Hair experts around the world say that the best way to prevent or reverse balding is to catch it early and act immediately.
Men and women need to know exactly what early signs of balding to look for so that they can tackle the problem swiftly and minimize losses.
In this article, we’re identifying the most common first signs of hair loss, so that you can be better prepared to take action if you see them yourself.
Most Common Signs of Hair Loss
You don’t need a doctorate to notice hair loss, but there are some common patterns to look for.
To assess balding in men, medical professionals use the Hamilton-Norwood classification scale, which was designed in the mid-20th century to measure the stages of male pattern baldness. The scale climbs from 1 to 7 and reflects the most common patterns of hair loss in men.
A receding hairline is usually the first thing that men notice since they look in the mirror every day. Hair can begin to thin and move back toward the top of the head, called the vertex.
While hairlines can sometimes recede evenly across the forehead, men more commonly see an M-shape form as the hair on either side of the head inches back.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- Thinning usually happens before receding.
- Beware of more hair coming loose in the shower.
- Look for hairs left behind in hats, on couches and pillows. We lose 100 hairs a day on average, but excessive shedding is grounds for concern.
- Take note of itching or agitation in these areas.
- Watch for hair loss around the temples as well as the forehead.
Men should know the difference between a mature hairline and a receding one, so they do not run the risk of misdiagnosis.
If there is only about one finger-width of space between the top wrinkle on your forehead and your hair, this is just a healthy mature hairline and no cause for alarm.
A mature hairline is the norm for over 95 percent of men and is simply an indicator that the process of puberty is complete. Even with a mature hairline, most men’s hairstyles are possible, and it is not worth taking medication like Minoxidil or Finasteride to try to reverse this minimal loss.
The next most common sign of balding is on the top of the head, usually slightly behind the vertex. This is the dreaded “bald spot” that can be easy to miss at first. At first you’ll need to go by feel to determine if a bald spot is forming, and you can tell if there is more space between hairs than before.
Don’t hesitate to snap a few photos from the top to get a full view.
Reviewing the Norwood scale yourself is a good way to determine the severity of your own hair loss, but keep in mind that no two cases are exactly alike.
For women, we suggest you reference the Ludwig scale classification method.
Though not as expansive as the Norwood, it reflects the fact that women tend to experience a more uniform type of hair loss, signaled by the widening of the part in their hair.
Thinning is most common along this area, and can expand outward if not addressed quickly. Even slight thinning of the hair is considered pretty normal for women over the age of 50.
Less Common Signs of Hair Loss
The androgenic alopecia patterns discussed above will be your best guidance in evaluating the state of your own hair loss, but there are other signals to be conscious of as well.
Small circular patches of quick hair loss can result from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that has no established cure.
Thyroid conditions can also lead to hair loss, and even slight disruptions to the endocrine system must be considered as a cause.
Fungal infections of the scalp, known as Tinea Capitis have been known to cause scarring and hair loss, although certain medications can fight it.
These do not represent the majority of hair loss cases by any means, but it’s important to be aware of all possible causes.
What can I do about hair loss?
Simply looking in the mirror every day and trying to guess whether or not you’re balding is not a recipe for effective diagnosis, and will likely put you at risk for missing key signs.
If you believe you’re at risk for pattern baldness due to genetic or environmental reasons, you may want to photograph yourself every month to keep a close eye on things.
This means taking photos from every angle and comparing them diligently. Pics from the front, back, top, and on either side are necessary for a complete assessment. These can be helpful for your own purposes and to reference during a consultation with medical professionals in the future. Just be sure to never miss a photo session, because a lot can happen in a month.
Ask family members and loved ones if they can give you an honest assessment of your hair, even if you may not like the answer. It’s for the best to know the truth ASAP!
When should I seek a consult?
Should you rush to the doctor as soon as you see the very first signs of hair loss?
There’s nothing stopping you, but first consider the number of things you can do on your own to potentially slow or even stop the pattern baldness taking place.
First off, try some simple lifestyle changes that we often recommend to our clients, regardless of their hair loss situation.
Improving diet is key, specifically boosting the intake of protein and healthy fats while reducing processed carbohydrates and simple sugars.
Cutting down on smoking and drinking alcohol has also been shown to slow hair loss.
Exercise is great no matter what your situation, but can also increase blood flow to the scalp and stimulate follicles.
If you clean up your habits and commit to healthy living but still notice ongoing thinning and receding, certain medicines may be your next option, and are relatively cheap.
The three most widely used hair loss products on the market are Minoxidil, Finasteride, and fortifying shampoos.
Minoxidil is better known as Rogaine and contains compounds aimed at boosting blood flow in the scalp in order to increase the speed and quality of follicle growth.
Finasteride, while not available over the counter, is an effective oral medication meant to block DHT, which is cited as the main perpetrator of male pattern baldness.
Finally, hair loss shampoos containing biotin, caffeine, and saw palmetto may yield results, but there are few clinical trials proving the effectiveness of these all natural options.
For millions of people every year, hair loss presents a new and difficult challenge.
By knowing what signs to look for, how to respond, and when to see a doctor, you can effectively combat some of the more common causes of balding.
While some factors may still lie outside your control, you have more power over hair loss than you may think!
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