Lifestyle and External Factors - Causes of Male Hair Loss

It may sound strange but lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and stress can cause hair loss. External factors such as pollution, sun exposure and hair products such as bleaching or dyeing are also triggers for hair loss.

Even something relatively minor as a tooth infection can result in hair loss.

So, your lifestyle matters when it comes to having a healthy head of hair. A healthy diet, reduced stress levels and a sensible hair care regime can help to keep your hair in a sparkling condition.


We are all familiar with the saying ‘you are what you eat’ which applies to our overall state of health but did you know that what you eat can affect the condition of your hair?

It may sound far-fetched but extreme dieting or a diet which is lacking in essential vitamins and minerals can affect the state of your hair and even cause hair loss.

Follow a junk food diet or a diet which is high in saturated fat, salt and sugar and low in essential nutrients and the effects will be seen in not just your body shape but the health of your hair as well.

We know that not having the right amount of a particular vitamin in your diet can lead to a whole range of health problems but did you realise that it affects your hair as well? An inadequate intake of a certain vitamin or mineral can impact upon the hair growth/loss cycle which then leads to hair loss.

The message here is one of ensuring that you have the necessary vitamins and minerals to ensure good health.

What about dieting? Dieting especially extreme or ‘crash dieting’ not only affects your health but the condition of your health as well. This is more likely to be a problem for women than men because women are usually more concerned with their weight and body image in general and will try dieting in order to achieve a physical ideal.

One such example of this is ‘crash dieting’ in which a person dramatically reduces their calorie intake in order to achieve rapid weight loss. If this is combined with weight loss medication then there is a risk of depleting vital nutrients which are essential for healthy hair. And the end result of this is dry, lifeless or damaged hair which can result in hair loss. Extreme weight loss can also result in weakened hair follicles or hair shafts which result in excessive hair shedding as part of the hair growth cycle.

This is more of an issue for women than men but men are becoming increasingly concerned with their physical appearance which includes weight loss. If you are trying to lose weight then choose a sensible dietary regime which encourages you to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week via a healthy eating plan.

There are a range of healthy foods which are good for body and hair health. These include:

  • Fresh vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and broccoli.
  • Fresh fruit, for example, berries, apples, bananas and oranges.
  • Dairy products such as milk, eggs and cheese.
  • Lean red meat
  • Poultry such as chicken and turkey
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds

And don’t forget water! It is important to keep your fluids going throughout the day to ensure that you are properly hydrated. Drinking around 8 glasses a day will help transport essential nutrients around your body and your hair which will keep it hydrated.

Reduce your salt intake and consumption of sugary and fatty foods and moderate your alcohol intake.

A diet rich in protein such as eggs, oily fish (salmon etc) and nuts will result in a full and glossy head of hair.

If you feel that you are lacking in certain vitamins then consider taking a vitamin/mineral supplement or include foods rich in those missing vitamins in your diet. Try to ingest foods or a supplement which includes the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamins B6 and B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Folic acid
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Copper

Start introducing a few foods into your diet which contain these vitamins or take a supplement and you will soon notice an improvement in your hair health.


Smoking causes a whole range of health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease and strokes but recent evidence shows a link between it and hair loss.

It is not set in stone but research findings suggest that smoking not only affects the circulation in the body but impacts upon blood flow to the hair follicles.

The hair follicles require a steady supply of oxygen and essential nutrients for optimum growth. If these are disrupted in any way then hair growth will be equally affected. Smoking can restrict or even damage the blood flow to the follicles which impacts upon the hair growth/loss cycle and leads to hair loss.

One theory put forward is that smoking impairs the proper functioning of the body which also impacts upon hair growth. If the body does not function properly then it can reduce its immunity to diseases, bacteria and poisons which are then free to move around the body. And access the hair follicles which affect hair growth.

Another unpleasant side effect of smoking is ageing: smoking ages the body with the effects manifesting themselves as lines, wrinkles and greying hair. And don’t forget that hair loss is one aspect of growing older.

So, if you do smoke then not only think about the affect on your health but what it is doing to your hair as well. Smoking related ageing can result in hair loss and baldness.

The obvious answer is to stop smoking but we realise that it can be difficult to do so. However, there are various initiatives set up to help you with stopping which include nicotine patches, gum and oral medicines.

If you are trying to kick the habit then visit your GP as he/she will be able to recommend a stop smoking plan. Combine this with a healthy diet and exercise and you are on your way to healthy hair.


This is a major issue in the Western world. The problem is that we all respond differently to stress which makes it very difficult to diagnose and treat.

What one person finds stressful another doesn’t and so on. Short periods of stress can be good for us as they tend to keep us on our toes. In fact, some people thrive under pressure and can handle short, intense periods of stress very well.

The problem is when a person experiences prolonged or chronic periods of stress. Losing your job (which is becoming increasingly prevalent), bereavement or moving house are classed as some of the most stressful events in your life. And these can overwhelm someone to the extent that their health starts to suffer.

And this includes their hair health. Stress not only affects you mentally and physically but can also cause temporary hair loss.

What happens is that the body produces hormones such as cortisol and noradrenaline in response to periods of stress which affect the hair growth/loss cycle. These hormones cause the hair follicles to enter the resting stage of the cycle which prevents new hair growth. Your hair will be lost as per normal during the shedding stage but is not replaced by new hair. This abnormal cycle causes the hair to become thinner and eventually fall out.

We have heard of people who have experienced their hair falling out as a result of an extreme situation or trauma and this is sadly, all too true. Hair loss will continue as long as the period of stress, but it can be overturned once the stress is dealt with.

