New Report Says Stress Can Cause Hair Loss in Men

You can't control genetics, but you can control the lifestyle factors that contribute to hair loss. (Photo: Getty)
You can’t control genetics, but you can control the lifestyle factors that contribute to hair loss. (Photo: Getty Images)

It turns out that the long-held belief that bald men are simply victims is only partially true. A new study by Dove Men+Care Hair confirms there are things men can do to prevent hair loss, and according to 90 percent of the hundreds of dermatologists polled, they don’t even know it. According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 35, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of 50, approximately 85 percent of men have significantly thinning hair.

“Male pattern hair loss is mainly genetic and hormonal,” confirms Matthew Gass, spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists. That said, lifestyle factors do contribute to hair loss, with the biggest one being stress — but not the kind you think. The vast majority of dermatologists consulted for the Dove study say that physical and environmental stresses are also to blame for hair fall.

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According to the study, these stressors include combing (75 percent), heat styling tools (66 percent), overstyling (60 percent) and pulling (57 percent). In other words, typical components of everyday life.

To demonstrate how life’s ups and downs can cause hair loss, Dove Men+Care released a video starring professional skateboarder Andy Shrock, who is seen swimming, playing sports, roughhousing with the family dog, and having his hair playfully pulled by his young son — ordinary activities that can slowly damage hair follicles.

“I would never tell my patients they need to stop swimming in pools or playing with their kids who tug on their hair, but there are simple ways to protect against these elements’ contribution to his hair fall,” said board-certified dermatologist Glynis Ablon in a press release from Dove. The company claims its new Dove Men+Care Fortifying shampoo and conditioner will keep a man’s hair “stronger and more resilient.”

There are also lifestyle changes a man can make to ensure his hair stays healthy — and stays put. “Eat well, and include plenty of biotin and B complexes in the diet,” says Sharon Wong, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokeswoman. She recommends plenty of green leafy vegetables, eggs, protein-rich foods, soy, and fish, which contains omega 3 oils. “Avoid overstyling especially using products that contain heavy fragrances, which can cause scalp irritation and are wax-based, which can block the hair follicles, adds Wong.

Another interesting piece of advice? “Avoid too much meat,” Wong says.

Gass adds: “Hair loss can cause psychological distress. If you feel hair loss is affecting you in this way then you should talk to your general practitioner about it.”

He confirms that one important element balding men often overlook is the sun. “If you are losing your hair it is very important to protect your scalp from sun damage with either a hat or with a minimum of SPF 30 sunscreen.” In the Dove study, 49 percent of dermatologists agree that UV rays can affect hair loss.

And, yes, psychological and emotional stress can play a role in hair shedding too. “De-stress through regular exercise and meditation,” Wong recommends.

Related: How Should Balding Men Style Their Hair?

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