Hair loss affects most men at some point in their lives, but for some, thinning hair can begin in the teenage years, before they've graduated from high school.
The teenage years can be an especially tricky period, but add hair loss to the equation and it can become even more challenging.
While most men and women will lose hair as they age, some go through hair loss when they’re still in adolescence – which can breed issues with self-esteem, confidence, body image and mental health.
It’s an undoubtedly stressful experience for any young person, but if you’re noticing hair loss yourself or know a teen who is, you’ll be very happy to hear that treating hair loss is very possible.
Here’s what you need to know about teenage hair loss, what causes it and how you can address it.
How common is hair loss in teens?
Typically, hair loss is experienced by men and women when they’re older.
85 per cent of men lose hair by age 50, and 66 per cent undergo hair loss or hair thinning by age 35.
Hair loss isn’t quite as common in females, but it’s estimated that fewer than 40 per cent of women will retain a full head of hair for their whole lives.
But what about when it comes to teens specifically? Among men, around a quarter will experience hair loss before they hit the age of 21. And 16 per cent of teenage boys between the ages of 15 and 17 will notice the first signs of male pattern baldness.
The statistics aren’t as clear with teenage girls, but it has been estimated that 12 per cent of females aged 20 to 29 will notice a certain degree of hair loss.
What are the causes of hair loss in teenage males and females?
There are numerous reasons why teenagers lose hair, ranging from hereditary to lifestyle factors.
Known as male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness – or by its technical name, androgenetic alopecia – genetic hair loss is a gradual process that follows a particular pattern.
The first signs of male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness can appear at any age, even in teenagehood.
Certain autoimmune conditions can make the body attack the hair follicles. One such condition is alopecia areata, whereby round bald spots emerge on the scalp.
The condition doesn’t discriminate: both teenage boys and girls can experience this kind of patchy hair loss.
Other autoimmune diseases that can trigger hair loss include lupus, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.
The teenage years are a time of huge change, not least in terms of hormones. Teenagers go through big surges in hormones, which can initiate hair thinning or hair loss, or even induce certain hormonal problems to crop up that lead to hair loss.
One such cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition among women where the body produces abnormally high amounts of male hormones.
While excessive hair growth is a common symptom of PCOS, so too are hair thinning and hair loss.
Whether it’s acne treatment, birth control, medication for certain medical conditions, or something else entirely, some forms of medication commonly taken by teens can initiate hair loss and thinning hair.
Here are a few medications that can cause hair loss:
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
- Acne medications
- Medications to treat a psychological disorder, such as antidepressants and mood stabilisers
- Thyroid disease medications
- Cholesterol treatments
Between school work, paid work, maintaining a social life and dealing with the general trials and tribulations of being a teenager, stress can easily build up. It also happens to be one of the major factors behind teen hair loss.
In very extreme – but also very rare – cases, uncontrolled stress can turn into a condition called trichotillomania, which involves compulsive hair pulling.
A poor diet can lead to shortages of certain nutrients. In teenagers, the most common nutritional deficiencies include zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B12 and D. Hair loss, thinning hair and unhealthy hair follicles are among the many issues that these deficiencies can cause.
Iron is another mineral that many teenagers, particularly young women, don’t get enough of. An iron deficiency can trigger hair loss, too, especially if it results in anemia.
Teenagers may also be lacking in certain nutrients if they’re not eating enough, experimenting with extreme dieting, or suffering an eating disorder such as anorexia. Hair loss on the head is one of the most common symptoms of anorexia.
Overstyling the hair
It goes without saying that the teen years are when many young people like to experiment with their personal style – including with their hair.
But pulling hair into a tight ponytail or braids, colouring it with bleach or chemical hair dyes, or using heat-styling tools such as straighteners, can damage the hair and cause it to break.
Tight hairstyles can also pull the hair back too much, resulting in hair loss or thinning hair around the hairline. This is called traction alopecia.
Can puberty cause hair loss in teens?
Puberty is a period of huge hormonal, physical and emotional changes in all genders. It affects all parts of the body – from a changing shape and the start of menstruation in women, to a deeper voice and significant height increase in young men.
