Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/9/2021
Finding a few hairs on your pillow or in your comb is nothing to worry about. At least not when it only happens from time to time. When you start to find clumps of hair left behind, however, it may be cause for concern.
Because you look at yourself in the mirror every day, it can be difficult to notice subtle changes like thinning hair or patchy hair loss.
If you were to compare the image you see in your reflection to a picture of your younger self, though, you may not be able to deny it any longer—you’re starting to experience hair loss.
Hair loss affects every man differently depending on a number of factors, but even so, there is one thing every man should do when his hair falls out: Accept it for what it is and start taking steps to treat your hair loss.
Bemoaning your once-luscious locks will do you no good. You need to stop wasting time and start acknowledging your hair loss so you can begin doing what it takes to fix it.
We know it's disconcerting, and the whole "Bald is beautiful" thing might not be something you're keen on.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions. The answers will help you identify early signs of hair loss, prevent it and even help the stuff you've lost grow back.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is completely normal to lose as many as 50 to 100 hairs every day.
After all, you have more than 100,000 hairs on your head, so that isn’t much of a loss. If you’re reading this article, however, you may be wondering: How much hair loss is too much?
To gauge the severity of your hair loss, ask yourself these questions:
When you run your hand through your hair, does it feel as thick as it used to be?
When you take a shower, how many hairs do you find stuck in the drain?
When you brush or comb your hair, how many hairs are left behind?
When you look at yourself in the mirror, does it look like your hairline has changed?
Most of the hair you see circling the shower drain is landing there at the end of its natural life cycle. See, each hair has a normal lifespan, and each hair’s lifespan is independent of the others next to it.
The lifespan of a hair follicle can be broken into three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
The anagen phase is the growth phase, and 90 percent of a normal person’s hair will typically be in this phase at any given time.
After the anagen phase comes the catagen phase, which is the sort of golden years for the follicle. In the catagen phase, the follicle stops growing, and basically just retires and lives out the remaining few weeks of its lifespan.
The telogen phase, which comes next, is the dead phase. The hair is dead and preparing to fall out, and the follicle is resting before it starts the cycle over again.
Unless something is wrong, a normal person will have lost about nine percent of their hair in this phase.
So, maybe you’ve noticed that you’re losing more hair than this. What now? The only way to turn things around and to start re-growing your hair is to acknowledge and accept your hair loss and take steps to resolve it.
Examine your symptoms to determine which type of hair loss you have – this will help you determine the best course of treatment.
There are many different types of hair loss but some are more common than others. Below you’ll find an overview of the top six types of hair loss, and what the common causes of hair loss in men are.
Take a look at this list and compare each option to your own hair loss to determine which type you might have.
Marked by a receding hairline, bald spot on the crown or general thinning on top of the head, androgenetic alopecia is also known as male pattern baldness.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss, caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. This condition can develop in the early 20s, though it may not be visible for several years.
You can notice telogen effluvium by looking for excessive hair shedding or diffuse hair thinning over the whole scalp.
Telogen effluvium is a common type of hair loss that causes hair follicles to prematurely enter the resting phase, according to NYU Langone Health, effectively stopping hair growth.
This form of hair loss is typically triggered by extremely stressful events, medical conditions (such as thyroid or kidney issues), side effects from certain medications or physical injury and it is usually temporary.
Alopecia areata is noticeable in one or more small bald circles on the scalp that move, multiply or grow, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that takes several forms, all of which involve the immune system mistakenly attacking the hair follicle.
The more the follicle becomes damaged, the less it grows. Eventually, hair growth stops and you develop circular bald patches across the scalp.
If you are suffering from traction alopecia, small bald spots may appear on the scalp, or you may experience visible thinning of the hair.
Traction alopecia is different from other forms of hair loss – it is usually caused by constant tension or pulling on the hair follicles resulting from tight hairstyles, such as cornrows or braids.
People with alopecia totalis/universalis will notice total hair loss over the entire head or loss on the whole body.
Alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis are both forms of alopecia areata. The former is characterized by the complete loss of hair on the scalp while the latter may also include hair loss on the body.
Reviewing the symptoms on this list should not be a replacement for medical advice from your healthcare provider.
You may be able to gain some insight into your hair loss by reviewing the above list of symptoms and discussing medical conditions, but only your healthcare provider can make an official diagnosis.
Once you have that diagnosis you and your healthcare provider can work together to develop a course of hair loss treatment.
Learn more about the types of hair loss in our blog.
After reviewing the symptoms from the previous section and talking to your healthcare provider, you should have a pretty good idea what kind of hair loss you’ve experienced and that will be a clue as to what you can expect in the future.
As you’ve already learned, androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss, affecting as many as 70% of men by age 70 and up, according to a study published in AMBOSS.
Unfortunately, this form of hair loss cannot be cured – it will continue to progress unless you begin some kind of treatment.
Finasteride (brand name Propecia) is an oral medication that blocks the hormone DHT, helping to slow or stop hair loss.
In some cases, new hair may grow, but only as long as you are taking the medication.
You also have the option of topical finasteride, a spray form of the medication that is applied directly to the scalp.
Minoxidil, a topical solution, is a vasodilator that opens the blood vessels to the hair follicles, improving growth. It too needs to be used consistently for the best results.
Hair thickening shampoo is also a viable option, but it should be used in concert with other medications. It is important to note that oral finasteride and topical minoxidil are the only 2 FDA-approved hair loss treatments.
If you have telogen effluvium, you need to identify and address the underlying cause of your stress that is contributing to your hair loss. Once you do, your hair may resume its normal growth cycle.
For cases of traction alopecia, the treatment is similar – stop engaging in the habits or hairstyles that are causing your hair to fall out so it can resume healthy growth.
Treatments for alopecia areata typically involve steroid injections, scalp irritants, topical immunotherapy, hair loss shampoo, and laser therapy.
Unfortunately, there is no cure and none of these seems to be particularly effective in restoring hair loss caused by an autoimmune reaction.
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and photochemical therapy are being studied, but there are no conclusive results available as of yet.
If you're noticing an above average amount of hair in your drain or on your pillow, or even if you think you're noticing a burgeoning bald spot, don't panic.
Your head has over 100,000 hairs on it, and it's perfectly acceptable to lose around 100 of them every single day. What you're seeing might not be bonafide hair loss.
If you are experiencing hair loss, finasteride and minoxidil are the most effective treatments. The combination of these two treatments is generally recognized as the most effective therapy for hair loss, particularly androgenic alopecia.
In terms of your outlook for the future, you can expect to see noticeable results within three to six months as long as you continue using the medications on a daily basis. If you stop, your new growth may slow down, stop or fall out entirely.
In general, you can expect your hair loss recovery to be fairly slow, but don’t lose hope! If you’re consistent about following your treatment plan, you may be able to stop the clock on hair loss and turn back the hands of time to regain some growth.