Confronting the harsh reality of hair loss can be difficult. Although hair loss is common and seen in others to varying degrees every day, when it begins to happen to an individual, it can be devastating. So it comes as no surprise that many men report feelings of low self-esteem and depression when they begin to lose their hair. But it needn’t be that way.
Thinning hair, receding hair or sudden loss of hair is a very common experience. The majority of men experience some hair thinning by the time they reach fifty years of age and over half the adult male population has some degree of hair loss.
Accepting male hair loss
It’s widely understood that the most dominant form of hair loss in men, Male Pattern Baldness, is hereditary. The genetic message is encoded in our DNA. Baldness or hair loss has very little to do with a man’s overall health or vitality but men still tend to regard hair loss as a loss of their attractiveness or manliness.
There was a time when having a shaved head marked a man out as a criminal or someone not to be trusted. Men who wanted to conceal their hair loss were left with no other options than a ‘comb-over’ or toupee. Thankfully, these days a buzzed hairstyle is more likely to make us think of film stars than convicts and a shaved head can be seen as sporty or youthful.
Hairpiece and haircuts
For this reason, the first step to take when contemplating hair loss solutions is to consider a shorter hairstyle. Even when hair loss is mild, a barber will be able to suggest the best styles. For example, for a thinning crown cutting hair shorter at the sides and around the back will let scalp colour show through. This can balance the appearance of the scalp on top.
For men experiencing very defined Male Pattern baldness, a hairpiece or toupee is still a valid option. Unlike their predecessors, a properly fitted hairpiece can be worn discreetly and with confidence. Although, suddenly coming into work with a full head of hair, will probably dispel the illusion that it is natural hair.
However, if a man decides, for professional or personal reasons, that he can’t wear a short hairstyle or a hairpiece, he may wish to consider the other options. There are a range of products on the market, which have been proven to help with hair loss.
Medications and supplements
Although hair loss is no longer associated with poor health, a diet poor in nutrients can encourage hair thinning. Low vitamin C and iron are the major culprits. Vitamin C allows for iron absorption in the body and iron is needed in the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen to the scalp, which is necessary for hair growth.
When considering a vitamin and mineral-based supplement, look for standardised ingredients and go with a trusted brand. The product may include a list of other ingredients and nutrients but a little research should help you to determine whether these are needed or not. Many ingredients promote iron absorption, but some may simply be fillers.
Oral medication designed to manage hair loss is also another option. Products containing the ingredient Finasteride are taken once daily to lower dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. DHT makes it harder for oxygen to reach the hair follicles. Similar to pills designed to enable oxygen to reach the scalp, Finasteride lowers DHT and with the aim of allowing oxygen to reach the hair follicles.
In the hair loss prevention industry, Finasteride products are considered highly effective. Studies show that over a 5-year period, up to 85% of users find their hair loss slows down. However, any disruption in taking the pills can lead to the saved hair being shed in the following months.
Creams and topical treatments
Perhaps the best-known treatments in the fight against hair loss are those containing minoxidil. Minoxidil was first developed as a medication for high blood pressure but a reduction in hair loss was identified as a side effect. As it retards hair loss, a treatment program containing minoxidil lotions should be started as early as possible.
Users apply these products every day, some of them twice a day. Having a ritual is the key here as it is imperative that you stick to the schedule. As with supplements, these products prevent the hair falling out and promote new growth, so any break in the treatment will lead to some hair loss. Once you start using these products, it’s safe to say, you will need to continue taking them for as long as you wants to maintain your hair.
Taking an oral supplement or medication alongside using a topical cream is also highly recommended and has been shown to be extremely effective.
Following several celebrity stories, the number of men in the UK undergoing a hair transplant procedure has risen dramatically. Perhaps the country was unsure before as to the results or there were concerns about the stigma of having ‘cosmetic surgery’. Either way, for many men transplants are now a genuine option.
A typical hair transplant recipient undergoes a procedure in which several thousand of his own hair follicles are transplanted on to the area of baldness. These follicles are usually taken from the hairline around the neck, where hair is thickest and after a few months hair growth begins. The results are typically very good but the procedure is usually too costly for most men to consider. Furthermore, as hair loss continues, more areas may need treatment.
Coping with hair loss
While the number of options to manage hair loss has increased, the stigma that once existed around hair loss and baldness has diminished. When a man starts to lose his hair it no longer makes him automatically less attractive or less professional. Whether or not he chooses to disguise his hair loss or to take measures to slow down hair loss is completely up to him. The only important factor in coping with hair loss is in recognising it. This is the first step in dealing with hair loss psychologically and in managing any resultant feelings of low self-esteem.