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6 Reasons for Hair Loss in Men Under 25 & How to Stop it

Katelyn Brenner FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Sheryl George

Published 02/15/2021

Updated 06/29/2023

Does it feel weird to Google, “why is my hair thinning at 20?” Sure, but we’re also betting your search history had far weirder stuff going on before you started searching whether balding at 20 is normal. 

But if questions about hair loss have replaced, well, whatever you were searching before (we don’t judge), we've got you covered. Whether you’re worried about a wider part or a receding hairline, you’re not alone. 

For more deets, check out our guide to the early signs of balding, but if you’re looking specifically to learn why you’re losing hair in your 20s, dive into this article. We’ll cover some of the reasons for hair loss in young men, along with the best hair loss treatment options worth trying.

While you may think losing hair is associated with an AARP membership, hair loss and thinning hair can begin at any age — yes, even in your 20s. Research shows that up to 30 percent of men deal with some form of hair loss before they turn 30 years old.

Since the most common cause for hair loss in men is androgenetic alopecia, losing hair early on may have to do with your genes. If you’re starting to see signs of hair loss, consider whether anyone in your family also had hair thinning in their twenties for a clue. 

Many different causes can trigger hair fall in men. Knowing the root cause of your particular hair loss can help you pinpoint the right treatment, whether you're seeing your hairline receding or you have thinning at the crown. 

We cover the most common causes of male hair loss in our guide but here, we’ll specifically dive into some reasons you may see hair loss if you’re under 25. 

#1 Cause: Male Pattern Baldness

The most common reason for hair loss in men is known as male androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. Somewhere between 30 and 50 percent all men will experience it by age 50, but as you know, some will experience it far sooner than that. 

Just like how you can get blue eyes from Mom, you can also thank your family history for hair thinning. Genetic factors play a crucial role in how your hair follicles react to androgens, which can cause hair to thin — depending on how sensitive you are to these hormones.

If you’ve seen other family members thinning early on, you likely can blame your fam for your thinning hair as well. 

Male pattern baldness usually comes on gradually. If you want to know what signs to look for, check out our comprehensive guide to ways to know if you're going bald or our guide on male pattern baldness

Stress, Anxiety and Traumatic Experiences

We all know that stress sucks, whether it be a toxic boss or trouble in paradise. But your body can actually respond to stressful events by triggering a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium (a form of nonscarring alopecia). 

Telogen effluvium can create excessive hair shedding and typically causes rapid hair loss. So if you’re seeing wayyy more hairs in the drain, consider if it may be a result of stressful events like a sudden illness, surgery, loss of a loved one, hormonal changes or even drastic weight loss. 

Sound like something you’re going through? Learn more about stress-related hair loss in our guide to telogen effluvium. 

Medical Conditions

Our skin and hair can often reflect what’s going on underneath the surface. Certain medical conditions can influence your hair, including: 

  • Thyroid conditions. Research shows that both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may lead to hair thinning. However, if this is the cause, you will likely experience other symptoms, like fatigue or weight gain for hypothyroidism and weight loss or a rapid heartbeat for hyperthyroidism. 

  • Autoimmune issues: Diseases like lupus and like Hashimoto’s disease can lead to hair loss. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease where your hair follicles attack themselves, can also create small round bald patches of hair loss. This hair loss may not be permanent though, and a hair growth treatment may help regrow new hair. Note that this is the second most common type of hair loss, after male pattern baldness.

If you’re worried that you may be dealing with a medical condition that’s causing your bald spots, learn more about illnesses that cause hair loss in this excellent guide. 

Medications 

Like certain illnesses, specific medications may cause side effects like hair loss. This type of reaction is also usually telogen effluvium. 

If you’ve noticed your hair thinning since starting a new medication, speak to your healthcare provider so they can help you develop a game plan. No matter what, don’t abruptly stop any medications without consulting your doctor first. 

Some types of medications that could be causing hair loss include:

  • Antidepressants (like Prozac® or Zoloft)

  • Anticoagulants (like heparin and warfarin)

  • Beta blockers (like propranolol and Tenormin)

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (like Anaprox and Clinoril)

Learn more about medications that cause hair loss in our comprehensive guide for more details. 

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Nutritional deficiencies

Mom said to eat your greens for a reason — a balanced diet can influence everything from your bod to your hairline. While it’s not exactly understood what role vitamins and minerals play in hair growth, it’s believed that a nutritional deficiency could influence hair structure and hair growth. 

For example, one review of studies showed that supplementing with vitamin D could improve hair regrowth in people with androgenic alopecia and telogen effluvium.

If you think you may not be getting all the nutrients you need, talk to your healthcare provider. They can run lab tests to pinpoint what deficiencies you may have and which supplements could help. 

Nothing beats nutrients from whole foods though, so learn more about what food to eat for hair growth. Picky eater? Our guide on vitamins for hair growth will be a good bet for you. 

Physical damage to your hair or scalp

Hairstyles that pull tightly on the hair follicle can cause damage over time, leading to a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If you’re a fan of cornrows, dreadlocks or braids, you may want to consider looser styles. 

This type of hair loss can be reversed if you stop the tension on the hair follicle. But if you stick with tight styles it can eventually lead to further hair loss and permanent damage. 

