"Plenty more where that came from"
October 20, 2010 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Is baldness preventable these days? For the past few weeks I've been noticing dozens of hairs falling out of my head every day, and I'm a bit worried.

I'm male, 27 years old. I'm in the southern hemisphere, it's springtime, and I've heard of seasonal hair loss before but never really had it, but for the past few weeks something's definately been going on. Every time I shake my head or run my hand through my hair, or even just sitting over a book, I notice several strands falling out. It's not normal.

Call me vain but I really don't want to go bald. I've heard of propecia etcetera and would pretty much take whatever to prevent losing my hair. How soon should I start worrying?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
It can't hurt to go see a dermatologist now and discuss treatment options.
posted by amro at 8:32 AM on October 20, 2010

Hairs fall out all the time, sometimes we notice them, and sometimes we don't. When we worry about hair loss, we may tousle our hair more than usual, just to "check.' Your perception may be confirmation bias. It's more reliable to monitor the thickness of the hair on your head than whatever you notice coming down.

As a 30 year old mildly balding guy, I can tell you that my late twenties was when I first noticed my hairline receding.There are no miracle cures for baldness. Others can comment on the effectiveness of rogaine or propecia. There are also hair transplants (plugs), and even a laser brush, that uses the power of light to stimulate follicles. Personally, I'd just accept it gracefully, keep your hair shorter to prevent combover temptation, and admire all the distinguished bald dudes you see.
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:34 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

I've heard of propecia etcetera and would pretty much take whatever to prevent losing my hair. How soon should I start worrying?

Sooner rather than later. Talk to a dermatologist, as suggested above. The existing treatments for baldness all work best as prevention rather than cure.
posted by jedicus at 8:41 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Depending on your insurance, you'll save $680 dollars a year if you ask for the generic version of finasteride (the drug in Propecia), Proscar. You have to split each pill into quarters, but I'm sure you'll agree it's worth it to pay $10 for 4 months worth of pills versus $60 for one.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're 27--shouldn't you start with a GP in case this is a symptom of something else? (My experience with going directly to a specialist is that they tend to miss signs of other things--"to a carpenter with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." This can be dangerous. It's not likely to be life-threatening in your case, but still.)
posted by wintersweet at 10:03 AM on October 20, 2010

"Dozens" isn't that much. The average human adult loses about 50-100 hairs every single day. If, like you said, this is totally and completely new for you, see a doctor. Start with your regular GP and go from there.
posted by cooker girl at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2010

Are you growing your hair out, or maybe just went a little longer than usual between haircuts? I've found that past a certain length (eight weeks after a "medium" haircut), the stray hairs stick with their mates until combed out or when I run my fingers through. Also, the longer they are, the more noticeable hairs are. My wife has top-of-shoulder-length hair, and jesus christ, you could knit an adult sock with the hair that comes off her head daily.
posted by notsnot at 10:41 AM on October 20, 2010

People lose tons of hairs every day. You shouldn't worry, unless they are all from a specific area, I guess.

Why not go for a natural remedy? My exboyfriend used to rub coconut oil on his head to prevent baldness, as it is a traditional folk remedy. Who knows if it actually worked, but it definitely got him to stop whining about his percieved hair loss. Maybe some psychosomatic results are all you need.
posted by custard heart at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't be willing to try "whatever".
There are hundreds of people (many online in forums) trying to figure out a way to reverse the PERSISTENT Erectile issues caused by Propecia or finasteride. These people sound totally distraught and I would not go near that stuff as a result. Look it up....

Caveat emptor
posted by Studiogeek at 12:45 PM on October 20, 2010

Yeah, doctor - if nothing else to put your mind at ease. They can check your thyroid to rule that out. Could be a number of things or it could just be your time. Could be temporary, could be ongoing.

Before you consider Rogaine or finasteride or whatever, I recommend you start taking pictures of your hairline once a month and see if you see any difference. You won't notice it otherwise because you see yourself in the mirror everyday and the change is gradual. Also be aware of whether you can feel air conditioning on the top of your scalp when you're just sitting there. That puzzled me for a while. I couldn't figure out why it kept feeling cold because I wasn't really receding up front a that point and so didn't know I was losing hair. Turns out I was thinning and later began to really see that when combing wet hair - so my scalp has less insulation than it always had before.

