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Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
For many guys, hair loss is the first sign of aging they notice, whether it’s a bald patch around the crown or a receding hairline.
Hair loss can be particularly difficult to deal with because it often starts early. In fact, according to research data, 16 percent of men aged from 18 to 29 already show some signs of moderate or extensive hair loss.
Losing your hair at any age is difficult, but when it happens in your teens, 20s or 30s it can be downright distressing. In the end, however, you have more options than you may think when it comes to how you respond.
Here are 7 useful ways of dealing with hair loss:
Put things in perspective
Be practical about it
Find a style that suits you
Be careful when caring for your hair
Try talk therapy if you’re feeling depressed or anxious
Use FDA-approved medications like finasteride and minoxidil
Consider hair transplantation surgery
Below, we’ve looked at each of these suggestions more in depth to give you a better understanding of how to keep your confidence if you’re starting to see a few extra hairs on your pillow or at the bottom of the shower drain every morning.
We’ve also explained why hair loss happens, as well as the most common types of hair loss you may experience in your 20s, 30s, 40s or later in life.
While hair loss can have a severe impact on your confidence, the good news is that it doesn’t need to have a long-term effect on how you think, feel and behave.
Hair loss isn’t a death sentence for your confidence, your love life or your ability to enjoy life in general. For proof, just look at the hundreds of bald male celebrities, entrepreneurs and other notable people who’ve gone bald. You think they’re anxious about it?
The other good news is that if you act promptly, hair loss doesn’t need to be permanent. We’ve shared more about this further down the page -- with the right approach, it’s usually possible to protect yourself from further hair loss and even restore your lost hair.
Though you may not be able to choose how much hair you lose or how quickly it happens, you can choose how you let it affect you.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying that "you are your own worst critic," and it’s definitely true -- you are harder on yourself than anyone else is. This also means that you probably view your hair loss more critically than others do.
For you, your hair loss might be an unwanted change that you can’t help but see every time you look at yourself in the mirror. Meanwhile, for others, it might just be part of your appearance -- a specific feature that makes “you” you.
While it may be unpleasant, hair loss isn’t dangerous – it doesn’t pose a threat to your life, or have any negative impact on your health.
As such, one of the best ways to deal with hair loss is to simply be pragmatic about it. Accept that it’s happening, find a way to make it work and make it a positive feature, not a weakness that you feel uncomfortable about.
Remember, hair loss is a genetic and hormonal condition -- it’s not a deadly disease or a real disability. Make it part of you. Learning to live with hair loss can be a psychological challenge, but it’s only as difficult as you make it.
Contrary to popular belief, developing a receding hairline or some thinning on the top of your head doesn’t mean that you can no longer rock a stylish haircut.
The key is to choose a style that suits your hair. Instead of going for something that requires a low hairline or lots of thickness, choose a hairstyle for thinning hair, such as a buzz cut, quiff or skin fade.
For receding hairlines, try growing out the hair at the front of your head and comb it backward, or cutting your hair short on the sides to make your hairline less obvious. If you’re developing a bald spot on one side of your head, try parting your hair to that side.
The key is to choose a style that suits the hair you have, not the hair you want. Pick something that suits you and wear it with confidence -- with the right attitude, you can turn your hair into a strong point, not a weak one.
If all else fails, you can always shave your hair off. The “nuclear option” for baldness often looks pretty good, and you’ll save a small fortune in hair styling fees over the next few decades.
If you’re losing hair because of a nutritional deficiency, or due to the effects of cancer treatment, it’s important to be careful with how you style and care for your hair.
Simple things that you can do to prevent putting pressure on your hair follicles include brushing carefully with a wide-toothed comb instead of a regular hairbrush, avoiding hair dryers (let your hair dry naturally instead) and using gentle hair products to wash or style your hair.
If your hair falls out at night, try wearing a hair net or using a satin pillowcase to reduce putting any unwanted tension on your hair roots.
While these techniques won’t necessarily stop hair loss, they can prevent you from pulling out weak hairs accidentally.
If your hair loss is having a major impact on the way you think, feel or behave, it’s okay to seek professional help.
Research suggests that people with hair loss often have higher-than-average levels of anxiety and depression. This is very understandable given the impact that losing your hair can have on your self-perception.
Talking to a therapist or other mental health professional can help you to put your hair loss in context, deal with negative feelings and work out your next steps.
You can find a therapist by searching in your city or by asking your primary care provider for a referral. You can also use our online talk therapy service to take part in therapy with a licensed provider from the comfort and privacy of your home.
Almost all hair loss, from male pattern baldness to telogen effluvium, is treatable. By acting as early as you can, you might be able to stop your hair loss from getting worse and even regrow hair in thinning areas such as your hairline or crown.
We’ve listed the best ways to prevent and treat hair loss below, along with the science on how each treatment option works.
If you’re starting to develop a receding hairline, hair thinning or other early signs of male pattern baldness, the most effective medication that you can add to your hair loss prevention arsenal is finasteride.
Finasteride is an oral medication for hair loss. It works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT, the hormone that can damage your hair follicles and stop your hair from growing.
Used daily, finasteride is highly effective at preventing and treating male pattern baldness. In a long-term study from Japan, more than 90 percent of balding men who used finasteride saw an improvement in their hair’s appearance.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
If finasteride is the most effective medication you can use to stop hair loss, minoxidil is definitely its partner in crime.
Minoxidil is a topical hair loss medication. Instead of blocking DHT production, it works locally by moving your hair follicles into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle and improving the local blood flow to your scalp.
Like finasteride, minoxidil is backed up by a wealth of research. In fact, in one study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, researchers found that 94.1 percent of balding men who used minoxidil and finasteride together experienced improvements in hair growth over 12 months.
