Male and female pattern baldness are common types of hair loss that tend to occur in characteristic patterns. The hair loss will progress through recognizable stages that can be used to assess the extent of the problem and to predict future changes.
Male Baldness Pattern
Male pattern baldness can begin as early as your teens or twenties. It may proceed very slowly or happen relatively quickly with a lot of hair loss over just a few years. Although there are individual differences in the way that hair loss happens, it is often easy to recognition male pattern baldness by where it happens.
Male pattern baldness typically occurs in the following stages, as classified by the Norwood-Hamilton scale:
- Adolescent stage, the hairline remains low on the brow and there is no thinning
- Adult stage, the hairline may recede a little, but the change isn’t usually noticeable
- Earliest stage of hair loss, when the problem is first recognisable, usually as symmetrical hair loss at either temple that begins to form a widow‘s peak. Slight thinning on the crown or vertex may be visible.
- Intermediate hair loss, as the hairline recedes further at the temples and thinning at the top of the head becomes more apparent.
- Severe hair loss, with the strip of hair between the bald spots at the crown and temples becoming thinner and further loss occurring on the top and along the hairline.
- Horseshoe stage, when the front section of hair is lost so that the remaining hair forms a horseshoe shape around the back and sides of the head, rather than a full circle.
- Advanced stage, when only a thin line of hair remains around the sides and back of the scalp.
Female Baldness Pattern
Female pattern baldness also tends to follow a characteristic progression, although it looks very different to male pattern baldness. The hair loss tends to start later in women and is especially apparent after the menopause.
Female pattern baldness tends to occur in the following stages, as described by the Ludwig and Savin scales:
- Early stage, with some hair loss happening on either side of the hair parting so that it appears wider
- Intermediate stage, as the hair part widens further, creating a more noticeable bald section that is thinning on either side
- Severe hair loss, with a large bald patch at the top of the head
However, female pattern baldness can also cause more general thinning across the scalp, even if there isn’t an obvious bald patch around the hair part. Generally, the hairline at the front of the head will remain unchanged. It will not recede backwards, but at very advanced stages of hair loss it can be affected from the other direction as the bald patch at the top of the head grows.
If you are concerned about male or female pattern baldness then you can arrange a consultation with an experienced doctor at the BMC to have your hair loss assessed and to learn about the treatment options.