hair loss. These include the medications used in chemotherapy, as well as lithium, beta-blockers, warfarin, heparin, amphetamines and levodopa.

Weight loss

Crash dieting, weight loss surgery, or any other rapid weight loss can put the body under a lot of stress, which can trigger telogen effluvium.

Alcohol

Although moderate consumption of alcohol is nothing to worry about, heavy drinking or alcohol abuse can trigger hair loss and other health conditions.

Smoking

Smoking increases the likelihood of experiencing male pattern baldness.

Medical conditions

There are several medical conditions that can contribute to or cause hair loss. These include autoimmune diseases like lupus and alopecia areata, thyroid disease like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, hormone imbalances, and fungal scalp infections like ringworm.

When you have a consultation with a Pilot doctor, they take the causes of your thinning hair into consideration before creating your personalised hair loss treatment.

What is the difference between thinning hair and receding hair?

When it comes to hair loss and balding, it can happen in a few different ways, primarily thinning hair, a receding hairline, or both.

If you're noticing that your hairline is inching back toward the crown of your scalp, that's receding hair. This will usually begin at the temples and then move across the entire hairline.

A receding hairline is a common symptom of male pattern baldness.

In a receding hairline, the hair follicles are becoming dormant and dying off, and this can be difficult to reverse, so it's important to act quickly.

On the other hand, thinning hair occurs all over the scalp. You may notice that your hair isn't as dense or thick as it used to be, and your scalp may become visible through your hair.

This kind of diffuse hair loss can be the result of male pattern baldness, as well as telogen effluvium, medical conditions, medications, nutritional deficiencies and more. Depending on the cause, this type of hair loss may be temporary or reversible.

Can hair grow back on its own?

In short, it really depends on what's causing your hair loss. If you've just been through an especially stressful or traumatic event, it's possible your hair growth will resume of its own accord.

Likewise, if your hair loss has been caused by a nutritional deficiency, changes to your diet and lifestyle may correct your hair loss and promote healthy hair growth.

On the other hand, if you're dealing with male pattern baldness, your hair isn't able to grow back on its own.

If you're unsure what's causing your hair loss, think back on the past three months and consider if you've been under an unusual amount of stress, or made any big changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Regardless of what's causing your hair loss, it's still best to seek advice from a Pilot doctor to come up with a personalised treatment plan.

When it comes to hair loss, the best treatment is early intervention and prevention.

How to treat hair loss in your 20s

Depending on what's causing your hair loss, there are ways you can treat hair loss at home with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter products. In some situations, though, prescription medications and medical treatments are required.

Some ways you can treat hair loss in your 20s at home are:

  • Cut back on drinking
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Address any stress and anxiety in your life
  • Use a hair loss shampoo: Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner are designed to promote healthy hair growth and lay the groundwork for thicker, healthier, and happier hair follicles
  • Use a hair loss vitamin supplement: Pilot's Biotin Hair Gummies support the synthesis of Keratin, the protective protein that makes up your hair (and makes it stronger and less prone to damage)

If you suspect that you're dealing with male pattern baldness, or are experiencing moderate to extensive hair loss, your best bet is to seek medical advice, though.

At Pilot, we offer hair loss treatment plans that have been designed by Dr. Russell Knudsen, a leading Australian hair loss expert.

With over 35 years of experience, Dr. Knudsen's hair treatment plan has great success rates, with over 80 per cent of patients retaining their hair.

The key to Pilot's success (and yours!) is our individualised approach to hair regrowth. We believe that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to treating hair loss. Instead, we're all about making sure that each person gets the right ingredients, in the right amounts, specific to their hair loss.

Remember that time is of the essence when it comes to hair loss.

Photo Credit: Levi's

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