Q&A: What Are Uncommon Causes Of Male Balding?
Q: What are uncommon causes of balding in men? – E.O.
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A: Balding in men is both genetic and associated with the male sex hormones called androgens. Androgens have many functions, one of which is to regulate hair growth.
Each strand of hair grows out of a little hole in your skin called a follicle. Normally, an individual strand of hair grows for two to six years, goes through a resting stage for several months, falls out, and is replaced by a new hair strand. When balding occurs in men , the hair follicle becomes smaller. It grows shorter and finer strands, and eventually stops growing hair altogether. The common cause of this is heredity.
While heredity may be a common factor, doctors don’t always know why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth period than others. However, several other uncommon factors may influence hair loss in men:
- Hormones, such as abnormal levels of androgens (male hormones normally produced by both men and women)
- Stress, illness, and childbirth can cause temporary hair loss. Ringworm caused by a fungal infection can also cause hair loss.
- Drugs, including chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, blood thinners, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and birth control pills, can cause temporary hair loss.
- Burns, injuries, and X-rays can cause temporary hair loss. In such cases, normal hair growth usually returns once the injury heals.
- Autoimmune disease may cause alopecia areata. In alopecia areata, the immune system revs up for unknown reasons and affects the hair follicles. In most people with alopecia areata, the hair grows back, although it may temporarily be very fine and possibly a lighter color before normal coloration and thickness return.
- Cosmetic procedures, such as shampooing too often, perms, bleaching, and dyeing hair can contribute to overall hair thinning by making hair weak and brittle. Tight braiding, using rollers or hot curlers, and running hair picks through tight curls can also damage and break hair. However, these procedures don’t cause baldness. In most instances hair grows back normally if the source of the problem is removed. Still, severe damage to the hair or scalp sometimes causes permanent bald patches.
- Medical conditions. Thyroid disease, lupus, diabetes, iron deficiency, eating disorders, and anemia can cause hair loss, but when the underlying condition is treated the hair will return.
- Diet. A low-protein diet or severely calorie-restricted diet can also cause temporary hair loss.
There are two medications that may help recover some of the hair that was lost: a form or lotion called minoxidil (the brand name is Rogaine) or a prescription pill, finasteride (Propecia).
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