If you still want to try something, talk to your doctor about your options, such as finasteride. Your doctor may or may not have much experience with it. My doctor had only four or five guys on it. They were getting mixed results. A couple of guys regained some, one kind of maintained, and I don't think the other guys saw much difference. I tried it for three months, which is how long they say you should try at a minimum due to hair growth cycles. I got dizzy spells when standing up for about six weeks. That eventually faded away. The more alarming issue was that it made all my junk retract, like I'd just jumped in cold water except it was like that all the time. That was worrying but also uncomfortable. It makes sense I guess, given that the medicine was designed to shrink enlarged prostates and all your gear down there is affected by testosterone. And they talk about other sexual side effects like lower semen production, etc. I quit taking it just to make sure that's what was causing my issue. It was. YMMV.

I've read some fringe reports of bad and permanent long term side effects related to sexual function and emotional state. I don't know how legit or widespread those reports are. But since it definitely affected my whole junk system and because it didn't seem to be doing much up top, I still haven't restarted it. I'll probably give it another go just because I so don't want to be that guy. But I'm leaning towards just letting nature do its thing rather than potentially messing up my innards long term or at least having to live with uncomfortable gear. We'll see. Good luck to you.
posted by Askr at 12:48 PM on October 20, 2010

I'd see a doctor to rule out, as mentioned above, thyroid issues, etc. If those are all fine but you find that you are developing patches of hair loss (or that it's falling out rapidly), you might have alopecia and in that case, a dermatologist may be able to help. My hair started to fall out from alopecia and I was given steroid creams. Mine eventually grew back. Alopecia is really unpredicatable and whether mine came back on its own or as a result of the stereoids is anyone's guess, but my doctor did tell me that those who treat it early typically have the best shot at re-growth.
posted by gfrobe at 4:27 PM on October 20, 2010

Do you have a family history of male baldness? Are your dad, brothers, or grandfathers balding/bald? If so, you certainly have a higher chance of experiencing it yourself.

However, stress can also be a trigger for hair loss. When I was going through my move from the US to Japan, I had an unsettling amount of hair coming out of my head on a regular basis. It clogged up the bathroom drain (not a normal occurrence for me) and seemed to get on everything. But it's gotten better in the past year-and-a-half, and I don't think it was ever noticeable. So, if you've had some sort of major source of stress in your life lately, that may a non-permanent cause of your hair loss.

But if you're worried, go talk to your doctor about it, or talk to him/her the next time you go into the doctor for something else.
posted by that girl at 6:21 PM on October 20, 2010

Examine environmental factors such as change in diet or weight, sleep and stress, etc...
posted by carlh at 6:37 PM on October 20, 2010

I don't mean to be cheesy, but. As a guy much younger than you who is losing his hair: you can try to "treat" it, and think about it every day, is it getting better, is it getting worse, how do I look, how's it coming-- I promise you won't go a minute without wondering about it. OR you can accept that this is a natural part of your appearance, and think about it, well, not as often. With cosmetic issues that have no real cure, "treatment" is just a dangerous route to obsession. I say this not to derail, but to hopefully give you the power to choose confidence over fixation. You will be so much happier.
posted by threeants at 10:02 PM on October 20, 2010

"treatment" is just a dangerous route to obsession

Disagree. I took Propecia in my mid-twenties for roughly 5-7 years. I had started noticing a receding hairline in the last days of college, and I had enough foresight at the time to know that I'd likely be in the "dating" market in my late twenties or even early thirties, and would feel more confident with some hair still on top of my head. Nothing obsessive about that at all.

Here's the thing: Propecia won't bring any hair back, it will only help you keep what you have. My hair stayed effectively at the same levels the entirety of the time I was on Propecia. Once I quit taking it in my late twenties, my hairline began to slowly recede again. I was very pleased with the results, it did exactly what I was hoping it would. I've got a better head of hair in my early 30's than some of my brothers do in their mid-twenties.

Its only obsessive if you make it that way. Think of it like investing in a gym membership or nice clothes - its just caring for your appearance in a thoughtful manner.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:51 PM on October 20, 2010

« Older Mean means and modish modes   |   Help me identify this book/short story/novella... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.