First, the bad news. You can’t prevent hair loss when it’s genetic.
About 90% of hair loss in men is androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. That’s when a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) shrinks the hair follicles in genetically prone areas, thinning the hair until it disappears. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Genetic hair loss is very common. About 85% of men can expect to lose hair from genetic reasons in their lifetime.
While you can’t prevent genetic hair loss, there are ways manage, or at least reduce its effects. Treatments including Propecia and Profollica are proven to preserve existing hair. Other options to manage genetic hair loss include hair transplants and wigs.
Now, the good news. Roughly ten per cent of hair loss in men and women is not genetic. That’s one in ten. You can often prevent hair loss when it’s related to lifestyle factors.
This article outlines non-genetic factors that cause hair loss, how to identify these factors, and when they cause hair loss, how to grow it back.
Medical causes of hair loss: Some medications can cause hair loss, including blood thinners (anticoagulants like warfarin), arthritis medicine, gout medicines (including allopurinol and colchicine), biopolar medicines such as lithium, vaccinations (particularly for hepatitis B), amphetamines (including Dexedrine or methamphetamine).
In addition, some medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or major surgery, can cause hair loss.
Solutions: Don’t put yourself at risk. If your doctor recommends a medication that might cause hair loss, take the medication. If there are alternatives that don’t cause hair loss, or at least less hair loss, ask your doctor. But don’t worry about losing hair from medications or a medical treatment if it keeps you healthy, or alive!
Remember also that hair loss from medical reasons is usually temporary, and if it’s not an ongoing medication, will most likely grow back within one to three months.
Diet-related causes of hair loss: In some cases, lack of protein can cause hair loss. In protein malnutrition, the body conserves protein by shifting hair from its growth (anagen) phase to resting (telogen) phase.
Solutions: If protein malnutrition is causing your hair loss, you’re in luck. Eat more protein and it should grow back. Sources of protein include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and some cheeses.
Iron deficiency causes of hair loss: Three major causes of iron deficiency include excessive bleeding (whether in the digestive tract, like an ulcer, or other reasons, including menstruation, or a serious injury), inability to absorb iron (sometimes from lack of stomach acid or removal of the small intestine) and insufficient iron intake from diet.
Solutions: Lab tests can detect iron deficiency. Speak with your doctor about what’s causing your low iron levels when it’s related to your medical history. If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, eat meats.
Hair care-related causes of hair loss: When it comes to hair maintenance, heat and pressure are not your friend. Curling irons, excessive heat from blow dryers, chemical treatments (including dyes and bleaches) and hair styles that pull the hair back like braids and ponytails can all cause hair to break or fall out.
Solutions: Be gentle with your hair. Avoid excessive heat. If you perm or treat your hair with chemicals, increase time between each treatment, to give your hair longer to recover. Shy away from tight hairstyles, like braids and cornrows, and try not to use elastic bands and ribbons to keep your hairstyle in place.
Remember, it’s common to lose 100 hairs a day. Hair loss is most often genetic, but you can often prevent hair loss when it’s from lifestyle factors like hair care or lack of protein. Or more commonly, you can reduce hair loss, even it if is genetic, with attention to proper hair care and healthy lifestyle.