We’ve all been there. Early one weekend morning, pruning ourselves in the mirror when we happen to notice that our forehead looks a lot larger than it usually does. “Am I going bald?” you ask as you desperately try and comb your hairline forwards, or worse, to the side Bobby Charlton style.
It’s a traumatic experience (unless you’re Bruce Willis) that happens to a lot of men, and most people will tell you it’s down to genetics. But what if you don’t have a bald dad? In fact, what if nobody in your family is bald and you’re the only one losing your barnet?
According to Hair Transplant Surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga, here’s why it could be happening to you and how you could avoid it.
The bald gene comes from your mum's side
Yup, just because your Dad has the flowing mane of a Greek god doesn’t mean that you’re destined for luscious locks. The main cause of hair loss is indeed due to genetics but the most prominent gene tends to reside on your Mum’s side. Which could explain a lot. On the plus side, the hair loss gene usually only survives around seven generations so there’s a chance it could die before it gets to you.
An underlying medical condition
Hair loss can be a symptom of a number of possible underlying medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, anemia or even lupus. Lupus is a skin and connective tissue disorder, which causes the body’s own immune system to fight against hair growth. If you are diagnosed with one of these underlying medical issues (and the earlier the diagnosis, the better) then in many cases you will be able to seek treatment and the hair loss, as a result, can be reversed.
The hormone directly involved in alopecia is dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a testosterone formed hormone. DHT decreases the length of the growing cycle so that with each new cycle the hair shaft becomes progressively smaller. If your hormones aren't balanced, this could explain the gradual thinning of the hair on the head. A doctor can advise on correcting your hormone balance.
Genes and hormones are not enough by themselves to cause baldness. Hair loss occurs when the susceptible follicles are exposed to DHT over a period of time. However, the age at which this process starts differs from person to person. Usually, if the main cause of hair loss is genetic, then this will likely affect men in their younger years. Pro-longed exposure to DHT, however, is likely to take effect after the age of 50. It's generally accepted that by this age, over half the male population will have experience some form of hair loss, so if it's hitting you at this stage it's nothing major to worry about.
A poor diet can directly impact hair loss. It can lead to a deficiency of Vitamin B, Vitamin D, Iron and Zinc and it may also cause anaemia. Protein shakes and Creatine, often used in the gym, can also have a detrimental effect on hair growth. These products have hormones inside and growth factors that provoke more severe hair loss and thinning for those men that are predisposed to hair loss. Maintaining a diet that is naturally high in protein rather than supplementing is a good way of keeping the hair strong and healthy. Try to incorporate foods like lean meat, fish and eggs into a balanced diet to ensure you get all the nutrients needed for good health and thus healthy hair.
Not washing your hair enough can have an adverse effect on its health and growth rate. Contrary to popular belief, it’s important to wash your hair every day. But, on the flipside, washing hair regularly with very hot water can traumatise it and cause it to break, stripping it of its nutrients. Over time, this can seriously damage hair and curtail its growth. I recommend using a natural, chemical-free shampoo daily and a deep conditioner (yes, gentleman, a deep conditioner) two to three times a week. Look out for conditioners with a low PH level and those which contain agents such as sodium PCA, sodium lactate, glycerine and propyleneglycol, as these are the best for retaining moisture.
If you use a lot of gel or hair wax over long periods of time, this can clog the pores on the head and the follicles on the scalp. Over many years, this can impact the health of the hair and could stunt its growth to some degree. To counter-act this, reduce the amount of time you spend with wax/gel in your hair, wash your hair daily and never sleeping with gel or wax in your hair. Avoid reaching for straighteners too, as heated products damage and break the hair strands and slow the growth of the hair.