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Some things are expected as a teenage guy: You’ll get a zit at a bad time, there’ll be some petty school drama, your parents will embarrass you or you’ll embarrass yourself in front of your crush.
But you may not be prepared to deal with hair loss in your teens.
Male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is most common in men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s (and it affects up to half of men by age 50). But hair loss can actually start in your teens, whether it’s androgenetic alopecia or something else.
Below, we’ll talk about balding in teenagers and its potential causes — and because we’d never leave you hanging, we’ll also dive into the best treatments for hair loss in teenage guys.
You may feel like you’re the only one noticing hair loss in your teens or seeing a receding hairline at 18, but teenage hair loss isn’t all that uncommon. Plenty of people Google “balding at 17” and “why am I losing hair at 14?”
An estimated 16 percent of males aged 15 to 17 have male pattern baldness. Genetics plays a starring role in the development of male androgenetic alopecia.
Male androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness)
Certain illnesses and medical conditions
Lifestyle and environmental factors
Keep scrolling for details about the potential causes of teen hair loss.
Pediatric or adolescent androgenetic alopecia could cause balding in your teens. This is an underrecognized medical disorder, meaning there isn’t a ton of research on the topic.
As noted, androgenetic alopecia is male pattern baldness. As with the androgenetic alopecia adult men get, a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) alters the hair growth cycle with this form of hair loss.
DHT is cool during puberty — it’s responsible for deepening your voice and growing facial and body hair. But after puberty, the hormone may mess with your hair follicles, causing them to shrink (known as miniaturization).
When the follicle diameters are smaller, individual hair strands are smaller, too, so hair looks thinner, patchy and may even fall out.
If every man has DHT, why doesn’t every man go bald? Great question. Your genetics determine how your hair follicles respond to DHT. If you’re predisposed to hair loss (thanks, Dad), you may see signs of baldness in your teenage years.
Some men aren’t as sensitive to the effects of DHT and will probably not lose their hair — at least not from androgenetic alopecia.
Another possible reason for hair loss in a teenage male is called alopecia areata. It’s an autoimmune disease rather than a genetic factor but may cause hair loss that looks similar to androgenetic alopecia.
This condition causes patchy hair loss, often creating a visible bald spot or diffuse thinning all over the head.
Alopecia areata is somewhat common in children and teenagers (most people get it in their teens, 20s or 30s) and might be the result of an immune reaction to one’s own hair.
It’s normal to shed 50 to 100 hairs a day (no one’s asking you to go around counting how many strands you’re losing, unless you’re into that kind of thing).
When the body sheds significantly more hair every day (you’ll know by the amount of hair coming out in the shower or when you brush), it’s considered excessive hair shedding. The medical term for this condition is telogen effluvium.
“Telogen” refers to the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, and “effluvium” translates to “flowing out.” So hair that’s at rest begins to “flow out” — which is to say, it sheds everywhere, clings to your shirt and clogs your shower drain.
Normal, fleeting stressors — like getting a bad grade on a test or a weird DM — aren’t going to cause your hair to fall out. But stress hair loss is a thing. And it can lead to telogen effluvium.
Excessive hair shedding is common among people who’ve recently experienced::
Weight loss of 20 pounds or more
Illness with a high fever
Chronic stress from life circumstances
One of the main differences between telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia is that the former is usually reversible with time and stress management.
“You are what you eat” is a bit of a stretch. But in a sense, your hair comprises what you eat.
Growing hair is like a workout for your scalp — hair follicle cells are the most rapidly dividing cells in the body, so it takes lots of energy to produce new hair. Your hair mostly consists of a protein known as keratin, so getting enough protein is vital for hair growth.
There are also vitamin deficiencies that cause hair loss. Though most people get enough of these nutrients through a balanced diet, you could see hair loss if you’re severely lacking:
Before you start chugging milk and eating spinach by the fistful, it’s best to see a healthcare provider. They can do a blood test to help isolate exactly which nutrient you’re not getting enough of — you don’t want to swing too far in the other direction and end up consuming too much of a certain vitamin or mineral.
Some medical conditions may cause hair loss. But in most cases, the hair loss can be reversed once the underlying cause is addressed.
Illnesses that cause hair loss include:
Autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata
Thyroid disease (both hypo and hyperthyroidism)
Scalp fungus (like ringworm) or any other fungal infection on the scalp
Skin disorders that cause excessive scratching (like psoriasis of the scalp)
Hormonal issues can also play a role in hair loss. Then there’s trichotillomania, a mental disorder characterized by the frequent urge to pull hair from the scalp.
Certain medications can cause hair loss, including:
Antidepressants (like Prozac® or Zoloft®)
Anticoagulants (like heparin and warfarin)
Beta-blockers (like propranolol and Tenormin®)
Anti-inflammatory drugs (like Anaprox® and Clinoril®)
Certain thyroid drugs
Some ulcer drugs (like Pepcid®)
If you’re seeing signs of balding at 16 or 17 and recently started a new medication, speak to your healthcare provider about whether hair loss is a potential side effect of the drug.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, lifestyle and environmental factors can contribute to damaged hair and potentially cause hair loss over time. These include:
Drying hair care products (like those containing alcohol or sulfates)
Free radical damage
Tight hairstyles like braids or ponytails can cause a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia.
