What are the signs if or when you will go bald?

GENETICS STRESS, diet, and excessive exercise all play a part. Here's how to predict thinning hair and what to do about it.

Losing hair is a concern for many men. By age 70, 96-100% of men experience noticeable hair loss— I was the one in five who start balding in their 20s, and one in three in their 30s. Family history can double this worry. But does having bald relatives mean you're destined to go bald?

"You can inherit the genetics for hair loss, and that's often the case for male and female pattern baldness," says Eva Proudman, a fellow of The Institute of Trichologists. "It isn't true that the gene for pattern baldness comes from your mum's family. The gene can come through either side, mum or dad."

Despite having bald family members, there is hope for men who want to keep their hair. "The gene can skip generations, and just because it runs in your family doesn't mean you have inherited that gene," explains Proudman. "If you inherit a dominant gene, you will lose your hair. If you inherit the recessive gene, then you won't. That's why sometimes, in a set of brothers, one will go bald and the other won't."

Research has found 12 genes associated with baldness. "An important one is found within the X chromosome passed on down the female line, so if your mother's father or brothers are bald, you'll likely inherit that gene," says Dr. Marco Nicoloso, the medical director at hair loss clinic Ouronyx. "However, the other 11 are on non-sexual chromosomes and can come from either parent."

How fast is male pattern baldness? Some men might worry about when they will start losing hair if they have bald family members. Unfortunately, there's no easy answer. "Half of men with androgenic alopecia [male pattern baldness] have experienced some hair loss by 30, but it's tough to predict exactly when it'll happen," says Dr Heal in Turkey

If your dad or granddad lost all their hair by 40, that might be when it happens to you, too. However, it can happen later, depending on both sides of the family. Men will also inherit the pattern of their baldness. If your father started balding from the crown, you would, too.

When is it typical to see the first signs? Hair loss can occur at different ages. "I have men coming into my clinic at 14, but I also get men coming in at 70 experiencing hair loss for the first time," says Proudman. "As we age, all of us experience hair thinning. It's not the same as male or female pattern hair loss but is a natural sign of ageing."

Other elements, such as diet, stress, smoking, drinking, and excessive exercise, also play a role. Male pattern baldness is caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a sex hormone. High levels of DHT can cause hair follicles to miniaturise, producing thinner, finer, and lighter hairs until the follicle can no longer produce hair at all.

Excess testosterone production causes high levels of DHT. Studies show that specific exercises, such as resistance and high-intensity interval training, can increase testosterone levels, leading to hair loss. "Sometimes I see young men starting bodybuilding, working out seven days a week, three hours a day, which increases testosterone and DHT levels, speeding up balding," explains Proudman.

How can you tell if you're losing it? If you're anxious about hair loss, especially with many bald family members, you might become paranoid whenever a hair falls. Remember that hair loss is a slow process that takes months or years to become apparent, so there's time to act. Check your hairline regularly to detect changes. Measure from the glabella (the lump above your nose, between the eyebrows) to the centre of your hairline and temples. Repeat these measurements every few weeks. If they start increasing, see a trichologist.

The first thing to do is have a consultation with a specialist for a trichoscope analysis to check what's causing your hair loss. From there, look into treatment as soon as possible because all known options only work for existing hair follicles.

What to do about hair loss If you are losing hair, several treatments can help halt or reverse the decline. Medications like minoxidil and finasteride can stabilise hair loss and stop the miniaturisation of hair follicles. Minoxidil and finasteride prevent testosterone from converting to DHT, stopping follicle miniaturisation. However, some men report side effects from finasteride, including depression and sexual dysfunction.

Be warned that while treatments are largely effective, "some people respond better than others," adds Proudman. "In some, they can fully halt hair loss; in others, they just slow it down. If medications stop working, a hair transplant might be the next step."

Newer options include micrografting, which takes cells from behind your ears to create cells encouraging hair growth, and trichromat, a handheld device using micro skin incisions and acoustic sound waves to increase blood flow to the scalp, reactivating hair follicles.

Regardless of your relatives' hair, yours is okay if you're prepared to keep it intact.

Subscribe to the free Wayne Lèal Newsletter

For the ‘Mid-lifer’, staying motivated to exercise can be challenging physically and psychologically. So please sign-up to my newsletter for my latest blogs, workshops and retreats.
Subscription Form (#3)

Subscribe to the FREE Wayne Lèal Newsletter

Even for a SUPER-A, staying motivated to exercise can be challenging physically and psychologically. So please sign-up to my newsletter for my latest blogs, workshops and retreats.
Subscription Form (#3)
Copyright © Wayne Lèal
Website powered by
Privacy Policy