It can also impact the hair. While many teenagers going through puberty see substantial hair growth, some may experience the first signs of pattern hair loss around this time. This is usually a result of hormonal fluctuations.
Common signs of hair loss in teenagers
Depending on the underlying cause, hair loss can emerge in a number of different ways. However, some of the typical signs of hair loss in teenagers include:
- Receding hairline. In men, male pattern baldness usually starts with a receding hairline and hair loss on the crown of the head
- Thinning hair around the parting. In women, female pattern baldness starts where the hair parts. Teenage girls experiencing the first signs of female pattern baldness may notice that their parting is widening as the hair falls out
- Hair thinning or bald patches on the scalp. The hair may appear thinner across certain parts of the scalp, or even the entire head, or small bald patches might appear
- Additional shedding. Everyone loses 50-100 hairs per day, but shedding even more than this can be a sign of hair loss. Excess hair may appear on the pillow upon waking up, in the drain during a shower or on a hairbrush
- Forming widow's peak. Some of us are born with a widow's peak. Others find they develop one as they mature in age. While a widow's peak doesn't mean you're losing your hair, it's wise to keep an eye out for a further recession in the hairline
Can you stop teenage hair loss?
It's no doubt a stressful event for teenagers, but the good news is that hair loss can be slowed down, stopped and even reversed – even if the cause is genetic, such as in androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness).
There are a number of fantastic and very effective hair loss treatments available, with many able to help stimulate hair growth and restore the head to its thick and lush self.
Here are some of the most popular ways to treat hair loss in teenagers:
Chatting to a doctor
Because many of the reasons behind teenage hair loss are rooted in health problems, talking to a doctor is always a great first step.
They’ll assess your situation and look at other symptoms you might be experiencing to either rule out or diagnose any underlying medical conditions.
A medical professional will also be able to advise you on the best path forward for dealing with your hair loss.
Medical hair loss treatments
Hair loss treatments, like those offered by Pilot, can be topical or oral. The two can also be combined to be more effective to prevent hair loss and even encourage hair regrowth.
A hair loss treatment plan made up of both topical and oral medication has a very impressive success rate: approximately 83 per cent of men end up keeping their hair, while 66 per cent actually regrow it.
Pilot's hair loss treatments are safe and effective, and have helped thousands of Aussie men find new confidence. Start your online consult today.
Hair loss shampoo
A dedicated hair-loss shampoo can do wonders for the health of your hair. Not only is it a more gentle option that protects the hair’s natural oils, but it can also improve the health of your hair follicles and fight hair loss.
Shop Pilot's hair growth shampoo and conditioner.
Reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet (or taking supplements to make up for nutritional deficiencies) and cutting back on damaging hairstyles can do a lot to fix up hair loss and maintain healthy hair growth.
Other frequently asked questions about teenage hair loss
Still have a few more questions around teenage hair loss, or need a bit more clarity? These answers might help.
Is it normal for a teenager to lose hair?
Most men and women lose a certain amount of their hair at some point in their lives.
Hair loss is most common in older people, but it can occur at any age, even in the teen years. So while it’s not as common for teenagers to lose their hair, it does happen much more than we think.
Is it normal for a teenager to lose hair every day?
As we know, people – including teenagers – can lose up to 100 hairs per day, and that is a normal amount.
But any more than this could be a sign of hair loss, so it’s best to chat to a medical professional who can guide you through potential treatments.
Is losing hair at 15 normal?
Hair loss is mostly experienced as people approach older age. However, some notice hair loss when they’re at a relatively young age – as young as 15 years old.
There’s not much information out there on teenage girls losing their hair at 15, but 16 per cent of men face hair loss between the ages of 15 and 17.
Coping with hair loss as a teenager
We totally get it: dealing with hair loss when you’re a teenager isn’t exactly pleasant. But know that your hair isn’t a reflection of you. It doesn’t change who you are, nor does it impact your value as a person. You still have a lot to offer the world.
And always remember that help is at hand. Whether you want to combat your hair loss or simply need someone to speak to, never be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend or family member, a mental health professional, or a trusted doctor.
Pilot's hair loss plans are personalised to each individual and are designed by leading hair loss experts in Australia.
Start your online consult to connect with an Aussie practitioner and find out your options.