Hair loss or hair thinning is a very common, yet always unwelcome condition in both men and women. While hair loss is most commonly associated with advanced age, early-onset hair loss often appears in patients before thirty-five years of age. Recent studies have identified a worrying rise in the incidence of adolescent hair loss. Since physical appearance is of extreme importance to most adolescents, when hair loss occurs to teenage males it can often lead to the development of a negative self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth. Let us take a closer look at the physiological processes behind this type of hair loss and any possible treatments that might help.
Fortunately, there is a treasure trove of knowledge and information regarding hair loss available. Male pattern hair loss has been studied ad nauseam, maybe because most researchers are middle-aged men, and there is plenty of information on which we can start.
HAIR GROWTH CYCLES
Hair growth is mediated through three main stages that determine the length of each hair strand; these are the Anagen phase, the Telogen phase, and the Catagen phase. These phases are all distinct but occur concurrently, which means some hairs will be undergoing one phase, while other strands go through the remaining phases.
Anagen Phase: The anagen phase is the primary growth phase. During this phase, the hair physically grows at a rapid rate. Individual hair strands can remain on this phase for extended periods of time, sometimes lasting years. The Anagen phase affects the cellular structure of the hair follicle where it promotes the formation of brand new hair fibers. The vast majority of the hairs on the head, an approximate ninety percent, can be said to be on an active anagen phase.
Catagen Phase: The catagen phase describes a period of transition for the hair follicle. During this phase, the hair follicle will eventually detach from the dermal layers of the scalp from which it receives nourishment. The catagen phase can last up to two weeks, and during this time all melanin production ceases, and the cellular structure of the follicle dies and then renews itself. Only about one percent of the hairs are ever on this phase at any one time.
Telogen Phase: This is the main shedding phase where the hair follicle enters a state of hibernation and remains dormant for months. This phase will affect around fifteen percent of the hairs at any one time. Growth remains active around the hair follicle allowing it to stay alive until it begins to grow again, at which point the hair is shed before a new hair strand emerges.
He pulled through so can you!
We have another article about balding and hair loss at 17 years old specifically here.
Any interruption or alteration in the natural course of these growth cycles will end up manifesting as abnormal hair loss. There is a reasonable amount of hair loss that is experienced on a continuous basis to the rate of around one hundred and twenty hairs per day. When hair loss exceeds this upper limit we can assuredly say that it is abnormal and that there might be genetic and environmental factors that could be to blame.
THE GOOD NEWS!
Although adolescent hair loss is on the rise, with about 15% percent of teenage boys suffering from this disorder, the good news is that the grand majority of the possible causes are all reversible and easily treatable. Whether hair loss is being caused by hormones, stress, or too much hair gel, teenage boys are at a point in their lives where there is plenty of time to do something about it.
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- Trost, L. B., Bergfeld, W. F., & Calogeras, E. (2006). The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 54(5), 824-844.