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  • Sons Explains: How to tell if hair loss is genetic or stress

Sons Explains: How to tell if hair loss is genetic or stress

25 November 2022
3-minute read

Sons Explains: How to tell if hair loss is genetic or stress 

There are various factors that can lead to hair loss in men. One of the most prevalent causes of hair loss is genetics, which leads to a condition known as male pattern hair loss. But environmental factors - including high levels of stress - can also cause your hair to fall out. Below, we explain how to tell if your hair loss is genetic or stress-related and what you can do about it. 

Identifying genetic hair loss 

When hair loss is caused by your genes, it follows a predictable pattern and is commonly referred to as male pattern hair loss (or baldness). The medical term for this type of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. Contrary to popular belief, male pattern hair loss can occur at any time, from your teens to your later life; it really just depends on your personal circumstances. If you’re suffering from genetic hair loss, the following signs will help you identify the condition: 

  • You have lost hair predominantly around the temples or crown. 
  • You might experience a receding hairline that develops in an “M” shape. 
  • Your hair is gradually thinning on the top of your head. 
  • You might notice that your hair products no longer work as effectively as they once did.

While male pattern hair loss affects every man slightly differently, the above signs are fairly uniform and apply in many instances of genetic hair loss. You can use the Norwood Scale to help you identify the progression of male pattern hair loss and discern whether you have mild, moderate, or advanced hair loss. This will help you ascertain the most appropriate treatment for your condition. 

Identifying stress-related hair loss 

While it’s not as common as genetic hair loss, stress can cause your hair to fall out in certain instances. Actually, three types of hair loss are associated with stress: 

Telogen effluvium 

When you’re particularly stressed, your hair follicles enter a prolonged resting phase. After several months, the affected follicles might fall out without notice when you’re combing or brushing your hair. 


Some people suffer from a condition called Trichotillomania, which is an irresistible urge to pull your hair out. While this is often driven by stress, it can also be caused by boredom, isolation, and loneliness. 

Alopecia areata 

Cause for alopecia areata is not fully known but is thought to have an auto-immune component. It is known that stress can worsen flares of alopecia areata which causes 2-3cm patches of total hair loss, which can happen anywhere on the scalp or the rest of the body. This condition causes your immune system to attack the hair follicles on your head, which ultimately leads to your hair falling out. 

An important thing to realise about stress-related hair loss is that it isn’t always permanent. Adapting your lifestyle and reducing your stress levels can lead to a reversal of your hair loss symptoms. If you are suffering from stress-related hair loss, it’s really important to seek advice from your GP before undertaking treatment. You will have the most success by treating the underlying causes of your stress before undertaking the treatment recommended by a doctor. 

Treating male pattern hair loss 

Approximately 6.5 million men in the UK experience male pattern hair loss. Genetic hair loss is caused by sensitivity to a hormone known as DHT, which binds to your hair follicles and causes them to die out.

Fortunately, you can treat male pattern hair loss with two medications - Finasteride and Minoxidil. They are best used together, but some men use them in isolation. Browse through our treatment plans today to find the ideal solution for your hair loss, or start a free online consultation to discern the most appropriate treatment for your level of hair loss. 

All of our blog articles are reviewed by our Medical Director before publication.