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Male Hair Loss: Why You Are Losing Your Hair?

Hair loss is a distressing problem to many men. It can impact adversely on confidence and self image. Men with the issue may feel that it makes them less attractive to women, even when that may not be necessarily true. Such an outcome increases the interest of a lot of men, including those who do not yet have full-blown hair loss, in knowing how they can prevent it. This entails knowing what could lead to the problem in the first place – the possible causes. And for those already battling with the condition, what help is available? We address these matters in this article. So do well to read on.

Hair Loss

What is male hair loss?

Male hair loss is simply what the name indicates: the loss of hair in men, more specifically on the scalp. It is what mostly comes to mind when there is a mention of hair loss. This problem can set in as early as the teenage years. But more commonly, it starts in the 20s or 30s.

It begins with a receding hairline. Then follows slow but sure thinning of the hair on top of your head. These changes often end up forming a U-shape, with the center of the head bald and hair on the sides and back of the head.

Male pattern baldness is the most common of the hair loss that men experience. The condition, which is also known as androgenic alopecia, will affect more than half of all men who are older than 50 years, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Theories on the causes of hair loss in men

You may be disappointed to learn that researchers do not yet know the exact cause of hair loss in men. They have instead presented different theories that may help to explain why the problem may come up. Practically none of these explain in totality the various forms of hair loss that are seen in men. Let's consider the prominent theories along with areas where they fall short.

Genetic programming theory

This is the most common explanation that is given as to why you may be losing your hair. You are made to understand that genetics is the ultimate factor – you are genetically programmed to suffer hair loss. The implication of this is that you are likely to experience balding if someone in your family has had similar issue in the past.

Not much is known about the specific genes that predispose you to hair loss, though. Only a handful of such genes, including 5-alpha reductase, are known. This is despite the fact that genetics has been the most common explanation over the years. The idea that your hair follicles are genetically programmed for hair loss has also largely remained unconfirmed.

Certain trends of balding are not well explained using this theory. It doesn't really appear to provide enough insight into how hair loss affects parts of the scalp, leaving contiguous areas unaffected. It seems to suggest that only some specific hair follicles are programmed for hair loss. This does leave room for questions on such possibility.

DHT theory

This theory is, in a way, linked to the genetic programming theory. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a means by which genetics is thought to promote hair loss. This hormone is a by-product of the male hormone testosterone. Hair loss is said to be a result of buildup of this substance in the scalp. High amount of DHT is observed in men experiencing balding.

Hair follicles are quite sensitive to DHT. When its amount gets high, the follicles start to shrink. This weakens the hair growth cycle and results in thinner and thinner hair with successive cycles. It gets to a stage when your hair becomes very thin and wispy – somewhat like a spider’s web thread. The thinning eventually ends in the disappearance of hair in the affected part and no new hair grows again. This means people with low DHT levels are less likely to have male pattern baldness.

However, this theory doesn’t really clarify why the patterns of hair loss in men and women differ. It also fails to explain the DHT paradox. This phenomenon has to do with contrasting functions of the hormone in your body and head. While this substance is said to cause hair loss on the head, it actually helps to promote growth of hair on other parts of the body.

Skull expansion theory

An expanding skull can cause you to experience male pattern baldness. This is the premise of the skull expansion theory. This one has connection to DHT as well. It is known that the human skull is capable of continuing to expand all through adulthood. The head of balding men are commonly different in shape from that of people with the problem, going by observation. Interestingly, the testosterone derivative has a hand in these changes.

DHT is said to facilitate the growth of bones in the body. So, when levels become high in the head, it can promote considerable bone growth in the skull. This leads to skull expansion and shifting of hair follicles from supporting capillary networks. The result is a possible drop in the supply of blood to these follicles. This causes shrinking and hair thinning. Eventually, hair stops growing.

The skull expansion theory does look to hold water. In fact, some people agree that it best explains why you may be losing your hair. But it still doesn’t explain all cases of male pattern baldness. There are people with a prominent, jutting forehead (frontal bossing) that do not experience hair loss. On the other hand, there are also individuals who didn’t experience skull expansion and yet suffered balding.

Also, this theory failed to clearly explain the difference in hair loss pattern between men and women. Hair thinning is usually even in females, while that is not the case in males.

