Worldwide, hair loss affects almost 1/3 of the population. On average, a person loses 100 strands of hair a day, and there are many causes of hair loss, including vitamin deficiency, medications, genetics, and stress. If you are a man who has noticed a receding hairline, the first thing you should do is see your physician to make sure it’s not a sign of a more serious health condition. A thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease, or even a scalp issue could be making your hairline recede. An autoimmune disorder known as Alopecia Areata often results in unpredictable hair loss, and it affect about seven million people in the United States. The condition occurs when white blood cells attack the cells in hair follicles, causing them to shrink and dramatically slow down hair production. It is unknown precisely what causes the body’s immune system to target hair follicles in this way. Alopecia areata does not directly make people sick, nor is it contagious. The most common form of alopecia areata treatment is the use of corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These are mostly commonly administered through local injections, topical ointment application, or orally.”
However, the most common form of hair loss in men is Androgenetic Alopecia (also known as male pattern baldness). Men normally lose their hair when three main factors interact: genetics, age, and hormones. Male pattern baldness can begin in a man’s teenage years; however, it is most common in adults, with the likelihood increasing with age. Genetics plays a huge role in male pattern baldness, and men with close relatives who also have male pattern baldness are at a greater risk of developing the condition, particularly when their relative is on the mother’s side of their family. “If your hair loss begins at the temples or the crown of the head, you may have male pattern baldness. Some men will get a single bald spot. Others experience their hairlines receding to form an “M” shape. In some men, the hairline will continue to recede until all or most of the hair is gone.”
If you decide to start treatment to save your hair, there are techniques to help fight the battle against male pattern baldness including:
1. De-stress.“Hair loss, as it occurs with Androgenetic Alopecia, provokes anxieties and distress more profound than its objective severity would appear to justify. This reflects the profound symbolic and psychosocial importance of hair. Stress has long been implicated as one of the causal factors involved in hair loss.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15309635. Therefore, if chronic stress is a problem in your life, getting your stress levels under control may help restore your body’s natural hair growth process. To elevate stress, learn relaxation techniques, listen to soothing music, and become more involved with family and friends.
2. Enrich your diet with Protein. According to Men’s Journal, “Hair is primarily made of protein, so it makes sense to eat protein-rich foods if you’re trying to maintain healthy growth. Without adequate protein intake, the body can’t efficiently make new hair to replace the hair that’s shed. That said, eating a steak every day isn’t going to help you. High-fat diets result in increased testosterone levels, which have been linked to hair loss—so steaks are not among the foods that prevent hair loss. Stick to leaner proteins such as fish, chicken, soy products, low-fat cheese, eggs, almonds, beans, and yogurt.”
Additionally, “Protein is critical for keeping your hair healthy, but many people don’t get enough. Lean meats like fish and chicken, eggs, and soy products are good sources. Eat one serving every day. Because trace minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, and biotin also affect hair, it’s a good idea to take a daily multivitamin. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are also important to your hair. Vegetarians and vegans often don’t get enough of them. Foods with B6 include bananas, potatoes (both white and sweet), and spinach. Major sources of B12 include meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.”
3. Take multivitamins –
- Vitamin A: An adequate intake of vitamin A is key to helping promote the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout the body, including the hair and scalp. Vitamin A is delivered to our bodies in two ways: from plant and animal sources. Hair-healthy plant sources include red, yellow, and orange fruits, and vegetables like carrots, as well as some dark green leafy vegetables. Some heavy-hitter animal sources for vitamin A include liver, fish oil, eggs, and fortified milk.
- Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid:
All three of these B vitamins are essential to the normal formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body, including hair. Healthy, strong hair relies on a constant supply of blood and oxygen. A deficiency of these B vitamins is like cutting off the blood supply to your hair, leading to increased hair loss, damaged hair, and slow regrowth. The best sources of vitamin B6 and B12 are protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, eggs, pork, and soybeans. Your best bet for plant-based sources are leafy vegetables, orange juice, avocado, beets, broccoli, wheat germ, and some fortified cereals.
- Vitamin C:
Essential to producing collagen, a connective tissue that gives structure by holding tissues in the body together, such as the tissue in hair. The human body is not able to store vitamin C for long periods of time, so don’t try to load up on it in an effort to make up for lost time. Instead, make sure you eat plenty of foods containing vitamin C every day. The best sources of vitamin C are found in plant sources like oranges, berries, melons, peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, and tomatoes.
Dandruff and hair loss are both conditions associated with a zinc deficiency. Zinc is a mineral that promotes cell reproduction, tissue growth, and repair. Zinc also functions in the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands attached to our hair follicles. Good sources of zinc include foods of animal origin, including seafood, poultry, mussels, shrimp, and oysters. Eggs and milk also supply zinc but in smaller amounts. Whole-grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain zinc, but in a form that’s not easily absorbed by the body.
4. Drink plenty of water: The human body requires water for cell growth. Water helps deliver nutrients and aids in removing waste, and the average person loses about three quarts of water a day. If that water isn’t replenished, the body becomes dehydrated, and prevents the body from performing at its best. The signs of dehydration may include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and even hair loss. Water makes up ¼ of every strand of hair, and your body requires adequate water to grow new hair. Being chronically dehydrated will lead to hair loss. If the body is not getting enough water to the vital organs, it will divert water from less critical areas of the body, including the hair. Chronic dehydration will cause hair follicles to stop producing enough hair strands to combat the hair lost every day.
