What It Really Means When You Can't Grow A Beard

Some people can grow a beard easier than others. In fact, many men may find it irritatingly slow or downright impossible to grow facial hair. A number of explanations can account for slow beard growth, and there are several steps that can be taken to address it.

One of the main factors that influence the length and thickness of facial hair is genetics (via Cleveland Clinic). If the men in your family have thick beards, you will probably be able to grow a thick beard as well (via Healthline). Genetics also impact at what age your beard will be its fullest. "From ages 18 to 30, most beards continue to develop in thickness and coarseness," Dr. John Anthony, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic said in a post on the institution's website. "So if you're 18 and wondering why you don't have a full beard yet, it just may not be time." Ethnicity can also play a role. For example, individuals from Mediterranean countries tend to grow thicker beards. In some cases, extremely low testosterone levels may prohibit beard growth.

If your beard appears patchy, you may have a condition called alopecia areata. This autoimmune disorder causes your body to attack hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the scalp and beard in patches. According to theĀ National Alopecia Areata Association, the condition affects as many as 6.8 million people in the United States.

Steps you can take to grow a beard

There's no cure for alopecia areata, but doctors may recommend several therapies, including minoxidil (Rogaine), creams and medications you apply to the skin, steroid injections, and cortisone tablets. Irritant contact therapy, in which a doctor applies medication to cause an allergic reaction in order to alter the immune response and stimulate hair growth, may also help. If very low testosterone levels are to blame, you will have other symptoms, such as low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and irritability. Talk to your doctor about ways to treat low testosterone.

If you do not have a medical condition, it may just be a matter of waiting until you reach the age where your beard reaches its full potential. Certain lifestyle factors like eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and avoiding smoking can also maximize your genetic potential for growing a beard. However, because of genetics, not every man can grow a beard. Some have turned to beard implants, although these surgical procedures are expensive. Talk to your doctor to carefully evaluate the risks and benefits if this is an option you're considering.