Men at all stages of life may begin to notice changes in the fullness of their hair.
The fact is, after puberty, most men will experience some degree of male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, in their lifetime.
Although hereditary considerations are the number one factor, balding can be unpredictable and take us by surprise. It can be challenging to experience, but you’re not alone.
Let’s examine when balding begins and what we can do to treat and prevent it at any age.
Since this condition affects so many of us, there’s a lot of research about it. Here are some of the facts we know about the relationship between age and balding.
Although we associate balding with older men, hair loss and hair thinning can begin any time after puberty.
When boys reach puberty and progress toward manhood, they experience many hormonal changes. The increased production of the sex hormone testosterone and its derivative dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is responsible for many bodily changes.
These male hormones also have a role to play in male pattern hair loss. The conversion of testosterone into DHT is the main factor, and high concentrations of these compounds are found in balding patients at all ages.
DHT can bind to receptors in our hair follicles, causing them to shrink and reduce their ability to support and produce full, healthy hair. It can also shorten the anagen phase, the length of time that hair grows before falling out.
The typical adult male body converts 10 percent of testosterone into DHT. How hair responds to the compound, however, is more difficult to predict, and seems to be related to variations in the AR gene, among other inherited traits.
It is well known that as we age, hair loss progresses and can become more pronounced. This is a commonly recognized phenomenon across time and racial groups.
The patterns are well-known — often beginning in the temples and crown of the head, leading to a “horseshoe” appearance, or alternatively receding from the front towards the back of the head.
But exactly how likely is it for each age range to notice hair loss and experience these changes?
The rule of thumb is that for each decade, the likelihood of balding increases by roughly 10%. In other words, men in their 20s have a 20 percent chance, men in their 30s have a 30 percent chance, and so on as they age.
Beyond hormones, hereditary concerns, and age, there are several factors that can compound and contribute to baldness as time passes.
These factors include proper diet, exercise, and regulation of stress levels. Just as a healthy lifestyle is important to our overall well-being, it can affect hair loss, too.
Hair loss can be a side effect of many common medications. These include drugs designed to treat depression, heart problems, and high blood pressure. Additionally, the medical conditions that warrant these medications may also cause some people to experience hair loss.
Hair thinning may also be directly related to health conditions. For instance, alopecia areata is a thyroid disorder in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. Meanwhile, androgenic alopecia is the type of hair loss that most men are familiar with, and typically has underlying genetic factors.
Many cosmetic hair treatments can also exacerbate the signs of hair loss. Chemicals used for bleaching, dying, and quick-drying hair can cause hair loss and should generally be avoided.
Although research has shed light on many of the causes of hair loss, it can still be unpredictable.
But, if your father, uncles, and grandfathers on both sides of the family are all bald, you can be fairly certain you will experience balding, since hereditary factors are the number one contributor to male hair loss.
This is all to say that when it comes to taking preventive steps, it is never too early to get started. In fact, when it comes to hair loss, the sooner, the better.
Getting educated, doing your research in advance, and making a game plan can help you stay ahead of the curve and prevent irreversible damage to your hair.
Fortunately, there are many steps we can take to improve favorable outcomes for men in all decades of their lives.
Let’s face it, the feeling of hair loss can be hard to cope with at times. It can cause feelings of reduced self-esteem and anger. But there is hope.
Learning the signs and symptoms and working with trusted professionals such as Dr. Jae Pak can help you protect yourself from hair loss at any age. Here are some ways to get ahead of the problem right now.
Although the timing of hair loss in each of our lives can be unpredictable, the signs and symptoms are well known. These include shedding, thinning, and diminished hair quality and overall health.
Hair shedding is a normal function of our hair cycle and is distinct from hair loss or balding. The average person has 100,000 hair follicles on their head and can expect to shed about 100 hairs per day. Significant amounts of shedding beyond that could indicate underlying causes such as male pattern baldness.
Thinning is the other big sign that you are experiencing the beginning of hair loss and balding. If you notice thinning on your crown, rapidly developing bald spots, thinning in the temples, or a receding hairline, you may have an underlying condition. Refer to the Norwood-Hamilton chart to see which stage of hair loss you’re at.
As soon as you notice your hair shedding or thinning faster than usual, don’t hesitate to connect with a hair loss professional. Treatments are more effective while you still have hair on your head.
At the first indication of noticeable thinning or shedding, consider connecting with a hair loss expert.
General practitioners and dermatologists don’t have the same expertise and mastery of treatments for male pattern baldness and other underlying causes.
A hair loss professional like Jae Pak, MD will help identify your case, then make a game plan to stop hair loss and work towards hair restoration.
The efficacy of hair loss treatments vary as we age and depend on the degree of hair loss. You can take comfort in knowing that there are many treatment options to address loss — no matter what decade of life you are in.
Men experiencing hair loss in their twenties should focus on lifestyle and medications first.
Combating stress, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep are essential. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins, including zinc, biotin, and iron can also help support healthy hair. When making adjustments to your diet or incorporating dietary supplements, make sure to do so under the guidance of your primary healthcare provider.
It’s also generally the best practice to quit smoking for the sake of your hair and general health. Among the many negative side effects, smokers may experience increased rates of hair loss.
For men, the prescription drug finasteride (also called Propecia) may help new hair loss by targeting DHT directly at the source. Some providers may recommend minoxidil (also called Rogaine), but this drug is not as successful as finasteride and may have unintended side effects.
Unlike men in their 20s, the pattern of hair growth and loss can be more developed for men in their 30s. This means it may be time to start considering permanent and alternative treatments to help slow hair loss.
Men of this age should consider scalp microdermabrasion techniques such as microchanneling. Evidence suggests that this form of collagen induction therapy can stimulate hair follicles, encouraging hair regrowth. It may also thicken hair lost from male pattern baldness.
Men in their 30s may also want to discuss hair transplantation with a professional to make the most of available donor hair and optimal hormone profiles.
Men in their 40s should continue to prioritize a healthy lifestyle.
By this age, hair loss can become more pronounced, and permanent solutions are often the best route forward. Hair transplantation using grafts of healthy hair from donor sites can restore hair to the desired fullness and improve self-esteem.
With a 50% chance of balding in this age range, it is a toss of a coin as to whether men will start balding at the half-century mark. Continuing to prioritize a healthy lifestyle is a best practice to reduce and slow hair loss for men of this age.
A hair transplant should be considered for the most profound and transformative effect.
Men in their 60s have a 60% chance of experiencing baldness and hair loss.
Men who start experiencing hair loss and baldness for the first time at this age in life are likely attached to their hair. This is an ideal time for them to get a hair transplant to maintain the feeling of a lush, full head of hair.
When facing hair loss, there is always a path forward. Men at any age can achieve some degree of hair restoration, even with advanced balding.
The important thing is to establish a relationship with a hair loss professional to make a game plan. Acting as soon as you experience the signs and symptoms is your best bet to have the hair you want.
Male Androgenetic Alopecia Study | NIH
Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss | Consult QD
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