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Why Do Men Go Bald?

A small "bald spot".
Receding hairline.
Many men will sport a shaved head whether or not they experience hair loss.
A short haircut is often favored by men losing their hair.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Men go bald for a variety of reasons. The most common of these is an inherited condition called male-pattern baldness, which results in hair loss to the front and top of the hair. Over time, male-pattern baldness can cause total hair loss, though many men go only partially bald. Other times, men lose their hair because of medical conditions, malnutrition, or because of medication.

Male-pattern baldness tends to be the result of genetics, but is not necessarily inherited from the man’s mother, as is commonly believed. The condition can be inherited from either parent. It results in high amounts of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that disrupt normal growth patterns of the hair follicles, causing hair follicles to die.

Also, it may be possible that men go bald because of excess of a chemical called sebum that may make hair feel oilier. Sebum has high levels of DHT and may cause clogged pores that damage hair follicles. Frequent hair washing can help reduce sebum, but does not entirely eliminate risk of hair loss.

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Other hormonal conditions can make men lose their hair. High or low levels of thyroid hormone can result in hair loss. Certain autoimmune disorders can also cause baldness. Among these, alopecia areata, where hair follicles are attacked by the body’s immune system, results in baldness in patches that does not follow the normal male pattern baldness hair loss patterns. Total alopecia areata can cause hair loss on the head and on the rest of the body.

Another common cause of patchy baldness is fungal infections like ringworm. These usually occur in one to two spots as a result of contact with an infected pet. Normally treatment ends the hair loss and hair can regrow in areas where it was lost.

Severe illness may also make men go bald. Hair loss may be noted several months after an illness. Further, some men go bald several months after a major surgery, and may not be able to regrow hair that is lost. Intense stress has also been shown to cause some hair loss in men, women, and children.

Medications, especially those administered during chemotherapy can make men lose their hair. Further, certain medications for heart conditions, such as blood thinners, or for bipolar disorders like Tegretol, can result in some hair loss. Some psychiatric conditions, which are difficult to treat, can cause people to pull out their hair and permanently damage the hair follicles.

Malnutrition is definitely related to baldness in men and women, and even in children. Low-protein diets, or iron deficiency may make men go bald. Where genetics do not appear a factor, and even when they are, a healthy diet with protein and lots of leafy green vegetables may slow hair loss. Medications like minoxidil can also help stimulate hair regrowth if they are used regularly.

When men go bald in present day, it is not treated with distaste, since many young men now sport the shaved head whether or not they experience hair loss. However, conditions other than male-pattern baldness deserve attention by a doctor. Baldness caused by fungal infections, thyroid hormonal imbalance, malnutrition, psychiatric issues, or disease all require medical treatment to treat the underlying causes.

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Discuss this Article

anon958662
Post 27

I am 46 and have been bald since I was 19. I would not change a thing. All the guys in my family are bald so it was bound to happen. Just shave the ring of fringe off completely or keep it buzzed very close and tight. I keep my ring buzzed close and tight and have a beard that I keep very close and neatly trimmed as well.

anon954084
Post 26

Oh, please. Having oily skin doesn't contribute to baldness. So many women have excessively oily skin and aren't bald. Sure, both are male hormone related conditions, but sebum doesn't make one go bald. Over washing this sebum isn't a factor either. Washing simply removes the sebum on the scalp at the time; it doesn't suppress its production. Who wrote this?

jamesldooley
Post 24

Male pattern baldness is triggered due to several reasons, hereditary reasons being the primary one. I am treated for my baldness from a hair transplantation center in Toronto known as Seager Hair transplant center and the hair restoration surgery done was found to be quite a success. Health donor hairs or strips are the key element of this treatment.

marcel1983
Post 23

Baldness caused due to hereditary and genetic reasons can be easily cured by undergoing hair transplant surgery. I was suffering from extensive hair loss which led to baldness and I went on to do a hair transplantation at a hair transplant center as I had healthy donor hairs on some parts of the scalp. The transplant looks natural and it started growing after few weeks.

marcel1983
Post 21

There are so many reasons for male baldness, such as polluted work atmosphere, stressed mind, heat, radiation, etc. but the prominent reasons are still genetic. For such conditions, one can try out a hair transplant technique which acts as an excellent solution for baldness where healthy donor hairs are fixed to bald areas of scalp.

