Hair loss is a common problem affecting millions of people around the world. It can occur in both men and women at any age. (1)
Most women experience some form of hair loss by the time they are 50 years old. In men, hair loss can start much earlier, sometimes in their 20s.
There is no “one-size-fits-all“ cause and solution when it comes to hair loss. Many different causes and factors can contribute to hair loss. (2)(3)
Hair Loss at Different Ages
Hair loss, or alopecia, is a common condition that affects many people of all ages. It is more commonly seen in men than women.
An estimated 70% of men suffer from hair loss by the age of 80, whereas only 50% of women may experience hair loss in their lifetime. (4)
Hair loss in teenagers
Hair loss during adolescence is uncommon, though it may affect some people. Teenage hair loss may begin at 15 or 16 years of age and is characterized by a receding hairline or extensive hair fall.
Hair loss in your 20s
Androgenetic alopecia (male- or female-pattern baldness) is one of the most common causes of hair loss in your 20s. Nearly 20% of men suffer from hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia at this age.
Hair loss in your 30s and beyond
Androgenetic alopecia is more apparent and common after 30 years of age. (4)
Causes of Hair Loss
Here are some of the most common causes of hair loss experienced by people.
Many cases of hair loss are hereditary (passed down in families via genetic factors). Unfortunately, this means that if your parents or siblings suffer from hair loss, you might, too. (5)
Androgenetic alopecia (male- and female-pattern baldness), alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition), etc., are all due to heredity. (6)
2. Pattern hair loss
Male- and female-pattern hair loss is the most common form of hair loss found in a lot of adults. It is also known as androgenetic alopecia and is hereditary.
It is caused by hormone sensitivity in the hair follicles, specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT) sensitivity. Research suggests that this condition tends to affect males more extensively than females. (7)(8)
3. Iron deficiency
Iron helps in the production of hemoglobin in the body. Hemoglobin is essential for the transfer of nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body, including the hair.
Iron deficiency can decrease hemoglobin levels in the blood, which in turn can indirectly cause hair loss. Iron deficiencies can be of different forms, depending on the severity of the condition: iron deficient anemia, iron depletion, etc.
Increasing consumption of iron-rich foods and taking iron supplements can help fight iron deficiencies. (9)
4. Hormonal changes
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a more potent form of testosterone produced in the body. This hormone is primarily responsible for both male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia.
DHT receptors present on the hair follicles are sensitive to this hormone and may shrink in size when exposed to it. Shrunken hair follicles are unable to grow hair, leading to bald patches.
Increased DHT levels may occur due to stress, menopause, thyroid issues, etc. An important factor for androgenetic alopecia is genetic susceptibility.
DHT sensitivity runs in some families and may cause hair loss even at lower levels of DHT, whereas some people may not have any hair loss even at higher levels. (10)
5. Scalp inflammation
Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of dermatitis caused by excessive production of sebum by the oil glands. It can lead to scalp irritation and itching. Scratching the itch may cause hair loss due to damage to the hair follicles. (11)
Excessive sebum production can cause an overgrowth of Malassezia (12) on the skin. Malassezia is a type of yeast found on the scalp.
Excess growth of Malassezia can lead to scalp inflammation, irritation, and hair loss. Malassezia overgrowth may be triggered by excess sweating, oily skin, diabetes, etc.
Remedies for Hair Loss
These measures may help curb hair loss.
1. Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds contain nicotinic acid and protein that help promote hair growth and strength. They also contain some hormone antecedents that may be useful in treating androgenetic alopecia. (13)
How to use:
- Soak some fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight.
- Grind the soaked seeds to make a paste the next morning.
- Apply this paste to your scalp and hair.
- Wash it off with a mild shampoo after half an hour.
2. Onion juice
Onions are rich in sulfur, which helps promote hair growth in follicles. Sulfur is a key component of keratin (a protein found in hair). It also helps boost collagen synthesis, which in turn can lead to increased hair growth.
Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of onion juice in promoting hair growth. (13)
How to use:
- Chop an onion roughly and grind it in a blender.
- Squeeze out all the onion juice using a strainer or muslin cloth.
- Apply this juice to your scalp and massage it for a few minutes.
- Wash it off with a mild shampoo after half an hour.
3. Consume a balanced diet
Your hair requires nutrients to grow. It is no secret that a balanced diet with the recommended amounts of protein, minerals, and vitamins can help boost hair growth and strength. (14)
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and protein sources such as milk and meat, etc., can help you grow healthy and strong hair. (15)
4. Stress management
High levels of stress can cause an increase in hair loss due to the increased production of hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). (16) Try relaxation methods such as meditation and yoga to de-stress and prevent hair loss.
General Queries Related to Hair Loss
Does minoxidil work after 40?
Yes. Minoxidil is approved by the FDA for use in adults up to 60 years old.
The effects of minoxidil on hair follicles are well documented. The metabolite minoxidil sulfate helps increase hair growth with the help of an enzyme called sulfotransferase. (17)
When is it too late to stop hair loss?
It is never too late to regrow your hair and treat hair loss, provided you have some healthy hair follicles left. Early intervention can help cure most cases of hair loss due to the higher number of salvageable hair follicles.
Medical treatments such as PRP, Nutrafol, and topical and oral medicines can be used for hair regrowth. It is important to note that all treatments can only work to an extent. If your hair loss is severe or in a very advanced stage, these treatments may not help regrow your hair. In such cases, you may need a hair transplant.
Hair loss may occur at any stage in life. However, aging leads to a decrease in hair growth due to hormonal changes, slow metabolism, death of the hair follicles, etc. Thus, hair loss tends to be more permanent among older people.
- What is the maximum age limit for getting hair transplantation done for … https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331277625/.
- What is male pattern hair loss, and can it be treated? American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/male-pattern-hair-loss-treatment.
- NHS choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hair-loss/coping-tips-for-women/.
- NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/.
- Chumlea WC; Rhodes T; Girman CJ; Johnson-Levonas A; Lilly FR; Wu R; Guo SS; Family history and risk of hair loss. Dermatology (Basel, Switzerland). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15237265/.
- Hagenaars SP, Hill WD, Harris SE, et al. Genetic prediction of male pattern baldness. PLoS genetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308812/. Published February 14, 2017.
- RC; RSMAGB. Genetics and other factors in the aetiology of female pattern hair loss. Experimental dermatology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28453904/.
- Tamashunas NL, Bergfeld WF. Male and female pattern hair loss: Treatable and worth treating. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. https://www.ccjm.org/content/88/3/173. Published March 1, 2021.
- Park SY, Na SY, Kim JH, Cho S, Lee JH. Iron plays a certain role in patterned hair loss. Journal of Korean medical science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678013/. Published June 2013.
- Grymowicz M, Rudnicka E, Podfigurna A, et al. Hormonal effects on hair follicles. International journal of molecular sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488/. Published July 28, 2020.
- Seborrheic dermatitis – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551707/.
- Saunte DML, Gaitanis G, Hay RJ. malassezia-associated skin diseases, the use of diagnostics and treatment. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7098993/. Published March 20, 2020.
- Review on hair problem and its solution – researchgate.net. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342174156/.
- Trüeb RM. “Let food be thy medicine”: Value of nutritional treatment for hair loss. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8647708/. Published 2021.
- Pham CT, Romero K, Almohanna HM, Griggs J, Ahmed A, Tosti A. The role of Diet as an adjuvant treatment in scarring and nonscarring alopecia. Skin appendage disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7109385/. Published March 2020.
- How stress causes hair loss. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-stress-causes-hair-loss. Published April 20, 2021.
- Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, Leerunyakul K. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: A Review. Drug design, development and therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/. Published August 9, 2019.