Causes of Hair Loss

Hair Loss in Men

Most hair loss in men, about 95 percent of it in fact, is caused by genetics while the other five percent is usually brought on by stress, illness or is a side effect of certain medications.  For men experiencing genetically induced hair loss, or "male pattern baldness", a number of hair restoration options, including topical treatments, oral medications and surgical intervention, can help prevent male hair loss from progressing or restore the hair that has already been lost.

At The Skin Center Medical Spa in Pittsburgh, hair loss treatments can be discussed during a private, complimentary consultation.  Once the cause of hair loss and degree of hair loss is determined, a personal treatment plan will be developed to help restore your naturally-growing hair.

Causes of hair loss can be attributed to one of three factors:

  • The natural shedding process
  • Temporary hair loss caused by stress or as a side effect of certain medications
  • Genetically induced hair loss also called "male pattern baldness"

Natural Shedding of Hair

The typical adult has about 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp, and at any given time, about 90 percent of those follicles are in the growth phase.  During the growth phase, which lasts between two and six years, the hair grows approximately a half-inch each month.

As the end of the growth phase nears, the hair follicle enters a transitional period called the catagen phase.  During this time, the follicle shrinks and hair growth stops.

When this occurs, the follicle enters the resting stage or telogen phase. Lasting close to three months, the telogen phase is marked by the natural shedding of hair. Typically, this is the hair that we find in our showers, sinks or hairbrushes.  At the end of the resting phase, the follicle returns to the growth phase and new hair growth emerges. 

Most people shed between 50 and 100 hairs each day.  This hair loss does not have a negative effect on a person's appearance because simultaneously, between 50 and 100 hairs are entering the growing phase.

However, if you notice a sudden increase in hair loss, you should consult your physician.

A lifestyle evaluation and routine blood work can help determine if your sudden hair loss is caused by other factors such as an illness, a side effect from medication, hormonal fluctuations or stress.

Temporary Hair loss

Temporary hair loss can be caused by emotional turmoil, medications, skin conditions, poor nutrition and illnesses. With temporary hair loss, hair follicles will enter the telogen phase or resting phase prematurely, resulting in increased shedding and thinning hair.  Temporary hair loss can be reversed by treating or removing the inciting stress factor.  However, it may take several months to notice the new hair growth.

Male Pattern Baldness

Seventy percent of all men will experience some degree of male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia in their lifetime. Scientific research has determined that male pattern baldness is an inherited genetic trait just like the color of your eyes.  If you are genetically predisposed to hair loss then the hair follicles on top of your head are sensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.

These DHT-sensitive hair follicles are genetically "programmed" to begin shrinking in adulthood.  When this occurs, the hair follicles grow finer hair that is lighter in color, shorter and less deeply rooted. 

In most cases, this "thinning hair" will progress to "baldness" when the shrinking follicles finally stop producing hair. The pattern of progression, and the extent and speed of male pattern baldness is largely dictated by genetics, hormones and age.

For men, permanent* baldness generally follows a specific pattern as suggested in the Hair Loss Classification Chart (see reference document).

Even in the most extensive cases, a horseshoe-shaped fringe of hair remains.  This fringe hair becomes the donor hair for surgical hair transplantation.  This hair is DHT-resistant and when transplanted into the thinning or balding areas it will take root, grow and continue to grow for the rest of a person's life.


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