thinning hair

Hair Loss in Millennials: Are They Going Bald Earlier?

Highlights

  • Millennials believe they’re losing their hair earlier, but the medical evidence is less clear.
  • Hair loss is fairly common, however, especially androgenic alopecia.
  • Options for protecting your hair include better hair care, lifestyle changes, and medication like Propecia.

According to multiple surveys, millennials think they are losing their hair earlier. But are they really? Learn what science can tell us and steps millennials can take to keep their hair on their heads longer.

Are Millennials Losing Their Hair Earlier?

According to multiple surveys, such as one studying 4,000 students in China, some millennials are definitely noticing hair loss. But does perception match reality?

That question is hard to answer. The most common form of hair loss is hereditary and more likely to affect men. The medical name is androgenic alopecia, and it’s caused by too much testosterone.

Your hair is made of keratin, KRT37 to be precise, and it’s very sensitive to androgens such as testosterone. As androgen exposure on the scalp goes up, two things happen to follicles. First, their life cycle is sped up, so they grow faster and fall out more quickly. Secondly, testosterone shrinks the size of the follicle, creating thinner and more brittle hair.

Over time, this wears out the follicle. Eventually, it gets to the point where it gives up and stops growing.

As they have more androgens as part of their system, men are more likely to lose their hair, although we should note women have (and need) androgens as well. There are other causes of hair loss, such as medical conditions or other dramatic changes to your body, but if you’re slowly losing hair from the crown of your head, you most likely have it in your genes.

Yet, there’s very little we know about the specific timing. While aging also contributes to hair loss, androgenic alopecia doesn’t have a specific point where it sets in. So the question is, can something speed up the clock?

Factors In Hair Loss

There are a few other factors that can drive hair loss, including:

  • Stress: While you may not literally be tearing your hair out, stress has multiple health impacts that can affect your body and have an indirect impact on hair loss.
  • Diet: Nutrient deficiency has been found to be a factor in hair loss, although it’s more likely to be an issue if you don’t have enough to eat, period. Otherwise, there isn’t a food you should stop eating, but your overall dietary habits can place more strain on your body or lift that weight from your shoulders, literally.
  • Chronic conditions: Androgenic alopecia can be aggravated by other conditions that need more of the body’s resources to manage. Diabetes, lupus, sarcoidosis, and any other severe chronic illness can cause your hair to fall out.
  • Mistreatment: Heavy use of hair products, like dyes or treatments, can kill follicles and thin out your hair. Certain hairstyles, like the “man bun,” can also put strain on follicles and cause them to fail earlier.

It’s possible that millennials are losing their hair more quickly than previous generations because of changes in stress levels, dietary choices, and even hair styles from those of our fathers and grandfathers. But to the best of our knowledge, there are no studies that bear this out.

Fortunately, we now know what to look for when researching hair loss. Doctors have only been seriously looking at what causes androgenic alopecia since World War II, and even in the last ten years, our understanding of how it functions has changed substantially. The expanding popularity of personal genetic tests has increased our understanding of the process still further.

While before, we just assumed our locks were going to stick around, now we know better and are more likely to spot a thinning crown. That knowledge means men can start to take action now, instead of later.

How Millennials Can Keep Their Hair

  • Don’t panic. Androgenic alopecia affects each person differently and generally unfolds over a long time frame. You’ve got plenty of time to figure out what you want to do with your hair, so stop, take a breath, and evaluate your options.
  • Check with your doctor. If your hair is thinning fast, worry about your health first. If you’re experiencing other symptoms in addition to hair loss or find your hair is thinning much faster than it should, get checked out and make sure you don’t have other medical issues first.
  • Treat your hair well. Avoid using harsh hair products, especially bleaches like hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals act on the melanin in your hair and have other chemical effects on your scalp that aren’t necessarily positive or even well understood. So use hair-friendly dyes, or consider a wig for that costume. And avoid hairstyles that pull hard or otherwise abuse your hair.
  • Make some lifestyle changes. Caring for your body with a good diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, and using emotional health care resources can do wonders for your entire body, not just your hair.

  • Try Propecia. Propecia (generic name finasteride) goes straight to the source of the problem with androgenic alopecia. It’s an antiandrogen, a 5α-reductase inhibitor to be specific, and it’s designed to limit the androgens that weaken your hair.
  • Despite some jokes you may have heard, the side effects of finasteride are rare, and it’s also a well-understood medication, having been on the market since 1992. That said, it’s not for everyone; if you have a history of prostate cancer in your family, or a history of hormonal disorders, your doctor may tell you to stay away.
  • Still, for most men, finasteride is usually prescribed with a telehealth consult and a brief discussion of what to look for. So if your hair is beginning to thin on top, making a phone call to a doctor may help keep it on your scalp.

To buy Propecia or finasteride and learn more about androgenic alopecia, visit our hair restoration page.

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