Hair loss in Male Millennials. Is it common?
Whilst hair loss tends to be associated with old age, one thing many don’t know is that Male Pattern Hair Loss can technically start any time following puberty. This is a very common form of genetic hair loss which usually presents itself as a very subtle and gradual thinning of the hairline (or other areas) , almost unnoticeable to the hair loss sufferer until it becomes more apparent for e.g: when one’s forehead starts to appear wider affecting facial framing and aesthetic balance.
This generation is seemingly developing this condition in their early 20’s but WHY?
Science has not been able to point us towards any factors to confirm this. However, the increased awareness and education made available online regarding genetic hair loss, its causes and treatment options are encouraging the younger ones to proactively seek help early. Hence,I am seeing more and more young men walking through our doors looking defeated by hair loss, affecting their overall confidence and outlook on life.
In hindsight, lifestyle does play a role in the rate at which hair thins. Let’s look at the few lifestyle factors that will give us a better understanding as to why Millenials who are genetically predisposed to Male Pattern Hair Loss are more likely to experience hair loss earlier than their parents or grandparents as suggested by anecdotal reports.
- Alimentary issues
Nutritional imbalances have a direct impact on the rate of hair loss. Whilst smoothie bowls and instagram friendly burgers are filling up the social media feed of Millennials today, there are also a growing number of Millennial Vegans and Vegetarians, I have seen countless diagnostic reports suggesting iron and other nutritional deficiencies when investigating the cause of hair loss. While I have no agendas against Vegan/Vegetarian advocates, I would like to provide information and tips to avoid exacerbating hair loss. The human body better absorbs heme iron found in meat and animal products as compared to the non-heme iron found in plants. I recommend a higher daily intake of iron ( 1.8 times higher than meat eaters) . Pairing high-iron foods with ingredients that are high in Vitamin C will enhance your body’s ability to absorb iron. Avoid taking caffeine, dairy, alcohol and foods high in dietary fibre at a time too close to your iron boosting meal as they may hinder iron absorption.
- Fitness regimes
The #fitspo and #getstrong era is certainly more focused on health and fitness but balance is key to almost anything in life. While a diet filled with high protein is advocated by the usual fitness circle, it is not one that will help with hair loss. Consumption of protein shakes and other sports nutrition causes an acceleration in the rate of hair loss in those genetically predisposed. I have personally observed a trend in my patients who have been under my care for while and it is evident that hair thins and miniaturizes at a much more rapid rate during the period of intense workouts where the body is supplemented with daily dose of Whey protein shakes and Creatine for muscle recovery and muscle building. If one is suffering from genetic hair loss, Whey protein and Creatine increase the amount of fluctuating DHT in the body leading to added hair thinning and faster hair loss.
Consume more natural sources of protein and switch out to a plant based protein shake. If hair loss is only noticeable since the workout regime, it is likely that there is an underlying genetic hair loss condition.
- Lifestyle Stress
STRESS affects hair loss and we all know this. In our current fast paced environment with ever growing expectations, “stress” can mean many different things; from daily work related stress from a new project to stress from studying for major exams to emotional stress from relationships. All of the above cause young people to turn to crutches like cigarettes and alcohol as a form of coping mechanism – both of which negatively influence the hair, often making it appear weak and wispy. While stress does not directly cause genetic hair loss, it can impede the process of a healthy hair cycle and accelerate hair loss. It can also cause temporary hair shedding, a condition we call Telogen Effluvium and this will be a cause for more worry. Stress related hair loss that presents itself in the form of physical hair shedding is normal but one should seek help if it does not stop after 2 months.
- Trendy selection of hairstyles
Millennials love the idea of a fashionable statement.
“Man-bun”- as they call it, is quite a popular hairstyle amongst the Millennials. However, this slick looking hairstyle is one that requires you to pull your hair back quite tightly. Some young men I know choose this hairstyle as a way to hide balding areas across the top. However, this hairstyle can cause another type of hair loss condition known as Traction Alopecia, a fully preventable hair loss condition. There is also hype about hair bleaching and coloring. While I do not see any issues with hair coloring, I have seen in my experience how bleaching causes damage to the skin, causing damage to the hair follicles all the same. Again, this is also entirely preventable. The undue strain placed on hair follicles can cause permanent irreversible damage to them over time, leading one to have even lesser hair in time.
With “selfies” being such a huge part of a Millennial’s world, it is not surprising to see more of them becoming conscious about their hair loss. I feel that educating millennials as to the factors that could be causing or speeding up their hair loss is essential. For those already worried that they are seeing signs of thinning hair or a receding hairline, it is also important to know what the viable options are for dealing with it effectively. Anyone concerned that they are losing their hair can seek advice from a medical hair loss professional who, following a consultation either online or in person, will be able to provide a diagnosis, advice and suitable treatment options.