If you have more noticeable hair loss, or if you’re looking for fast results, you may want to look into hair transplant surgery.
This cosmetic procedure involves harvesting hair follicles from the back and sides of your scalp, then using them to restore your hairline or crown. Performed by a good hair transplant surgeon, this type of surgery can produce natural, aesthetically pleasing results.
The biggest disadvantage to hair transplantation is that it doesn’t come cheap, nor does it offer any protection against future hair loss. You’ll also need a reasonable amount of hair left -- if you have complete hair loss, this may not be the best option for you.
The first step in dealing with hair loss is working out what’s causing you to lose hair, as well as whether or not your hair loss is likely to be permanent.
Although we often think of all hair loss as the same thing, there are actually numerous different types of hair loss that can affect men. Each type of hair loss can cause different symptoms and may require its own unique, targeted form of treatment.
We’ve listed the most common forms of hair loss below, as well as the specific factors that can cause each one.
The most common type of hair loss in men is known as androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.
You’ve probably heard of this type of hair loss before. It usually starts at your hairline or crown, then gradually progresses to more noticeable thinning. Over time, it results in the classic “back and sides” hair pattern, with thick hair on the sides of your head and little to nothing on top.
Male pattern baldness is largely caused by a combination of genetic factors and the effects of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Over time, DHT can bind to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to “miniaturize,” or shrink. As the hair follicles become smaller, they eventually stop producing new hairs, leading to noticeable hair loss.
Our guide to DHT and male hair loss describes the effects of DHT in greater detail and explains how DHT is produced in your body.
Hair loss from male pattern baldness is permanent, meaning it’s important to detect it early and take a proactive approach to treatment. We’ve shared several treatment options for this form of hair loss further down the page.
Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair shedding. It’s a reactive process that’s caused by external stressors, such as infections, nutritional deficiencies, surgery, illnesses that cause you to develop a fever and sudden changes in your levels of certain hormones.
Unlike male pattern baldness, telogen effluvium doesn’t damage your hair follicles. Instead, the hair loss from telogen effluvium occurs when your hairs suddenly transition from the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle into the telogen, or resting, phase.
Instead of a receding hairline or bald patch, telogen effluvium usually produces diffuse thinning that affects your entire scalp.
Hair loss from telogen effluvium is only temporary. However, even after you treat the underlying cause of your hair loss, it can take months for your hair to grow back as normal.
Anagen effluvium is another form of temporary hair shedding. Unlike telogen effluvium, which is often caused by illnesses or trauma, anagen effluvium is almost always caused by medications, particularly cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Because of this association, anagen effluvium is occasionally called chemotherapy-induced hair loss.
Like telogen effluvium, anagen effluvium occurs when your hair’s growth cycle is interrupted. In this case, the effects of medication affect the growth of the hair shaft, causing your scalp, facial, body and pubic hair to shed prematurely.
Anagen effluvium hair loss usually occurs quickly. If you’re prescribed medication that can cause this type of hair loss, you may notice shedding within 14 days of the start of your treatment.
Like other forms of hair shedding, anagen effluvium is not permanent. Once you no longer need to take medication, your hair will eventually grow back to normal.
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Alopecia areata is a form of autoimmune hair loss. It usually causes small, round or oval-shaped bald patches to develop on your scalp. Sometimes, it may also cause you to shed hair on your face, limbs and torso.
Like other types of autoimmune disease, alopecia areata is caused by your own immune system attacking a certain part of your body -- in this case, your hair follicles.
You might have a higher risk of developing this form of hair loss if you have a blood relative with alopecia areata, or if you have asthma, thyroid disease or certain other conditions.
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that’s caused by repeated tension or pulling on your hair roots. It’s most common among African-Americans, as well as gymnasts, military personnel and other people who need to wear their hair in a tight, pulled-back style.
Most of the time, traction alopecia starts as small white or flesh-colored bumps, with hair loss at your hairline.
You may be at risk of this type of hair loss if you wear your hair in braids, dreadlocks, cornrows or other styles that pull on the roots, or if you style your hair with strong hold gel or wax.
Hair loss from traction alopecia may become permanent if left untreated, making it important to treat this form of hair loss as soon as you notice early symptoms.
A diverse range of other conditions, health issues and habits can cause you to shed hair, from scalp infections such as tinea capitis to anxiety-related disorders like trichotillomania, a form of chronic hair pulling.
Related Read: Causes of White Hair
Male pattern baldness is a physical, aesthetic issue. However, like lots of other conditions that affect your appearance, it can also produce psychological effects such as depression, anxiety and a negative impact on your self-esteem.
In fact, research has found that many of the psychological effects of hair loss are hard to treat through conventional means.
So, why is hair loss so devastating mentally for many guys? Researchers believe that it could be due to a feeling of loss, as well as the change in a person’s perception of themselves that can occur when their appearance changes.
There’s also a cultural element to hair loss. Over the years, hairstyles have gone in and out of fashion. However, one thing remains unchanged -- hair plays an important role in any person’s self-confidence, and a full head of hair is often considered a measure of good looks.
Losing this part of your aesthetic identity can feel like a serious blow, especially when it occurs relatively early in your life. For some guys, severe hair loss may even trigger body dysmorphic disorder, a condition in which a person experiences strong anxiety about their looks.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
You may not have a choice about losing your hair, but you can choose how you respond. One option is to live in denial and allow your hair loss to hurt your confidence, lower your quality of life and get in the way of your ability to feel happy and fulfilled.
The other option is to accept hair loss as a part of your life and if necessary, start taking action to get it under control.
To get started treating hair loss, you can view our range of science-based hair loss treatments online and choose the option that’s best suited to your needs.
Confidence is a choice, and in spite of your hair loss, it is one that you should be making each and every day.