Hair Loss and Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia)

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Male Caucasian Forehead HairlineHave you noticed that your hair is getting thinner or that your hairline is receding? Teenage guys and young men are sometimes affected with male pattern baldness. In fact, it’s the most common cause of hair loss among adolescents, so if you have it, you’re not alone. Read on to learn more.

What causes this type of hair loss?

Male pattern baldness (medical name: Androgenetic Alopecia) is caused by a combination of androgens and genes. In guys, androgens are hormones that work to develop male sexual characteristics like testicle and penis growth, muscle development, and hair growth. Your genes are what determine the physical traits that are passed down to you from your parents.

Why is it called male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness gets its name because the hair falls out from the scalp in the same pattern in most guys. Take a look at the image below to see the Norwood-Hamilton scale of male pattern baldness. The images represent the way the hairline usually looks. Type “I” is the least amount of hair loss and Type “V A” is the most amount of hair loss. When girls lose their hair it’s called “female pattern hair loss” because their hair falls out in a different “pattern” than a guy’s does.

Norwood-Hamilton scale

Is male pattern baldness common?

Yes. About 16% of boys ages 15-17 have male pattern baldness. About 50% of men show signs of male pattern baldness by age 50, and about 80% have it by age 70.

When do guys usually start losing their hair?

Male pattern baldness usually begins when a guy is in his 30’s or 40’s, but can occur in teens, even at 13-15 years old.

I’m losing my hair – should I see my health care provider?

Yes. If you’re losing your hair, it’s a good idea to see your health care provider (HCP) to get checked out. Sometimes hair loss can happen as a result of medical conditions like low thyroid levels. It can also happen as a side effect of using certain medications like anabolic steroids.

I heard that you’ll only lose your hair if someone on your mom’s side of the family lost his hair. Is that true?

No, that’s a myth. Male pattern baldness can be inherited (passed down) from either side of the family, mom’s or dad’s.

What can I do about my hair loss?

If your hair is thinning or falling out, you have options to consider after seeing your HCP. You could do nothing at all, shave your head, or take medication that helps hair growth.

Doing nothing: If your hair loss isn’t due to a physical condition, there’s no medical reason for you to treat it. Losing your hair won’t make you any less healthy. Some guys feel totally comfortable with their hair loss, and that’s great!

Shaving your head: Many guys really like the way they look with a shaved head. In fact, it’s a popular style.

Some bald men you might recognize:

  • Kevin Garnett, NBA all-star
  • Vin Diesel, actor
  • Kelly Slater, pro surfer
  • Chris Daughtry, singer
  • Jason Statham, actor
  • Tony Dungy, NFL football coach
  • Moby, musician

Medication: If you feel that you want to treat your hair loss, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved two medications for use in men in the US.

  • Minoxidil: Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine®) is a medicine that works to promote hair growth. It comes in two forms: a solution or a foam. You can buy it over-the-counter at a local pharmacy or supermarket. If you use Rogaine®, make sure to read the directions carefully.
  • Finasteride: Finasteride (also known as Propecia®) is another medicine that promotes hair growth. It comes as a tablet (or pill). You have to have a prescription from your health care provider in order to get this medicine.

Remember: Always talk with your health care provider before starting a new treatment or medicine. Don’t use products or supplements that claim to re-grow hair. The ONLY medicines that are approved for use in men are Minoxidil (Rogaine®)and Finasteride (Propecia®).

If you’re concerned about male pattern baldness, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your provider: “I noticed that my hair is getting thinner. Is there anything I can do?”