5. Stop smoking: If an increased risk of COPD, cancer, and heart disease are not reason enough to quit smoking, perhaps a message focused on hair instead of health may do the trick. “The mechanisms by which smoking causes hair loss are multifactorial and are probably related to effects of cigarette smoke on the microvasculature of the dermal hair papilla, smoke genotoxicants causing damage to DNA of the hair follicle, smoke-induced imbalance in the follicular protease/antiprotease systems controlling tissue remodeling during the hair growth cycle, pro-oxidant effects of smoking leading to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines resulting in follicular micro-inflammation and fibrosis and finally increased hydroxylation of oestradiol as well as inhibition of the enzyme aromatase creating a relative hypo-oestrogenic state.”
6. Decrease alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to deficiencies or malabsorption of key nutrients. In particular, there’s evidence that not getting enough zinc, copper, or protein may lead to hair shedding. In some cases, people who drink heavily may not eat enough nutrients due to poor diet. In other cases, alcohol actually interferes with the way the body processes and uses food during digestion. Excessive drinking can lead to a decrease in the amount of iron-rich foods a person consumes. Alcohol may affect zinc and copper absorption. Drinking alcohol may also interfere with the absorption of protein or lead to lower protein consumption. Studies show a severe deficiency in protein can lead to a number of skin, hair, and nail issues.
7. Medications may cause hair loss. According to the American Hair Loss Association, “Many commonly prescribed prescription drugs can cause temporary hair loss, trigger the onset of male and female pattern baldness, and even cause permanent hair loss…For these conditions, you will want to discuss the possibility of hair loss as a side effect of using any of the drugs that treat that particular condition, since many do contribute to hair loss. All drugs derived from vitamin A as treatments for acne or other conditions; Anticoagulants (blood thinners); Cholesterol-lowering drugs; Convulsions/ Epilepsy; Depression; Antifungals; Glaucoma; Gout; Many drugs prescribed for the heart, including those known as the beta blockers, which are also used to treat high blood pressure, All hormone-containing drugs and drugs prescribed for hormone-related, reproductive, male-specific, and female-specific conditions and situations have the potential to cause hair loss; Many anti-inflammatory drugs, including those prescribed for localized pain, swelling and injury; Parkinson’s Disease; Thyroid Disorders; and ulcers.”
8. Wash hair regularly with mild shampoo. There are a wide variety of shampoos on the market that claim to combat hair loss; however, Minoxidil “is the only over-the-counter medication for hair loss approved by the FDA for use by both men and women. It won’t rescue a receding hairline, but it does stimulate hair growth…
Available as Rogaine or Theroxidil, or in generic form. It’s sold as a liquid or foam and in two strengths: 2% and 5%.
Minoxidil works for about 2 out of 3 men. It’s most effective if you’re under age 40 and have only recently started to lose your hair.
- How to use it:
Twice a day, when your hair is dry, apply minoxidil on your scalp where the hair has started to thin. Then be patient. You may not notice changes for 4 months or more.
- What it doesn’t do:
Minoxidil does not cure baldness. If you stop using it, you will start losing hair again. Your hair may fall out faster than before.
- Side effects:
You may have redness, itching, dryness, flaking, or other scalp irritation, though this is uncommon. It’s more likely if you use the stronger 5% solution.”
9. Massage the scalp with essential oils. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The results show aromatherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9828867. Essential oils are extracted from plants and contain strong chemical properties that can benefit health. Essential oils have long been used in homeopathic medicines due to their effectiveness and low risk of side effects. The biggest risk of essential oils is an allergic reaction, which is common when an essential oil is applied directly to the skin. It’s always important to use a carrier oil, such as olive oil, to dilute the essential oil. Essential oil such as lavender oil has properties that can generate the growth of cells and reduce stress. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which can improve scalp health. Mix several drops of lavender oil into 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and apply it directly to your scalp. Leave it in for at least 10 minutes before washing it out and shampooing as you normally would. Rosemary oil is a great choice if you to improve hair thickness and hair growth with its ability to improve cellular generation.
https://www.healthline.com/health/essential-oils-for-hair-growth#risks-and-side-effects. “Rosmarinus officinalis L. is a medicinal plant with diverse activities including enhancement microcapillary perfusion. The present study aimed to investigate the clinical efficacy of rosemary oil in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA) and compare its effects with minoxidil 2%. Patients with AGA were randomly assigned to rosemary oil (n = 50) or minoxidil 2% (n = 50) for a period of 6 months. After a baseline visit, patients returned to the clinic for efficacy and safety evaluations every 3 months. A standardized professional microphotographic assessment of each volunteer was taken at the initial interview and after 3 and 6 months of the trial…both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count at the 6-month endpoint compared with the baseline and 3-month endpoint.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842469. “Cedarwood oil is thought to promote hair growth and reduce hair loss by balancing the oil-producing glands in the scalp. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can treat different conditions that may contribute to dandruff or hair loss. Included in a mixture with lavender and rosemary, cedarwood extract was also found to reduce hair loss in those with alopecia areata. Mix a few drops of cedarwood essential oil with 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil of your choice. Massage it into your scalp and leave it on for 10 minutes before washing it out.”
10. Finally, be kind to your hair. Avoid hairstyles that pull on hair (the man bun). Towel dry hair gently. Avoid excessive heat. Wearing caps and hats can also affect hair loss by cutting off circulation to the scalp and hinder hair growth.
Suffering Androgenetic Alopecia (male pattern baldness) can lead to reduced self-confidence and increased insecurity. It can have a significant impact on a man’s personality, making him shy, depressed, or even antisocial. “Our ‘crowning glory’ can show off physical and emotional well-being, sexual potency and desirability, and even social and financial status. When it becomes dull or brittle, it can communicate emotional and/or physical disease…But hair can also capture unrecognized and often unspoken daydreams about oneself and one’s world. Given our cultural focus on physical appearance and youth, hair loss can be traumatic for both men and women…So whether you choose the medical route (or any other treatment to stop the loss), remember thinning hair may not be something you can change, but it doesn’t have to control the person who lives underneath it.”