Hair loss – what can be done?
At least 50% of men are affected by pronounced hair loss over the course of their lives. It is important to determine what type of hair loss you are dealing with and what has triggered. Hereditary hair loss accounts for 80% of all hair loss.
If you suddenly discover an unusual amount of hair in the sink or on the brush or if the hair becomes visibly thin then is a cause for concern. Men then cannot avoid asking whether they have a health problem or whether they will be bald within a few years.
When is hair loss normal?
We all lose up to 100 hairs a day regardless of our age and gender. After all, this amount of hair loss is both normal and necessary. Anything which goes beyond this is a cause for concern.
Hair grows in cycles. Each hair has a lifetime ranging between around four and seven years. When a hair reaches the end of its growth cycle, the root stops growth and the hair falls out. Since the growth cycles of new hairs begin simultaneously, this hair loss is barely noticeable.
However, this is not the case when lots of hairs fall out and these are not replaced by new ones. This results in the hair looking thinner and finer. Bald spots then form on the head and the hairline recedes.
The following symptoms help to determine whether you are dealing with pronounced hair loss:
- You find more hairs than normal on your cushion in the morning.
- The hair feels thinner than before.
- The scalp is more clearly visible through the hair.
- Hair loss can be clearly seen when washing and brushing.
- When comparing recent and older photos, a receding hairline is evident.
What types of hair loss are there?
Not all hair loss types are the same. Each type has different causes. That's why it is so important to determine your specific type of hair loss.
Hereditary hair loss
The most common type of hair loss is genetic, or androgenetic alopecia, and is normally referred to as hereditary hair loss. This accounts for 80% of all hair loss. This type of hair loss can be recognised through its common occurrence in male relatives (brother, father, grandfather) and by a receding hair line and thinning hair at the back of the head.
Diffuse hair loss
Another type is diffuse hair loss. Bald spots are less common with this type and, instead, the hair becomes thinner with reduced volume and grip. Diffuse hair loss can be triggered by a multitude of factors – from daily hair care routines to illness and disease.
Circular hair loss
Alopecia areata, or circular hair loss, is an inflammatory disorder. It occurs in stages and results in bald patches on the head. Beards, eyebrows and body hair can also be affected by this.
Scarred hair loss
Scarred hair loss is very rare. As the name suggests, in addition to hair loss the areas affected are also scarred. Here the hair roots are permanently damaged.
Cause(s) of hair loss
Once you have established the type of hair loss you are dealing with, you can start researching the causes. In many cases, the causes can be derived from the type of hair loss or, at least, the possible causes can be limited.
Causes of hereditary hair loss
With androgenetic alopecia (hereditary hair loss), hair loss is caused by a by-product of the male hormone testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Here, the hair roots react sensitively to the influence of DHT. This can impair formation of the energy messenger c-AMP which is required for the hair root metabolism. The hair growth phases are then reduced in length. The root eventually withers and stops growth, the hair falls out and no new hair can regrow. And, ultimately, more and more bald patches form.
Causes of diffuse hair loss
There are many factors in our day-to-day lives which can cause diffuse hair loss. Often this is due to a poor supply of nutrients to the roots or mechanical damage.
- An unbalanced or poor diet
- Continuing mental stress
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive heat, e.g., from hair drying
- Mechanical stress from a brush or comb
Causes of circular hair loss
The causes of circular hair loss on the other hand have not been fully clarified. Frequently, however, an immune system disorder is often suspected. The body starts to react to the hair roots like a pathogen and rejects these.
Causes of scarred hair loss
Scarred hair loss is mostly due to illness or disease. That's why it is especially important to consult your doctor here. This may be due to skin disorders such as psoriasis, a fungal or bacterial infection. The cause of the hair loss could also be an autoimmune or organ disease.
Obvious reasons for scarred hair loss include, for example, burns or chemical burns. Here the hair roots are permanently damaged.
The consequences of hair loss
If hair loss continues unchecked, bald patches will eventually form on the scalp. In the long term a tonsure can be seen on the back of the head or the hairline recedes visibly and, in extreme cases, bald patches form.
Many men are affected emotionally by the ongoing loss of their hair. If the ideal of beauty of full, healthy hair cannot be achieved or maintained this can be a bitter setback. Many sufferers worry about how this will be viewed by women as well as the teasing and comments they experience from their friends and family. After all, for many full and healthy hair is regarded as a sign of youth and vitality.
Occasionally the self-confidence of those affected is impacted upon, they become withdrawn and may even develop symptoms of depression requiring treatment.
How can hereditary hair loss be prevented?
