Let's face it: hair loss isn't the hottest topic of conversation. If the idea of bringing it up over beers at the pub gets you hot under the collar, you're not alone.
But the truth is that hair loss is more common than you think. In fact, most men will experience some sort of hair loss during their lifetime.
There is a stack of reasons why hair loss can happen, from hereditary hair loss or hair loss as a result of medical treatment. Plus, it affects blokes differently, from rapid hair loss to slow hair loss.
We're here to ditch the awkward talk about hair loss and confront the issue head-on (no pun intended). We're diving into all things hair loss, how it happens, the stages of hair loss and balding and a rundown of your treatment options.
How does hair grow?
You're born with around 5 million hair follicles on your body . This is where your skin is covered with tiny, hair-producing holes, known as hair follicles. At the bottom of each hair follicle is a root where the hair grows out, made up of proteins.
Small blood vessels in the skin give the hair root nutrients, which enable cell growth, eventually pushing through to the surface of the skin . Along the way, your hair will pass by oil glands which help to make it shiny and soft.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness, can be caused by a variety of reasons from your genetics to medical issues. In some cases, you might experience temporary hair loss, while in others you might encounter permanent hair loss.
Let's dive into some common causes of hair loss.
Your genetics is one of the most common reasons for hair loss. It's usually referred to as hereditary hair loss otherwise known as male pattern baldness .
Hereditary baldness tends to get increasingly worse with age but generally starts at around 30 years old. How fast baldness starts to develop is down to your genetics.
So how exactly do genetics affect hair loss? Well, your genes determine your scalp's sensitivity to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — which shortens the growth phase of your hair (which is the first stage in your hair cycle) and begins to deteriorate your hair follicles.
Hair follicles become smaller and smaller in response to DHT, which in turn, means you're producing thinner and less hair.
One cause of hair loss comes as a result of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation which can cause most, if not all of your hair to fall out.
Hormonal changes, lupus thyroid issues, and problems with your immune system are medical conditions that can also cause hair loss .
Plus, there are less common medical conditions that can lead to hair loss, such as trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) .
This is a mental health disorder that involves irresistible urges to pull out your hair, which can result in temporary or even permanent hair loss.
Side effects of medications
Certain medications can produce negative side effects, including hair loss . Medications that can cause hair loss include those used to treat high blood pressure, depression, cancer, heart problems and arthritis.
Stressful life events or experiencing consistent long-term stress can cause temporary hair loss and hair thinning.
Not getting the right essential nutrients like zinc, iron, vitamin D and protein can affect your hair growth.
Eating a balanced diet packed with the right vitamins and nutrients can be a simple lifestyle shift to ensure you're fuelling your body with everything it needs to produce a healthy head of hair.
How common is hair loss in men?
Hair loss in men is more common than you think. Around 70% of men will experience hair loss as they get older .
Androgenetic alopecia (AGA for short) or male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss disorder in men, affecting approximately 1 in 5 men in their 20s, 1 in 3 in their 30s, and 1 in 2 men in their 40s .
Hair loss in men has also been shown to affect Caucasian men in higher numbers . On the flip side, Asian men have been shown to experience the lowest prevalence of hair loss.
What are the stages of male pattern baldness?
Since hair loss in men is quite common, the Norwood Scale was developed by James Hamilton and later revised by a dermatologist, Dr O'Tar Norwood to help men in understanding how severe their hair loss is .
The Norwood Scale classifies male pattern hair loss into seven distinct stages from mild to receded hairline.
Stage 1: Mild and unnoticeable hair loss
Stage one generally includes minimal hair loss around the temples and doesn't include hair loss around the rest of the head.
In stage one, there isn't much you need to do. However, if you're concerned or know you are genetically predisposed to hair loss, you can make some lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and increasing your protein and iron intake to avoid further hair loss.
Stage 2: Thinning hair and an M-shaped hairline
In the second stage, you may begin to notice your hairline has receded near your temples and sideburns and may form a V or M-like shape.
