4 lifestyle changes men can make now to prevent early hair loss
Although there is no cure for male-pattern baldness, some treatments can help slow hair loss and potentially regrow hair if caught early, according to Dr. Susan Massick, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Ohio.
Massick said that she frequently sees patients for hair loss and young men are especially concerned about prevention. The most important thing, she said, is to catch hair loss early in order to keep as much hair as possible.
Massick told Insider that a balanced diet and topical minoxidil are two methods she recommends to patients to help treat hair loss and male-pattern baldness.
A balanced diet rich in protein and iron can help
Massick said that while hair loss can come from stress and an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata, the majority of patients she sees have androgenic alopecia or male-pattern baldness.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 25% of men will notice hair loss before age 21, and 70% will experience hair loss as they age.
Male-pattern baldness is caused by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), she said, which shrinks hair follicles, causing hair to grow thinner and fall out more easily. While there's a genetic component to male-pattern baldness, it can't be linked to one side of the family, she said.
Massick said male-pattern baldness primarily occurs on the hairline, temples, and top of the head. This hair loss happens slowly, and she said it's important to catch it as early as possible in order to keep as much hair as you can.
A balanced diet rich in foods like eggs, spinach, beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and black beans, for example, will help keep your hair healthy and strong, Massick said. Protein is most of what makes up hair follicles and contains iron, which helps the body bring oxygen to cells associated with hair growth, according to Healthline.
Debra Jaliman, MD, board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of Dermatology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai previously told Insider that when the body doesn't get enough protein, the protein that is consumed is allocated towards essential body functions, which doesn't include hair growth.
Put as little stress on your hair as possible
Massick said to avoid putting as much tension on your hair as possible to prevent further hair loss. Hair styles like perms, extensions, and hair straightening can put stress on your hair that can make it more likely to fall out.
She said reducing the amount of hair styling and product you use is also a good idea.
Massick said that shampoos that advertise hair growth are usually not worth your money, because they don't stay in your hair long enough to penetrate to your follicles. She said shampoos meant to treat conditions like dandruff and eczema, which can cause hair loss, can be effective at treating those conditions, but not hair loss itself.
Topical minoxidil can help prevent hair loss when used regularly
Minoxidil, commonly known by the brand name Rogaine, is an over-the-counter medication that Missack said has been shown to help prevent hair loss and, in some cases, regain lost hair. While it's unclear exactly how minoxidil works, it's thought to enlarge hair follicles and increase the body's hair growth phase, according to Healthline.
She said the most important part of using the medication is consistency. "It's not how frequently you do it. It's more the consistency in using it over time. So whatever benefit it may give you, you're going to lose if you stop," she said.
Ask your doctor about oral medications if you're worried about hair loss
If you're concerned about hair loss, Missack said to talk to your doctor about a medication called finasteride, which is usually prescribed to treat both enlarged prostate and male pattern hair loss. She said the medication works by reducing levels of DHT in the body.
Although finasteride can help prevent hair loss, she said by reducing levels of DHT, there is a risk of side effects such as erectile dysfunction and reduced semen production. Missack said while this can be an effective medication, people should make sure to discuss the side effects with their doctor.