What causes hair loss?

Ever wondered what the causes of hair loss are? All of us shed between 50 – 100 hairs a day, but for some men, these seem to stop growing back. According to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, male pattern baldness affects 30% of white men under the age of 30, and the percentage keeps increasing with age. Sadly, the symptoms of androgenic alopecia (the official name of male pattern baldness) can begin as early as age 20.

If you are suffering from the condition right now, you might be running your hands through your hair and seeing a few too many falling out. Maybe you are looking in the mirror and thinking that hairline was closer to your eyebrows last month. Alternatively, you are noticing annoyingly thinner strands around the crown of your head. So, why is this happening?

Hair loss can result from a range of factors such as medical conditions, hormonal imbalances or your genetics. We’ve put together a list of the top causes of hair loss to give you a better understanding of what is going on up there.

Causes of your hair loss – Genetics

The most common causes of hair loss are the result of your body becoming increasingly sensitive to androgens, a type of male sex hormone. One of these androgens is a by-product of testosterone named Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Over time, DHT latches onto the hair follicles and causes them to shrink. This results in thinning around the crown and hairline, and lighter pigment in the hair. How sensitive you are to these androgens is determined by your genetic makeup.

It has long been argued our mothers pass down that alleged balding “gene” on the X-chromosome and can make us more sensitive to DHT, but it seems both parents are to blame. In fact, “to assess your chances for hair loss, look at all relatives in your mother’s and father’s families,” states Dawn Davis, a doctor from the Mayo Clinic’s dermatology department. The more family members who have hair loss, the more likely it is you will inherit this condition. Your genetic makeup also determines how quickly you lose your hair and when you will start balding.


Stress can also cause hair loss and is considered the second most significant contributing factor after genetics. Whether the stress is emotional or physical, the body reacts by releasing a large amount of adrenaline. This transmits a signal to the hair follicles, which causes them to enter the telogen (resting) phase early, where they stay for three months.

During this phase, there is no new hair growth, leading to uneven hair growth pattern, thinning hair and then hair loss all over the scalp.

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Causes of hair loss – Lifestyle

If the above two causes of hair loss are out of the question, your lifestyle might be to blame. We have roughly 120,000 hairs on our head and our body needs protein, minerals and nutrients to help keep them rooted.

Medical drugs

So, you have a healthy lifestyle, are not genetically predisposed to hair loss and are pretty stress-free right now. Sounds great, but then why are you still losing your hair? It might be worth looking inside your bathroom cabinet for the answer to the causes of hair loss. Research has found certain medications are very harmful to the hair follicle which means the cells responsible for growth are damaged. Some of these medications include:

– Beta-blockers
– Antidepressants
– Testosterone and anabolic steroids
– Antibiotics and antifungals – these reduce haemoglobin and Vitamin B levels which cause the hair to fall out.
– Cholesterol-reducing drugs such as Atromid-S and Lopid.

If hair loss is affecting your self-esteem and confidence, you are not alone. In some cases, this condition has been shown to seriously affect a man’s mental health, so it is always worth looking into ways to address it and minimise the impact.



Scott McDougall (MPharm) is a clinical pharmacist and in addition to being Cornerstone’s senior in-house pharmacist, is the co-founder of The Independent Pharmacy, one of the UK’s leading independent online pharmacies.

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