Hair is a big part of our identity. In fact, nearly nine in 10 men would list it as such, while over half say that they are 'extremely self-conscious' due to hair loss.
The findings come from a new survey of over 1,000 men who have hair loss symptoms. Of these, 58% said they noticed their hair start to thin as they were just starting their careers, and 35% have taken to wearing hats daily.
A further 26% have considered medical products for treatment, while 38% have ended up shaving their head when hair loss becomes visible, research from hair product brand Toppik found.
Hair loss in men is common. About a third of men over 30 in the UK will already be losing their hair, a figure that rises to around 80% by the time they reach 70.
For many men, it’s a stressful and embarrassing condition, especially if you’re still young. Indeed, a recent employment tribunal ruled that calling a man ‘bald’ is sex-related harassment.
Another survey, meanwhile, suggests men fear losing their hair more than they fear not finding a long-term partner or even going bankrupt.
Male pattern baldness explained
For the most part, it’s down to a condition called androgenetic alopecia, or what’s more commonly called male pattern baldness.
"Androgenic alopecia is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors and you’re more likely to be affected if you have a close relative who was affected and this can be inherited from one or both of your parents," explains Dr Christos Tziotzios, consultant dermatologist from Chiswick Medical Centre at The Lister Hospital.
"This happens because a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes changes in the hair follicles of the scalp. The affected follicle produces smaller, shorter and lighter hairs until the follicle no longer produces any hairs at all."
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Signs and symptoms of hair loss
Hair loss can be gradual or sudden, and the main sign is noticing your hair thinning, usually around your temples or on the top of your scalp.
Hair loss causes
Alopecia areata: a condition that prompts your immune system to attach healthy hair follicles.There are approximately 100,000 sufferers of alopecia areata in the UK and it can cause rapid hair loss.
Nutritional deficiency: If you’re lacking in vitamin D then you might be prone to hair loss. That’s because one of the roles vitamin D plays is in stimulating hair follicles and when there’s isn’t enough of it, it can prevent normal hair growth. Deficiencies in riboflavin, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12 have also been linked with hair loss.
Medication: Particular kinds of medication can also cause you hair to fall out, especially if you’re having chemotherapy treatment. Other medications, such as blood pressure drugs and antidepressants can also cause premature hair loss.
Stress and anxiety: The average person loses 50-100 hairs each day, usually without even noticing. But if you find that you’re losing more then it might be down to your stress levels, or what’s called telogen effluvium. Having anxiety or stress can force your hair follicles into a resting phase, meaning that new hair isn’t generated to replace the hair you lose naturally.
Poor diet: If your diet is poor too, which often happens when stress levels are high, the problem can be exacerbated.
Hair loss treatments
There is no cure for male pattern baldness – but there are treatments to help slow it down.
For men, that means over the counter products that you apply to your scalp that contain finasteride (a pill) and minoxidil (a topical lotion/shampoo) but be warned they won’t work for everyone and if they do you’ll have to keep using them in perpetuity.
Typically, they’re also not available through the NHS and can also be very expensive.
Hair transplants are increasingly popular. From Elon Musk, to Elton John, Lewis Hamilton and David Beckham, they all rumoured to have had a little work done on their thinning hair.
"A hair transplant is where follicles are removed from the back and side of your scalp and transplanted into the areas affected," says Dr Tziotzios.
"Just make sure you choose a reputable clinic and that the surgeon you see is fully registered with the British Association of Plastic Reconstruction and Aesthetic Surgeons."
But they don’t always work. Former Take That singer Robbie Williams had a hair transplant in 2013 and was going to have another in 2020 but was told that his hair was now too thin for it to work.
Similarly, football star Wayne Rooney has also undergone several transplants, none of which have really worked successfully. They’re costly too and you can expect to pay anywhere from £2,000 right up to £30,000, depending on the amount and type of work required.
Laser therapy is also common. It uses lasers or red light to boost circulation and stimulate the follicles to grow new hair. While it’s not cheap, it is painless and not as invasive as a hair transplant.
Watch: What is alopecia?