We can also try to prevent hair loss by preventing dandruff and applying some kinds of medicated oils.

anon340118
Post 20

I'm glad i don't have the baldness gene.

anon303721
Post 14

I'm 25 and have been messed up for five years now. It's embarrassing. I had long, perfect hair until I was 18 or so, then it went nuts. I wish someone would figure out a permanent solution at a cost that wouldn't make me have to take out a loan, for pete's sake.

anon263862
Post 13

I'm 22 and going bald. I have a receding hairline and as of this year, it's starting to thin out in the back. Honestly it doesn't bother me. I actually enjoy not having to worry about bed head or hat hair and I think I look pretty good.

anon232700
Post 12

There is a cure in the works. Apparently they have discovered that our stress hormone itself is the root cause of male pattern baldness. A gene therapy while still a long time away, will eventually counter this by relaxing the hormone. Thus naturally causing the follicles in our hair to grow back like baldness never happened.

anon178745
Post 11

If they know hair loss in men is caused by DHT, why hasn't the medical profession come up with a drug to counteract it? Is it because the "quack" remedies companies will lose big bucks passing on expensive, often useless hope, to balding men?

I wish I had a cure. I'd sell it at cost to end the undying embarrassment men face. Because we are men, we are supposed to not be bothered, but the truth is, we are scared as hell of losing our hair, at an age where we are losing our looks,and teeth! So, to conclude, could all the witch doctors stop it with their quack cures, false promises and come up with the real thing for once?

anon167646
Post 10

I am a bald 45 year old male who started losing all his head hair when I was 20 but my beard has been getting thicker and longer and I find that women like me better this way than when I did not have a beard and all the hair was on the top of my head. I think it has to do with the testosterone level.

anon151777
Post 9

stress and nutrition are not the sole cause of hair loss -- it's dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which shuts down the hair follicle and that's it. If stress and nutrition were the sole causes of baldness, everybody would be walking about bald. Who does not get stressed out sometimes and miss nutritional meals? we all do.

anon143503
Post 8

Isn't evolution kind of a trial-and-error process? Not every genetic mutation would be an improvement. Many probably actually harmful, some beneficial, some neither harmful nor beneficial. That's probably the case of baldness. Not really beneficial, but for modern humans not a hindrance to survival either; thus it's just one of those traits that got passed down generation after generation.

anon125984
Post 7

Evolution note: What about protect? Doesn't hair play an important role in protection against the harmful radiation of our sun. The top of your head always sees the sun's rays and yes there are hats and sunscreen but not everyone uses them.

Washing frequently note: As reading the article above it did make sense to me because I was told that the act of washing hair can stimulate the scale and hair follicles. With DHT in high concentrations in sebum, that is secreted by hair follicle to prevent hair and skin from drying out can cause a build up and lead to baldness.

If this is your case of baldness (because their is obviously other cases) then reducing the sebum buildup in your hair by washing with detergents (i.e. shampoo, soap) eliminates the oily substance, sebum.

With the combination of stimulation from the actual action of washing your hair (remember to use finger tips and not your nails, don't want to cause damage) could result in the prevention of hair loss.

anon107990
Post 6

i think this is a good website.

anon107580
Post 5

What part does baldness play on an evolutionary scale?

I know the process of baldness is debated but what's the purpose.

I always thought it was for a man not to be grabbed by the hair during a fight or flight. Also to become less susceptible to live and other parasites. Would love to hear others view on this.

anon104263
Post 4

i find it very odd that this article is the only one I can find through a search for male pattern baldness that says "frequently" washing your hair is a good thing. Just wondering why you and the shampoo companies are the only ones who believe this.

cupcake15
Post 3

Sunshine31- There are hair loss treatments for men on the market to help with baldness.

Rogaine is found in most pharmacies and is applied twice daily in order to regrow the hair follicles. It is available without a prescription.

sunshine31
Post 2

I agree that most of the causes of hair loss are related to heredity along with stress and nutrition.

My husband for example, is following the same pattern of hair loss as his father. He also had a stressful job and does not always eat right because he is always in a rush. All of these factors can be contributing to his loss of hair.

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