There are a lot of myths that persist around the subject of hair loss. A big part of the reason for this is that people generally don’t think about hair loss until they have to deal with it themselves. This means that myths get accepted as truth and the real facts get lost.
Something that a lot of people believe is that stress is major cause of hair loss – but is this really true? Well, the answer is – sometimes, but in most cases – no. When talking about classic male pattern balding, stress is usually not a factor. However, there is a particular type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium that can be triggered by very stressful events.
It’s worth pointing out that this type of hair loss is relatively rare, especially when compared to male pattern balding so in a general sense, no – stress is not what causes hair loss.
The cause of male pattern balding
The main culprit of male pattern balding is the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is produced naturally in the body, but for a good percentage of men, their DHT levels rise as they age and this in turn causes their hair to thin out. This is because hair follicles are very sensitive to DHT and its presence causes them to shrink and eventually die.
There are other factors that can contribute to the speed at which hair loss occurs, such as diet and lifestyle factors, but DHT is by far the biggest culprit in male balding.
Know you know what causes hair loss you’re probably curious as to whether anything can be done about it. The good news is that there are now treatments available that are proven to be effective in treating hair loss. The bad news is they don’t work for everybody and they do come with some potential side effects.
Below are the two FDA-approved treatments available for hair loss.
Finasteride – Better known by its brand name – Propecia, Finasteride is a DHT inhibitor that works by lowering the amount of DHT that’s synthesized in your body and therefore slowing, and in some cases reversing hair loss. Potential side effects include weak erections, watery semen and brain fog. These side effects only affect a small minority of men and usually subside once treatment is stopped.
Minoxidil – Also known as Rogaine, is a vasodilator, which essentially means it widens blood vessels. Although it’s not 100% clear exactly why minoxidil works for hair loss (it was originally developed as medication to treat high blood pressure), a lot of men have it as a key part of their regimen. Side effects are less common with minoxidil but they can include irregular heartbeat, headaches and puffiness in the face.