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Did your dad ever tell you the early bird gets the worm? Well, moving fast when it comes to hair loss is also critical. This is likely not one of those situations that’ll get better if you just ignore it. 

Thinning hair doesn’t typically happen overnight. Signs of hair loss often occur slowly, typically beginning with a receding hairline or balding on the crown of the head and eventually leading to a bald spot

The earlier you take action — preferably before you see the full bald spot — the more hair you’ll be able to save before it becomes permanent hair loss. It’s easier to keep what you have than to grow new hair. 

Here are some gold standard methods to get your crowning glory back: 

Finasteride

  • Oral finasteride. This once-daily pill is FDA-approved to treat male androgenetic alopecia. Commonly sold under the brand name Propecia®, finasteride helps target dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can shrink hair follicles and cause thinning over time.

  • Topical finasteride & minoxidil spray. This two-in-one spray combines the powers of finasteride and minoxidil to help kickstart hair growth. If you’re not a fan of taking pills, this quick-drying spray might be the pick for you. 

Minoxidil

  • Minoxidil foam. Typically the first line of defense recommended by dermatologists, minoxidil is FDA-approved to treat male pattern hair loss and is available over the counter. You’ve probably heard of the popular brand name Rogaine®.  Because 5% minoxidil has been shown to be more effective than 2% minoxidil for treating alopecia, this stronger formulation might be the better bet if you’re dealing with a lot of hair thinning.

  • Minoxidil solution. This easy-to-use dropper at 2% strength is perfect for targeting patches or specific areas of thinning. 

Healthy Habits for Hair Growth

While a lot of your hair makeup may be due to genetics, good habits also play a role. Here are some of our top tips for getting your hair in its best shape:

  • Remember we talked about that healthy diet? If you think your diet can use a little rounding out, incorporating a supplement like biotin gummies can be helpful. But also make like Popeye and get some more spinach into your diet, too. 

  • Volumizing shampoo and conditioner. Repeat after us: a healthy scalp is the root of healthy hair. If your hair has looked really flat lately, it may not just be thinning. If your scalp and strands are greasy, hair can look lifeless. Picking a volumizing shampoo and conditioner will help give strands some lift and extra body. 

  • Thickening shampoo with saw palmetto: If you have hormonal hair loss, hair care products infused with saw palmetto may be a good bet. It can help block DHT, the hormone known to cause hair thinning.  A review of studies found that topical saw palmetto can help improve hair count in men with both androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium with basically no side effects.

  • Taking care of mental health. Remember that whole bit about stressful situations leading to hair loss? Yeaaa. While bottling up feelings might seem like the easiest route, talking about things with a professional can help manage stress and anxiety. Plus, options like online therapy allow you to avoid waiting rooms and awkwardly sitting on somebody’s couch. 

Hair loss treatments, delivered

We know it’s no fun to deal with losing hair in your twenties, but remember that there are effective treatments you can try to get that lush head of hair back. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Move quickly. Please don’t wait until the last act to make some changes. If you’re noticing even slight thinning, it’s better to get going on a treatment before hair loss becomes permanent. 

  • Find the right hair loss treatment. Whether you have traction alopecia or medication-triggered hair loss, knowing the root cause will help you figure out the right course of action. Hair loss treatments like minoxidil, finasteride or a biotin supplement can be helpful methods to get the (hair) body of your dreams.

11 Sources

  1. Lolli, F., Pallotti, F., Rossi, A., et al. (2017). Androgenetic alopecia: A review. Endocrine. Retrieved from https://art.torvergata.it/bitstream/2108/272636/1/Lolli2017_Article_AndrogeneticAlopeciaAReview.pdf
  2. Asfour, L., Cranwell, W., & Sinclair, R. (2023, January 25). Male Androgenetic Alopecia - Endotext. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/
  3. Hughes, E. C., & Saleh, D. (2022, June 26). Telogen Effluvium - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848/
  4. Pratt, C. H., King, L. E., Messenger, A. G., Christiano, A. M., & Sundberg, J. P. (2017, March 16). Alopecia areata - PMC. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573125/
  5. Drug Induced Hair Loss. (n.d.) American Hair Loss Association. Retrieved from https://www.americanhairloss.org/drug_induced_hair_loss/
  6. Katta, R., & Guo, E. (2017, January 31). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/
  7. Almohanna, H., Ahmed, A., Tsatalis, J., & Tosti, A. (2018, December 13). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
  8. Pulickal, J. K., & Kaliyadan, F. (2022, August 8). Traction Alopecia - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/
  9. Zito, P., Bistas, K., & Syed, K. (2022, August 25). Finasteride - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved June 1, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/
  10. Badri, T., Nessel, T. A., & Kumar, D. D. (2023, February 21). Minoxidil - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  11. Evron, E., Juhasz, M., Babadjouni, A., and Mesinkovska, N.A. (2020). Natural Hair Supplement: Friend or Foe? Saw Palmetto, a Systematic Review in Alopecia. Skin Appendage Disorders, 6. Retrieved from https://karger.com/sad/article/6/6/329/295228/Natural-Hair-Supplement-Friend-or-Foe-Saw-Palmetto
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