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Why do men go bald? Exploring the hair loss causes and treatments

Good news — hair loss treatment is available that doesn't break the bank.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
Why do men go bald? Exploring the hair loss causes and treatments
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Whoever said hair isn't everything clearly had absolutely perfect hair throughout their entire life. The rest of us mere mortals, however, haven't had quite the same experience, with even medical professionals saying hair is "an important feature of self-image" [1].

As kids alone, there are bowl cuts, reckless (pre-pubescent Bieber-Esque) fringes, dodgy dye jobs, and the at-home hack job; all captured on camera.

And then as we age, there's the early greys, receding hairline, and yes — balding. Anyone can lose hair on their head, but it's more common in men than women [2]. If you're a guy who's starting to lose their hair, you might be chomping at the bit to blame your mum's dad, as the old belief goes.

We're going to delve into the causes of male baldness, and also take you through some treatments.

Because as the studies say, men who seek medical help and are successfully treated for male pattern hair loss report improvements in self-esteem and personal attractiveness [1].


So, one of the most common causes of baldness is hereditary hair loss with age [2]. Around 25% of bald men see signs of hair loss before they turn 21.

If you're yet to notice any thinning hair in the men in your life (but you've noticed it with your own hair), well, we can tell you half of the men in the world — yep, the whole wide world — will experience hair loss by the time they turn 50 [3].


Male pattern baldness — or androgenetic alopecia or androgenic alopecia — is the most common type of progressive hair loss disorder in men.

As the name suggests, it's genetically predisposed. It comes down to family history; if men in your family — your dad, grandad, a blood-related uncle or 2 — have male pattern baldness, you may find your hair goes the same way. And that's the men on both sides, genetics play a part on both sides.

In saying that though, your dad and uncle probably didn't have Pilot's hair loss treatment and our Hair Growth Booster Kit (sorry guys).

Interesting tidbit: identical twins with male pattern baldness will usually lose their hair identically. Same age, same rate, same pattern, everything [4].

Hormonal imbalances

Each strand of hair on your head sits in a tiny cavity in the skin — your hair follicles. Most often when baldness occurs, it's because those hair follicles shrink over time. You may notice shorter, finer hair. Eventually, no new strands grow from said hair follicles [5].

But what causes that process to happen? Hormonal imbalance — specifically, the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). What's DHT? Well, it's an androgenic hormone; a sex steroid that's produced in the gonads [6].

Excess hormone levels of it cause the miniaturisation of hair — the shrinking of follicles, and the thinning of the hair. When the new, fine hair comes through, DHT does it again — and keeps on keeping on until there's no hair left.


A very stressful event can cause people to lose their hair. A "general thinning of hair" usually takes place 3 months after a physical or emotional shock [2].

In most cases, the hair loss is only temporary; it can take up to 3 months for hair growth to resume afterwards. If a person's genetically predisposed to hair loss, this event could trigger the onset of genetic hair loss [7].


As the saying goes, you are what you eat.

Iron deficiency

The most common nutritional deficiency in the world? Drumroll please — it's iron deficiency [8]. This deficiency contributes to telogen effluvium (TE), where less than 50% of scalp hair can be lost [9].

Iron may play a certain role in hair loss [10]; Cleveland Clinic says it's "really important" for healthy hair and its growth [10][11]. But not to worry, the organisation also says most hair loss due to this deficiency can be reversed.

Protein deficiency

A common cause of temporary hair loss, decreased protein intake can result in telogen effluvium.

Protein malnutrition can also result in changes to the top of your head — not just thinning, it can also trigger hair loss [12].

Excess vitamin A

Most of the time, it's a great thing for your body. An essential fat-soluble vitamin, it's important for your body's immune system and for eye health.

But as the saying goes with too much of a good thing — well, when its levels are too high, it can spill into the circulation and end up causing hair loss [13].

Improper hair care

Even those blessed with a full head of hair could find they lose some of it, without proper haircare.

Tight hairstyles

Men's hair loss can occur from excessive hairstyling, or frequent wearing of a tightly pulled hairstyle — like cornrows. This is called traction alopecia [2].

Constant pulling and tying up your hair can damage hair follicles; when you damage those bad boys, you can develop permanent hair loss [14].


If you're a fan of bleaching your hair or frequently colouring it, your hair can become rough and fragile. It may not result in hair loss, but it can lead to hair breakage.

If you leave bleach or a permanent solution on your scalp for too long — something Schwarzkopf calls "genuine chemical mishaps" — then direct hair loss can occur [15].

Underlying medical conditions

There are a variety of medical conditions that lead to hair loss — from immune disorders, and scalp infections to mental disorders [2].


