Hair Loss When To See A Doctor

Hair loss is difficult for many men to accept. It normally affects older men but is prevalent in young men too.  Men typically lose hair in a specific pattern known as male pattern baldness. It involves either a receding hairline or thinning all over.  The main cause of male pattern hair loss is the follicles becoming weak due to their reaction to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Male pattern hair loss is not an illness but does cause distress and feelings of inadequacy. Hair loss runs in families and if your father and uncles have it you are likely to lose your hair too.  It is more distressing for younger men because it takes away your youthful appearance. Some men find the change in their appearance very difficult to cope with and seek treatments to prevent further hair loss.

Sometimes it is due to an underlying health condition.  If you are experiencing sudden and unusual hair loss a visit to the doctor helps to determine the cause.  Treating health conditions that cause you to lose your hair will make you better and enable your hair to regrow. The NHS offer advice to help you to understand your hair loss.

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Causes Of Male Pattern Hair Loss

Male pattern baldness affects men in all walks of life.  Elton John and Wayne Rooney are two very prominent people who spring to mind.  Hair grows in three cycles it starts in the root at the bottom of the follicle. Blood in the blood vessels feed the root and creates more cells.  Your hair pushes through the scalp and is dead by the time you see it poking out. We are all born with 500 million hair follicles 100,000 are on our scalp.  Male hair grows quicker than female hair and hair grows thinner as you age. (Source: AAD)

Men suffer hair loss due to the hair follicles reaction to the male hormone testosterone.  Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a derivative of testosterone which weakens the hair follicles.  This results in less hair growth in every three-year cycle. Men lose hair in a specific pattern starting at the temples and receding until there is an island of hair on their head.  Some experience thinning all over. Hair always remains around the ears and the back of the neck.

The emotional effects of losing your hair are devastating and some men require counselling to help them to deal with it.  Treatment varies depending on your budget and desperation to hide your thinning hair. At the top end, hair transplants involve planting healthy hair follicles into bald areas of the scalp.  Wigs, hairpieces or a good haircut also disguise hair loss. Drugs such as Finasteride and Propecia reduce the effects of DHT preventing further hair loss. Eventually, men accept their new appearance and learn to live with their hair loss.

Other Reasons For Losing Your Hair

Sometimes the cause is due to underlying health conditions which affect hair loss.  The following health conditions contribute to thinning hair; alopecia areata, hypothyroidism, malnutrition, stress, lichen planus, Hodgkin's Disease, syphilis and Hashimoto’s disease.  All of these conditions affect hair growth. If you are feeling generally unwell and are losing your hair a visit to the doctor will determine if an underlying health condition is a cause.

Treatment for some illnesses causes thinning hair such as treatment for erectile dysfunction, acne, antibiotics, antidepressants, epileptic medicine and chemotherapy drugs.  Your doctor will inform you if your medication causes hair loss and explain the long-term effects. Sometimes losing your hair is a minor problem if you are seriously ill.

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By Birpal Virdee (September 2018)