Losing hair? Is it at the point of no return or can you still save your crowning glory? Keep reading to learn all about male pattern baldness stages and treatment options.
In this article:
- What Is Male Pattern Baldness?
- What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
- What Are the First Signs of Balding?
- How Do You Know If You Have Male Pattern Baldness?
- What Are the Male Pattern Baldness Stages?
- How Long Does It Take To Go Bald?
- Can You Reverse Balding?
Everything You Need to Know About Male Pattern Baldness Stages
What Is Male Pattern Baldness?
The technical term for male pattern baldness is androgenetic alopecia. It’s a common hair loss condition that affects most men but at different rates.
Unlike alopecia, a condition where you lose patches of hair in random spots on your body, androgenetic alopecia is a hair loss condition specific to the scalp. It also follows a predictable pattern of hair loss.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness is a result of hair follicle shrinkage and shorter hair growth cycles. This naturally happens over time and it’s a natural part of the aging process.
But why does this begin to happen sooner for some men? There are two main factors that contribute to the onset of male pattern baldness:
Genetics or family history plays a significant role in the development of male pattern baldness. If your parents or relatives exhibit male pattern baldness, you’re more likely to experience it sooner.
Apart from genetics, testosterone also contributes to male pattern baldness. Testosterone is the main male sex hormone.
Testosterone is primarily responsible for developing male reproductive tissues and secondary sexual characteristics. It also creates dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen hormone.
DHT is essential for the hair growth on other areas of the body but is detrimental for scalp hair. Some men have hair follicles that are more sensitive to DHT which may lead to earlier male pattern baldness.
What Are the First Signs of Balding?
Balding usually happens gradually, and at first, you may not even notice it. The first signs of baldness usually begin at the temples.
The hairline gradually recedes. At the same time, you may notice hair thinning at the back of your head.
How Do You Know If You Have Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness can be diagnosed by a physician, dermatologist, or a hair loss specialist. Diagnosis usually involves a medical history and physical exam.
Keep in mind that the symptoms of male pattern baldness don’t usually have any effects on your overall health. So, you can actually keep track of your own hair loss.
It’s important to remember that it’s normal to lose hair every day, it doesn’t mean you have male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness doesn’t happen overnight.
It happens over time and it follows a predictable pattern. In the 1950s, James Hamilton documented this pattern and came up with a hair loss scale.
In the 1970s, this scale was updated by O’Tar Norwood. To this day, the Hamilton-Norwood scale is still a popular classification system that helps determine the extent of hair loss.
What Are the Male Pattern Baldness Stages?
The Hamilton-Norwood scale outlines the different phases of male pattern baldness in seven unique stages:
- Stage 1 – There is noticeable hair loss at this point, but there’s a slight thinning in the hair on the temple and the hairline may be slightly receding as well.
- Stage 2 – Thinning in the temple is more noticeable. The common M-shaped hairline may start to become apparent.
- Stage 3 – Balding is apparent at this stage. There may be little or no hair in the temple area, thinner hair on top of the head, and a bald spot may start to become apparent.
- Stage 4 – At this point, there may be single or multiple bald spots on top at the back of the head. What’s left of the hair on the crown is thinned out.
- Stage 5 – Horseshoe hairline begins to appear. The area of hair connecting bald spots is noticeably thinner.
- Stage 6 – A large portion of the hair is already lost and there very little hair left to cover most of the scalp. At this point, the hairline is clearly at the top of the head.
- Stage 7 – The top of the head is completely hairless. The horseshoe hairline begins towards the back of the head.
These stages can help you recognize the warning signs of balding before it’s too late to prevent further hair loss. The sooner you intervene, the better the results.
How Long Does It Take To Go Bald?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 50 million men in the United States suffer from male pattern baldness. More than 50% of men over 50 years old experience noticeable hair loss.
Male pattern baldness can begin during the teenage years. Age is a clear risk factor for male pattern baldness—the older you get, the more likely you are to experience it.
Once the process begins, however, the rate of hair loss can vary. For some men, it can take 15-20 years to reach the end of the Hamilton-Norwood scale.
For others, it can be as quick as five years.
Can You Reverse Balding?
Technically, you can’t reverse balding. But if you act early enough, you can prevent further balding by strengthening your remaining hair follicles.
Ideally, it’s best to introduce preventive measures and treatment programs during the first three stages. There are two FDA-approved treatments that help protect and strengthen hair:
Minoxidil is a lotion you apply topically on your scalp. It helps improve blood flow in the scalp which helps deliver nutrients to hair follicles.
Healthy and stronger hair follicles promote hair growth and improve hair density.
Finasteride, on the other hand, is a tablet taken orally. It’s known as an anti-androgen which helps battle the effects of DHT. It’s been found to stop hair loss and even promotes further hair growth!
The onset of male pattern baldness can be stressful and embarrassing, but you aren’t helpless against it. There are proven ways to help keep your crowning glory where it belongs!
Where do you think you are on the Hamilton-Norwood scale? Do you think it’s time to start hair loss treatment? Let us know in the comments section below.