A symptom of ringworm is hair loss — which typically appears 4-14 days after your skin comes into contact with the fungi that caused the ringworm.

Tinea capitis, a type of ringworm, occurs on the scalp and resembles a scaly, itchy and red circular bald spot. It can grow in size, and if it spreads, can see multiple spots develop. However, this type is more common in children than adults [16].

Thyroid disease

Your thyroid hormone is essential for both the development and maintenance of your hair follicles. So when you have a thyroid condition — like Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Graves' disease — it can result in hair loss [17].

Other studies call the fact that endocrine disorders (ie. hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism) can cause hair loss "well-established" [18].

In good news, research shows that after your thyroid hormone levels are normalised, your hair loss is typically reversed — but not instantaneously.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia means hair loss. And alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune hair loss condition, with a lifetime risk of 2%.

Unlike androgenic alopecia, your immune system attacks your own hair follicles (rude) [19]. It's characterised by circular patches of hair loss, with what one survey study calls "an unpredictable trajectory."

Unlike other instances of alopecia, spontaneous hair growth is common, but it could take months or years. These periods of remission can be followed by further hair loss; in some instances, permanent hair loss of all head hair (alopecia totalis) [20].


A psychiatric disorder that can share comorbidities with OCD and ADHD, trichotillomania is a condition that compels people to pull out their hair — pubic hair, eyebrows, hair from the scalp. This can lead to thinning or total bald spots [21].


If you're dutifully taking your prescriptions from your doctor — arthritis, cancer, depression or blood pressure medications — it turns out that hair loss can be a side effect of certain drugs [2].

Rapid weight loss

Losing a significant amount of weight — in a significantly short amount of time — can increase your risk of hair loss [2].

In fact, if you undergo weight loss surgery, shedding hair 3-5 months after is a relatively common occurrence [22].

How can I treat hair loss?

There are the typical ways to manage male pattern baldness and general hair loss: the cheap, cheerful and comfortable option of hats; human hair wigs. But these don't stop the balding process, just hide it.

On the other (expensive) end of the spectrum, there's hair transplant surgery; follicular unit transplantation or follicular unit extraction. Healthy hair follicles are transplanted or extracted (as the name suggests) to balding parts [3].

Now onto the stuff that actually works and won't break the bank.

Starting with microneedling — like the Derma Roller, included in Pilot's Hair Growth Booster Kit. One study saw patients report an increase in the thickness of thin hair a month after initiating microneedling; 75% of patients rated more than 75% improvement after 6 months [23].

And in this treatment, biotin — also known as B7 or vitamin H — has been shown to help to prevent hair loss and balding [24]. Good thing we have it in gummy form for you.

There are also medical options like Pilot's hair loss treatment, which uses clinical-strength ingredients to "stimulate hair regrowth in some men", as well as being more effective in preventing further progression of hair loss [1].

At Pilot, we believe in treating each person with an individualised approach to their hair loss. When it comes to hair loss, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. You need the right treatments, in the right dosages, tailored just for you.

Our hair treatment plans have been developed by Dr. Russell Knudsen, a hair loss expert with over 35 years of experience. Using a combination of lifestyle changes and clinical-strength ingredients, we're happy to report that over 80% of our patients are able to retain their hair.

When it comes to hair loss, though, time is of the essence.

Photo credit: Getty Images


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0733863512000915
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hair-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20372926
  3. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-do-men-go-bald-and-is-there-anything-you-can-really-do-about-it/
  4. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/patterned-hair-loss
  5. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/male-pattern-baldness
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332400933_An_overview_of_herbal_alternatives_in_androgenetic_alopecia
  7. http://dstore.alazhar.edu.ps/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/374/IJEAIS170614.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
  8. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606321/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678013/
  11. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/im-low-in-iron-can-this-cause-me-to-lose-my-hair/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
  14. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/hairstyles
  15. https://www.schwarzkopf.co.uk/article-overview/haircare/hair_loss.html
  16. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/symptoms.html
  17. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-my-thyroid-condition-to-blame-for-my-hair-loss/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746235/
  19. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/alopecia
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30501016/
  21. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/trichotillomania
  22. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/metabolic-and-bariatric-surgery-blog/2013/march/tips-for-minimizing-hair-loss-after-weight-loss-surgery
  23. https://www.e-ijd.org/article.asp?issn=0019-5154;year=2015;volume=60;issue=3;spage=260;epage=263;aulast=Dhurat
  24. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-biotin-as-good-as-advertised-for-your-hair-loss/
  25. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jocd.14537
  26. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/patterned-hair-loss
  27. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-020-00448-x
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