Hair growth will not happen immediately: the follicles stay in the resting stage for a further period of time which means that new hair growth will not start for nearly 6 months. One issue with this is that the person concerned thinks that their hair will never grow back and becomes more stressed as a result which exacerbates the problem! If this continues or the stress worsens then there is a danger of it becoming permanent.

But this is the worst case scenario: you usually find that once your stress has been treated your hair growth cycle will return to normal and new hair is grown.

If you can relax or control your levels of stress then you shouldn’t suffer from stress related hair loss. But if your stress is a result of a major event such as divorce or financial problems then counselling may be required.


Environmental factors such as pollution can lead to hair loss. This is more likely to be a problem if you live in a city but in fact, there are risks in whatever part of the country.

The main risk with living in the city is that of pollution from car exhaust fumes which affect protein formation (keratins) in the hair structure which leads to weaker and easily damaged hair. Plus there is an increased risk of this weaker hair falling out.

There is also some evidence to show that pollution can trigger the start of male pattern baldness.

Live in a rural area? Unfortunately, living in the country doesn’t mean that you are immune to external damage to your hair. There is a link between certain chemicals used by farmers to control pests and hair loss which can also affect anyone living near areas which have been treated with those chemicals.

There are even dangers in the home. Smoke and dust are ever present in our homes and we don’t always realise the damage they can do to our hair. If your partner is a smoker then you are at risk of hair damage from their cigarette fumes or from smoke given out from an open fire. Smoke from cigarettes and/or open fires contains carcinogens which can damage hair follicles which leads to hair loss.

Dust is another problem. It attracts mites which then trigger allergies in humans such as scalp infections or inflammation. The first sign of this is an itchy scalp although this isn’t always the case. And because the symptoms are so mild it can be easy to forget that you have a problem but it can cause your hair to fall out.

We cannot protect against all forms of pollution but we can take a couple of simple measures such as wearing a hat in heavily polluted areas and using a good conditioner each time you wash your hair.

Sun exposure

The sun can be good for us in that it stimulates the production of Vitamin D which is vital for healthy teeth and bones. Plus it makes us feel better as well.

We are aware of the dangers of too much sun which can cause malignant melanoma amongst other things but it can affect our hair as well. Too much sun causes the hair to become dry and brittle which is characterised by ‘split ends’ and an overall lifeless condition.

If you plan on lying on a beach and soaking up the sun then either wear a hat or use a range of hair products which may help to protect against sun damage.

Your hair is also prone to damage from the sea and swimming pools. Going on holiday often includes swimming in the sea or a hotel pool but the salt water or chemicals such as chlorine can strip your hair of essential nutrients which leaves it dry and prone to breaking.

There is another risk which is peculiar to swimming pools only in that the high levels of copper present in the water can cause hair to turn green. So, unless you want to resemble the incredible hulk it’s a good idea to wear a swimming cap or coat your hair with a conditioner before going for a swim. Another way of protecting your hair is to wet it before you go in the pool which reduces chlorine absorption. And get out the pool every 30 minutes or so and rinse your hair out under a shower.

Hair products

There are a range of hair products available which enable us to style our hair in a variety of different ways. Plus hairdressing salons offer a range of services which include highlights, perms, hair extensions and dyeing.

These can result in great looking hair but excessive use of hair products or salon treatments can damage the hair. Hair sprays, mousses, gels and colouring agents are all popular products which are mainly used by women although they are becoming popular with men as well.

Male grooming is now a big business as men have become increasingly concerned about their physical appearance. And the state of someone’s hair is one of the first things we notice when we meet someone for the first time. A healthy, well groomed head of hair is vital at that all important job interview or that first date.

And this is where hair products can help. Gels, mousses, conditioners and sprays are all good at improving the appearance of our hair as well as helping us make a strong fashion statement.

We can also include the various treatments available at a hairdressing salon, such as dyeing, highlights, bleaching and perms. These are more popular with women although men will have their hair coloured or lightened.

But, whatever product or treatment you opt for there is a danger of overuse which will weaken or dry out the individual strands of hair, which causes them to break, split or fall out.

If you do use hair products on a regular basis and notice a problem then stop using the product and consult with a professional hair stylist about repairing the damage. They will suggest ways of treating your hair which include cutting it short to remove the damaged areas and giving your hair a break from hair products or treatments. If you do want to use a hair product then consider one which is made from organic or natural materials rather than chemicals.

Tooth infection

You may be surprised to learn that experts have uncovered a link between tooth infections and hair loss, in particular, alopecia and tooth infections.


If you suffer from an infected tooth then your body’s immune system will release white blood cells to fight this infection. These white blood cells increase in number to deal with this infection, which is great, but some of these will travel into other areas of the body, such as the cells found in hair follicles.

These cells become damaged which affects the ability of the follicles to grow new hair. In fact, no new hair is produced which means that you will start to notice a thinning of your hair as the old hairs are no longer replaced.

And this thinning leads to baldness. This hair loss or infection-induced alopecia tends to occur near to the site of the infection. So if you have an infected tooth in your upper jaw then you will notice a receding hair line near your temple.

However, hair loss can be seen in the upper lip and eyebrow, and with men, in the beard.

If you have an infected tooth and notice that you have patches of missing hair then visit your dentist. Dentists are trained to notice hair loss in patients with a tooth infection and providing it is caught early enough will be able to treat both problems.

What tends to happen is once the infection is treated the hair follicles start to heal themselves which then leads to new hair growth. This doesn’t happen overnight though and full hair growth can take up to 6 months to appear.

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