Hair loss is far less stigmatized for men than woman, since most people are accustomed to seeing men with bald or shaved heads. But according to new research, the prevalence of male pattern baldness doesn’t make it any less emotionally painful, especially for those who are yet to reach middle age.
Researchers commissioned by Asda Pharmacy surveyed more than 2,000 men under the age of 35 about how male pattern baldness has impacted different aspects of their lives. The American Hair Loss Association states that two-thirds of American men will experience some form of hair loss by their mid 30’s.
"This is a hidden epidemic - it's off the chart", UK hair loss expert Spencer Stevenson told the Telegraph.
A Dark Cloud Over The Future
Approximately four out of every ten men under 35 admitted to feeling depressed once they started losing their hair, while 36% cited hair loss as one of their paramount concerns.
To gain insight on how much younger men treasure their hair, the researchers asked them which of these scenarios seems most tragic: Losing their home, losing sight in one eye, or losing all of their hair.
For 41% of the participants, they would gladly endure the first two scenarios if it meant avoiding baldness.
A great deal of the men revealed their social or romantic lives have not been the same thanks to hair loss, with nearly one-third feeling significantly less confident to approach the opposite sex. The same amount of participants are now less likely to go out with their friends, while 39% said they have less of a desire to pursue romantic partners.
Why It Doesn’t Seem “Normal”
"I started losing my hair at the age of 21 and it emotionally traumatized me,” Stevenson added. “I didn't go out, I lost girlfriends and really isolated myself, which in turn brought on deeper issues such as depression and body dysmorphia."
The survey found that more than a quarter of the participants have turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with hair loss.
Stevenson suggested the main reason hair loss is so crippling for men is because they don’t know what causes it and therefore aren’t sure if there’s anything they can do to prevent what appears to be nature taking its course.
Only after telling his loved ones about his problem and speaking with other men in similar situations did Stevenson regain emotional stability.
Many men with hair loss are completely unaware of the various, highly-praised treatments available to them, which explains why 31% of the surveyed men are considering hair transplants, something he says should only be viewed as a last resort.
Hope Is Growing Every Day
The survey comes about a month after a team of researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) discovered yet another potential cure for male pattern baldness: activating hair stem cells.
Unlike other cells, hair stem cells produce a metabolite which, once it reaches the mitochondria, will either make energy or be converted into lactate, according to Medical Daily.
In a study on mice, the UCLA team figured out that preventing lactate conversion stops hair stem cell production while increasing lactate conversion had the opposite result.
"Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells," said study co-author William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, in a statement. "Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have the same effect."
The team has reportedly identified two drugs that might have this ability, though it’s unclear when they will be tested on humans.