Hair Loss: Can Skin Ever Be "In"?
Hair loss in men can be devastating to self-esteem, confidence, and body image. Consequently, hair replacement is a huge industry. However, hair loss can also be a sign of a medical problem.
Significant baldness strikes about half of men aged 50 years. By age 70, the majority of men have the characteristic monk hairline—bald on top with hair only around the temples and back of head.
Most men feel some attachment to their hair, so when it starts coming out it is not uncommon to feel a loss attractiveness. Hair is an important component of one's looks, health, and sexuality. How someone feels about themselves can affect their interactions with others. However, all is not lost. In today's world, a completely shaven head—like that of Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Patrick Stewart, or Michael Stipe of REM—can be the picture of manly virility.
For most men, the dreaded loss of hair starts with a receding hairline and, with time, results in hair that covers only the back of the neck and just over the ears. If balding starts in the teen years, it is usually extensive. Some balding men only call attention to their condition by growing the hair above their ears very long and then combing the scant strands across their glistening domes. Others just wear hairpieces.
So, what causes hair loss? The male hormone androgen interrupts the natural growth cycle of hair in the front and crown regions of the scalp, but it does not happen without genetic predisposition. All you need to do is check your family tree. The most dominant part of your hair inheritance comes from your mother. If you want a view into your future, look to your mother's father and brothers.
Be careful not to assume that you have male pattern baldness because you are losing some hair. That hair loss could also be a sign of low serum iron, an early indication of a blood condition. Think about the medications you are taking. Losing your hair may be a side effect from taking certain medications, such as those that treat high blood pressure. Other medications include beta-blockers or anticancer preparations.
Hair loss may be a sign of a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism. If you want to talk with a doctor, dermatologists are best suited to evaluate hair loss.
You can also lose a lot of hair during times of intense stress. Being shipped off to a war, losing a job, being hospitalized, or the rigors of divorce court can cause a type of balding.
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.