Gravity theory

The aim with this one is to provide an alternative or clearer understanding of the DHT theory. The gravity theory may be considered an answer to the DHT paradox. Why does the testosterone derivative promote hair growth on your face and body while doing the reverse on your head?

The factor that explains that paradox, according to this theory, is gravity. You lose your hair due to downward pressure on your scalp, combined with levels of androgen hormones. The combination of these two factors leads to loss of the subcutaneous fat layer on the top of your head. But the fat content on the back and sides remains practically unchanged.

As already noted, DHT can actually help to promote hair loss. The body redirects more androgen hormones, such as this one, to your scalp when downward pressure causes displacement of subcutaneous fat. This is meant to support hair growth. But then, these hormones actually worsen the loss of the fat layer. This, of course, causes your hair follicles to shrink leading to hair loss.

The gravity theory is another that fails to explain precisely why the shape of hair loss in men is different to that of women. It doesn’t tell why balding typically start from the temples or vertex. Also, people do lose hair on the sides of the head – not just the top.

Galea theory

Male hair loss has also been said to be the result of problem with the galea aponeurotica. This theory somewhat debunks the genetic programming and DHT theories. The basic idea behind the galea theory is that specific parts of the head are not suited for healthy hair growth. This is why you are likely to experience hair loss in those areas.

The galea, or epicranial aponeurosis, is a layer of flat, broad and fibrous tissue covering the top part of the cranium or scalp. The helmet-like, pearly white tissue functions as a tendon and has several attachments. It connects the muscles atop the eyebrow (frontalis) to those at the back of the ears (occipitalis). Hair loss typically occurs in the area of this fibrous tissue.

So how does this contribute to hair loss? There are actually several explanations as to how this happen. But the general idea is that balding results from the fusion of the galea with the subcutaneous fat and skin layers. This gives rise to a single, thick tissue as well as reduction in skin elasticity and density of subcutaneous fat. The eventual consequence of this is hair loss.

Some research evidence also shows that the resulting hair loss is actually due to reduce blood supply. A tight scalp impedes blood flow, especially in the vertex and frontal peaks. The poor circulation causes oxygen levels in the galea to drop. This creates an environment suitable for conversion of testosterone into DHT. This, expectedly, speeds up the rate of hair loss.

But on the aspect of layer fusion, the proponents of this theory didn’t explain the specific cause of the galea fusing with other layers. It also fails to make clear the reason for difference in the forms of hair loss between men and women.

Stem cell theory

The stem cell theory of male hair loss is probably the latest. It is based on findings by some researchers from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. They proposed that hair loss may be the result of inactivation of stem cells.

According to the researchers, areas of the head affected by balding are not necessarily without hair. They said hair actually grows at such points, just that they are so small that a microscope may be required to see them. The state of your hair follicles plays a role in whether you will lose your hair. This, in turn, depends on the health of stem cells in your scalp.

The team took healthy and bald patches for comparison. It was found that both set of patches possessed similar number of stem cells. However, the bald patches had significantly lower mature progenitor cells from the available stem cells. The former cells help in promoting hair growth.

The researchers came to the conclusion that the findings suggest that people with male pattern baldness have challenge activating stem cells to become the progenitor cells. What this means is that balding may be addressed by finding a means of reactivating the stem cells.

But the stem cell theory is a relatively new one with negligible research to back it up, although it looks promising. The University of Pennsylvania trial was conducted with just about 54 subjects aged between 40 and 65 years. Every one of these participants was a white male.

Which of the theories perfectly explains hair loss?

As you may have seen, none of these theories does a perfect job in explaining why men lose their hair, specifically as it has to do with the pattern. They only provide an idea of how the problem can occur, and there will always be exceptions. And while a couple of these theories attempt to explain the DHT Paradox, they did not succeed in providing something entirely convincing.

Also, hair loss may occur for a reason that is not directly addressed by any of these theories. There are cases where male pattern baldness may be an effect of some scary health issue or substance use. For example, anabolic steroids, medications, thyroid issues, and some types of cancer may present hair loss as a symptom.