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“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34-year-old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid-twenties.”
So your friend made a crack about your hair, or you noticed your hairline is receding in that selfie you took. Here are some telltale signs you might have hair loss in your teens:
A change in hairline
Excessive hair loss after showering or brushing
Photographic evidence of less hair over time
Hair takes longer than usual to grow
Your barber or hair stylist mentions something
For a deeper dive, read more about the signs of balding, which apply to men of all ages.
The good news is if you’re noticing hair loss in your teens, you’ve caught it early. It’s much harder to grow back hair you’ve lost than it is to hold on to the hair you have. Here’s how to slow or stop hair loss in teenage guys.
When you’re experiencing hair loss in your teens, the first step is to seek an expert opinion from a healthcare provider. It’s really hard to treat hair loss without understanding what’s causing it, and a hair loss doctor (or dermatologist) will help you isolate the specific cause.
A few research-backed hair loss treatments are available to help with hair regrowth.
By preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT, finasteride lowers DHT levels in your body and stops much of the DHT-related hair follicle damage that causes hair loss.
For hair loss, finasteride is available as a 1-milligram tablet. Research shows it can slow down and stop hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. Some studies have even found that it can stimulate new hair growth in areas of the scalp affected by hair loss.
Minoxidil (generic for Rogaine®) is a topical medication for treating hair loss. It comes as a liquid or foam and is applied directly to areas of your scalp affected by male pattern baldness.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t reduce DHT levels. It increases blood flow to the scalp and stimulates hair follicles to transition to and stay in the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle. Several studies have shown that minoxidil helps improve hair growth.
Minoxidil is available without a prescription (aka over-the-counter). We offer minoxidil foam and minoxidil liquid solution online. Note that the medication is only FDA-approved for those 18 and older, mostly because there hasn’t been research on younger folks.
Indecisive? You don’t have to choose between finasteride and minoxidil. We sell a topical finasteride & minoxidil spray that combines the two ingredients — and it seems to be more effective than using either solo.
A 2019 meta-analysis found that using oral finasteride and topical minoxidil together was more efficacious and just as safe as using one or the other on its own. Plus, it’s a fine mist that dries quickly, so it won’t get in the way of styling your hair.
Hair loss is often a symptom of a health condition rather than a condition itself. Working with a healthcare provider to treat any of the health conditions that cause hair loss (we mentioned these earlier) will generally resolve the problem — in most cases, regrowth is very possible, though it may take time.
Online therapy is a great place to start if you don’t have a ton of time (or reliable transport) and you’re looking for help managing chronic stress. You could also try calming breath techniques or take a free yoga or meditation class online.
Getting thicker hair can be as simple as switching up your shower products or popping a gummy (not that kind). Here are a few things you can do to improve your hair care routine.
Take biotin. Biotin could help with hair growth, but supplementing with this B vitamin is most effective for people with a true deficiency, which is rare. Our biotin gummies contain more than just biotin — they’re chock-full of folic acid and other nutrients.
Use volumizing shampoo. Whether you choose to take hair loss medication or not, volumizing shampoo and volumizing conditioner will have your hair looking thicker and fuller at the roots. It’s the ultimate fake-it-til-you-make-it solution. Plus, ours smells great (toot-toot).
Try dandruff shampoo. Our dandruff detox shampoo contains a blend of pyrithione zinc 1% and salicylic acid. It can make your hair look flake-free and clean at the root. Plus, a healthy scalp is essential for growing healthy hair.
Consider saw palmetto products. A thickening shampoo with saw palmetto helps if your teenage hair loss is a result of male androgenetic alopecia (the most common form of hair loss in men). Saw palmetto is a plant extract that works like finasteride (so it can block DHT to some degree). But unlike finasteride, you don’t have to be 18 to use it.
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.
It’s never a good time to experience hair loss, but hair loss in your teens can be especially disorienting. But luckily, there are plenty of other hair products and treatment options that can slow hair loss and help you hold on to the hair you have.
Here’s what to remember:
The earlier you notice you’re losing hair, the sooner you can take action to protect your hair and prevent things from getting worse. We’re not trying to put a shine on hair loss in your teens, but you have plenty of time to take action.
Hair loss treatments for a balding teenager range from prescriptions like finasteride and minoxidil (for those over 18) to easy lifestyle tweaks and volumizing hair care products.
By doing your research (precisely what you’re doing now, class pet) and working with a dermatologist, you’ll find the right medications and hair care products to stop your hair loss and maintain your hair as you enter your 20s, 30s and beyond.
Not ready (or not old enough) for prescription hair loss treatments? NBD. Learn more about the best haircuts for thinning hair, and check out these tips for covering a bald spot— no comb-overs in sight.
Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!
Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA.
Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world.
Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time.
Bachelor of Science, Life Sciences. United States Military Academy.
Doctor of Medicine. Tulane University School of Medicine
Dermatology Residency. San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium
Board Certified. American Board of Dermatology
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