Once you've reached this stage, you've got a far better chance of treating hair loss, so you may want to look into your treatment options.
Stage 3: Hairline recession and visible balding
This stage usually comes with more noticeable balding, where a deeper and receding hairline will start to create M, U, or V shapes. The Norwood Scale classifies this stage as the balding stage and you may begin to notice bald patches and thinning hair on the crown of the head.
Stage 4: Significant hair loss at the back of your head
Here is where large bald patches being to come out and men may only see a thin ring of hair on the crown. It's pretty common for men to have a thick band of hair that separates their hairline from bald patches on the crown, too.
Once you reach this stage, it's likely hair loss will continue to progress so taking action and finding the right treatment option is your best bet (more on that in a minute).
Stage 5: U-shaped or horseshoe hairline
This stage generally comes with losing most of your hair and can appear like a horseshoe shape. The band of hair that separates your hairline tends to get thinner and thinner.
If you're looking for hair regrowth treatments, you'll probably want to jump on it now.
Stage 6: Bald scalp and large, visible bald patches
Here, men start to lose most of the hair that makes up the hairline and vertex scalp. Thin hairs may still be present, but generally, the scalp is pretty visible.
Stage 7: Hairline has receded to the crown
The final stage of hair loss is the most severe, and aside from a few thin hairs, you would have probably lost all of your hair.
Is there a pill you can take for hair loss?
We know it can be pretty daunting if you're experiencing hair loss, particularly after reading all the different stages of hair loss you may navigate.
But, the good news is that there are a bunch of hair growth options out there. Pilot's personalised hair loss treatment uses clinically proven hair loss medication, judgment-free treatment, and discreet delivery to help you keep and regrow your hair.
Pilot uses two different types of medications used for male pattern hair loss and balding treatment, both clinically proven. One is an oral medication that works by blocking the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT (the main cause of hair loss).
The other medication provides stimulation and increases blood flow around your hair follicles which stimulates hair growth.
Our personalised hair loss treatments cover different types of hair loss including, balding, thinning hair, receding hairlines, and use personalised hair loss treatment because we understand no two people are the same.
Are there any side effects of hair loss treatments?
Like all prescription medication, side effects can happen but it generally only occurs in a small percentage of men. The potential side effects of hair loss pills can include:
- Irritation to the scalp
- Unwanted hair growth on the body
- Mild cases of erectile dysfunction: this only occurs in 2% of men and the side effects aren't permanent, usually disappearing once treatment is finished
- Burning or irritation to the eye.
How effective are hair loss pills?
Hair loss pills have a pretty high effectiveness rate. We know that these pills help 83% of men keep their hair, while 66% will regrow their hair and only 2% of men will experience side effects.
So what can you expect when you start hair loss pills? Well, in the first three months, active ingredients from the medications begin to work straight away, and fine hair may fall out, but this is to make way for new hair growth. Alternatively, some men may experience less hair loss and thicker hair growth.
Within 6 months, hair loss may have stopped, patchy hair loss becomes less noticeable and hair regrowth becomes thicker and stronger.
After 9 months, hair continues to grow longer and stronger, the hairline becomes more defined and healthy hair is present again.
Are there any alternatives to treat hair loss?
While hair loss pills might not be for everyone, there are plenty of other non-prescription and non-invasive treatments on the market. Pilot's Hair Growth Booster Kit can provide an alternative to medical treatments such as hair loss pills or can be used in combination with medications for an extra boost.
Derma rollers and biotin (vitamin B7) hair gummies support the fibres your hair follicles need to stimulate hair growth.
If you're unsure what options might be right for you, Pilot's practitioners can help you discover what treatment plan will suit you and your body.
When it comes to navigating hair loss, you don't have to grin and bear it alone. There are plenty of options for hair loss treatment and a bunch of lifestyle changes you can make in the earlier stages to prevent hair loss.