Should the men in your family be predisposed to baldness, a receding hairline or a tonsure, it is also highly likely that subsequent generations will also be affected by this. That's why you shouldn't wait until you notice hair loss. After all, the hair loss in these cases is often permanent. We recommend taking preventative measures by using remedies designed to stop hair loss and thus extend the growth phases and lifetime of hair roots, e.g., with a caffeine shampoo or caffeine-based hair tonic. Caffeine neutralises the negative effect of DHT at the hair roots and thereby prevents premature hair loss.
In addition, all those factors which subject the hair roots and scalp to mechanical stresses should be avoided:
- You should not use excessively hot water when washing. Lukewarm water is ideal.
- The hair should be dried with cool air and without hairdryer heat as far as possible
- In addition, the cooler air ensures that the hair cuticles are sealed leaving the hair looking softer and shinier.
- Rubbing your scalp dry with a towel should also be avoided in future. Instead, you should wring your hair dry or gently pat the scalp with a towel.
- Wearing hats and caps constantly prevents hair from getting to the scalp. Furthermore, the scalp is subjected to constant friction and can become irritated.
What can men do if their hair has already started falling out?
If you have already started losing your hair that doesn't mean it is too late to stop your hair loss. The active agent caffeine can also help here to prevent hair loss.
If hair loss is already at an advanced stage, many of those affected opt for a hair transplant. Ever since celebrities such as the football manager Jürgen Klopp spoke openly about undergoing this procedure, a growing number of people have followed suit. Bald spots and a receding hairline can be filled with healthy hair roots from the crown of the head and are therefore not affected by hair loss. Nevertheless, hair loss can still occur in other areas, such as the top of the head. This can be prevented by using caffeine-based products.
Hair loss remedies
The different types of hair loss are as diverse as the products available from retailers and pharmacists to combat this problem. These include products designed to increase hair density and growth agents which promise to enable hair which has fallen out to grow back. Some are prescription-only expensive remedies which are not covered by health insurers and which you have to pay yourself. As with all medication, serious side effects can also be caused by minoxidil and finasteride which are taken at your own risk.
Regular hair washing with a caffeine shampoo against hair loss combined with careful care and the use of proven remedies. Most of these have a positive effect on the scalp and ensure optimal conditions for healthy hair growth:
- Aloe Vera gel regulates the scalp's pH value and also boosts its natural protective barrier. This can either be applied and massaged in or taken as a drink.
- Plant-based oils soothe irritated and dry scalps. Nourishing oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil and argon oil have proven to be particularly effective.
- Food supplements containing iron, zinc and potassium can help to compensate for deficiencies caused by diets or poor nutrition. Your hair requires these nutrients for healthy and strong growth.
- Biotin, a vitamin from the vitamin B complex family, is essential for a healthy metabolism and thus also hair growth. It can be found in lots of hair care products. Should you have a biotin deficiency, this can be counteracted with supplements or natural foods such as oat flakes, milk, walnuts and fish.
- Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and boosts cell growth. Vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in this vitamin as it is primarily found in animal products such as meat and eggs.
- A frequent cause for hair loss is a lack of vitamin D. This vitamin is the only one that the body can create itself, namely by absorbing sunlight. Yet to combat this deficiency effectively, it takes more than spending a lot of time in the sun. A dietary supplement should also be taken in this case.
- The trace element selenium has a major influence on hair health and growth. It is found, for example, in pulses, sunflower seeds, meat and many types of fish. Yet, since too much of this can harm the body, you should have your selenium levels checked by your doctor before taking such supplements.
- Stinging nettles work to counter overacidification of the body which can cause diffuse hair loss. They can be drunk as a tea or used directly on the scalp.
Is hair loss a disease?
Hereditary androgenetic alopecia has nothing to do with health. Hereditary hair loss is thus not a disease.
Round or oval bald patches and scarring hair loss are signs or serious disorders and must be discussed with your doctor. Diffuse hair loss can be caused by health problems such as:
- Thyroid disorders impair hair growth and encourage hair loss.
- Hormone disorders are a common cause of hair loss in both men and women.
- If psoriasis occurs on the scalp this can cause hair loss in the areas affected.
- Neurodermatitis can also result in hair loss.
If the symptoms do not point to hereditary hair loss but disease, or if you are unable to determine the cause of your hair loss, please consult your GP or dermatologist. A blood test or a more thorough examination of your scalp can confirm or confute a suspected pathology. Should medication be required, your doctor will prescribe the necessary drugs to stop your hair loss. In combination with other measures (e.g., caffeine shampoo), you will see positive results after a few months.