Nevertheless, the theories are still helpful in understanding the causes of hair loss in men to an extent. But more research is obviously required to better understand why men loss their hair in the way they do.

The HGH angle

Human growth hormone, a substance secreted by the pituitary gland, has also been associated to hair loss. The levels of this peptide are known to plummet as people grow older. This is said to be why people usually shed hairs on their head as the years go by. It is actually normal for hair loss to occur and we do lose many strands in a day. Younger individuals are able to re-grow new hairs better than the elderly. This ability, probably due to higher HGH levels, helps them to guard against hair loss.

It is thought that the ability of HGH to repair and regenerate cells in the body may be beneficial in promoting hair growth. This offers the potential of supporting the growth of new hair cells. Evidence from a number of studies supports this benefit as well. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin observed this benefit in a study involving more than 300 subjects as a result of HGH therapy. Roughly 38 percent of those treated also reported improvement in the color and texture of their hair.

It has also been argued that growth hormone may impact on the enzyme 5-alpha reductase that converts testosterone into DHT. The belief is that the naturally occurring substance may inhibit the amount of the enzyme in the body. This can help to address the problem of hair follicle shrinkage that leads to hair shedding.

What help is available for dealing with male hair loss?

Male hair loss is not a problem you have to put up with if you do not like it. A variety of remedies are available to fight it, although effectiveness differs. Below are some options you can check out.

Hair Loss Medications

Minoxidil (Rogaine, Regaine) and finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) are the most popular medications used for correcting hair loss. Originally used for treatment of high blood pressure, minoxidil is a topical solution that you need to apply to your scalp two times a day. It stimulates hair follicles to produce new hair. This action is actually a side effect of this medication, and it proved to be a good one. But there are other unpleasant side effects from use, including weight gain and rapid heartbeat.

In its own case, finasteride is taken by mouth. It works by inhibiting conversion of testosterone into DHT. The drug is thought more effective than minoxidil, although the effect also fades when you stop using it. Possible side effects from use include rash, hives, itching, breast growth and depression.

Hair Transplants Surgery

Surgical procedures are seen as the most effective means of combating hair loss in men. The results are permanent, or so they say. The most popular are probably hair transplants. These are more appropriate for people with only frontal hair loss. The procedure involves taking hair from scalp areas with healthy growth and transplanting them to balding spots. This costs a high amount of money to do, though.

Another procedure known as flap surgery involves extending the areas of the scalp with active hair growth. The aim is that this will cover up balding areas, if such are smaller in size.

Wigs

How about faking healthy hair growth? A wig may be an option worth considering if you desire long lasting results without spending a fortune. Interestingly, you have a wide array of colors, textures, and styles to have your pick from. The aim should to be to choose a wig that is quite close to your natural hair, especially in terms of color. The main problem here, however, is the possibility of the hairpiece falling off when you least expect.

You may consider the options of weaving the wig into your natural hair. This is ideal if you still have enough hair to hold it in place. But it could be counter-productive somehow as the process of sewing in the wig can harm natural hair growth. Besides, you will need to have the piece reset whenever you grow new hairs.

Growth hormone releasers

You may want to improve your growth hormone levels considering the role that the substance is said to play in hair growth. HGH injections are most potent in boosting levels in the body. But it is illegal to use them for this purpose, particularly if you live in the United States.

So instead of HGH injections you can look towards HGH supplements, such as GenF20 Plus. These products contain natural ingredients – no real hormone – and are available OTC. They work by stimulating your pituitary gland to produce more naturally occurring growth hormone.

There is definitely no consensus on what the specific causes of hair loss in men are. The theories on ground only help to get a part of the picture, not the whole. Medications, surgery and growth hormone supplements may help control the problem to different degrees.

 

REFERENCES

www.netdoctor.co.uk/conditions/skin-and-hair/a12005/male-hair-loss/
https://perfecthairhealth.com/the-leading-theories-of-pattern-hair-loss/
www.healthline.com/health/male-pattern-baldness
www.hgh.org/HGH-For-Hair-Loss.html
http://www.belgraviacentre.com/blog/new-theory-about-male-pattern-baldness/
http://www.hairgrowthsos.com/hair-loss-genetics.html
https://tophairlosstreatments.com/dht-hair-loss/


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