Early Signs of Balding: How to Spot and Stop Them in 2023
- How much hair loss is normal?
- Early signs of balding
- Signs of hair loss in men
- Signs of female hair loss
- Visit a doctor
The early signs of balding can appear at any stage of adulthood.
You may notice that you start to shed more hair than usual while still in your late teens or in the first half of your 20s. Or you could maintain a full, healthy head of hair well into middle age — and beyond.
However, the risk of going bald increases as you grow older. The most common form of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness), affects around 50% of men aged 50+ and about 40% of women aged 70+.
The sooner you spot the signs of baldness, the sooner you can speak to a specialist about potential solutions.
How much hair loss is normal?
Losing 50-100 strands every day is considered normal hair loss.
Because our scalp has over 100,000 hair follicles, we can stand to lose this amount daily without noticeable hair loss.
Women tend to shed more hair daily than men, and there are exceptions to how much people can lose daily. But altogether, this is the normal amount.
Factors such as how you style your hair, including using straighteners or curling tongs, and if you use harsh chemicals in hair treatments, can also influence the amount of hair falling out.
What are the early signs of balding?
Although it is perfectly normal to lose hair every day, there is a threshold to be wary of. Sometimes, significant changes in the density and texture of your hair can signify you’re developing a hair loss condition.
Here are the 5 earliest signs of balding in young men to be mindful of:
1. Thinning Hair
Thinning is a gradual change in the density and texture of your hair. It often starts at the temple or crown of your head, where gradually, less and less hair grows back.
This is one of the most common early signs of balding male scalp.
The condition can occur as early as your teenage years, or your twenties. The result can be hair looking sparse, faint, and growing shorter than normal.
Lifestyle factors can heavily influence the presence and development of thinning hair. These include excessive stress, over-treating your hair with harsh chemicals, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Genetics can also play a pivotal role in this condition, especially if you have family members whose hair has thinned.
Thinning hair can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, including an autoimmune disease or hormonal disorder. Consult your doctor to find the root cause of your hair falling out.
2. Receding Hairline
A receding hairline can develop as early as the end of puberty, and by the time someone reaches their late 20s and early 30s, they may already have suffered significant hair loss in prominent places.
For men, a receding hairline often starts just above the temples, where their natural hairline gradually retreats over time.
Hair begins to fall out, forming a V-shape just above the forehead. This is often nicknamed a” widow’s peak,” as the sides of the head are usually left unaffected.
Though more rarely, it can also affect women, where hair thins and gradually retreats past the hairline.
Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause can often affect the hairline and may only be a temporary symptom.
As with any sudden change in your health, consult your doctor to get an official diagnosis. Sometimes a scalp biopsy is taken to examine what is affecting it in this manner.
3. Hair Falls Out in Clumps
As we’ve already said, losing a certain amount of hair daily is perfectly normal. But if hair begins to fall out in clumps, or you find a great deal of hair on your pillow in the morning, this can be a significant cause for concern.
If you’ve developed noticeable bald spots or portions of your hair that are easy to pull out when brushing, it’s time to see your doctor.
They will run a series of tests to diagnose the root cause, including checking for underlying medical conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or hormonal changes.
They may also examine your scalp for signs of trauma and review your haircare practices. In the meantime, avoid using harsh chemicals and styling techniques
4. Bald Spots
Sudden bald spots on your scalp may indicate that you’re experiencing alopecia areata.
This is an autoimmune condition that sees your immune system mistakenly attack hair follicles, reducing their growth phase and causing them to fall early.
Alopecia areata can affect your scalp hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, facial hair, and pubic hair across your entire body.
A telltale sign of alopecia will be that these spots form perfect circles on your head. They will often feel itchy or tingly, and hair regrows incredibly slowly.
There are several subtypes, each with their own unique treatment options. For this reason, you must visit your doctor for an official diagnosis. Thankfully, some of them are only temporary.
5. You’re Losing Hair All Over Your Body
Losing all of your hair quickly, across your entire body, can be devastating and scary to experience.
Several conditions may cause this, including a subtype of alopecia known as alopecia universalis.
Other causes include autoimmune disorders, iron deficiencies, hormonal disorders involving your thyroid or adrenal glands, diabetes, stress, genetics and for women, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Ultimately, you must consult your doctor to find the root cause of this sudden and total hair loss.
First signs of balding in men
The Norwood scale illustrates hair loss occurring on multiple parts of the scalp, across 7 main stages of the balding process. The most noticeable signs of male pattern baldness can show in the following areas:
1. Hairline recession
The majority of men develop a receding hairline with age, this recession may not lead to baldness for everyone. However, for most, it is one of the earliest signs of male pattern baldness.
As hereditary hair loss progresses, the hairline often takes up a distinct M or V shape which may become more noticeable with age.
The easiest way to identify hair thinning and a receding hairline is to closely examine your scalp in the bathroom mirror or compare photographs.
You may start losing hair as soon as you enter puberty, while others will show no signs of thinning until their 50s or 60s.
2. Early signs of balding crown
The earliest signs of balding are thinning hair at the temples and on the vertex (or crown), showing as a bald spot on the crown.
3. Thinning on top of the scalp
Hair loss on top of the scalp is usually a slow process, and it’s unlikely to just happen overnight. You won’t wake up one morning to find most of your hair gone.
Instead, incremental hair thinning may occur over a number of years until your baldness becomes noticeable.
Signs of balding in women
Female pattern baldness can start to develop between the ages of 12 and 40, though it may begin much later in some cases.
Medical professionals use the Ludwig classification system to identify the following signs of balding in women:
- Widening hair part
One of the most common signs of female balding is a widening part, typically along the centre of the scalp.
- Thinning on top of the scalp
Hair loss occurs on the top of the scalp but not at the sides. Balding commonly develops bald spots across the entire head in women, as the hairline doesn’t recede in an M-shaped pattern as it does in men.
At what age do people typically start to lose their hair?
We often think that hair loss only happens when we’re older, but hereditary hair loss can start as early as our teenage years.
After puberty, we may develop early signs of male balding, which gradually progresses into more noticeable balding around our scalp.
Another common misconception is that just because someone has gone through most of their life without experiencing any thinning does not make them immune to potential balding!
In fact, some people may only begin to experience these symptoms well past mid-life.
What are the possible causes of hair loss?
Several conditions and issues can trigger hair loss. Some may be hereditary, or due to medication, injury, or an underlying medical condition.
The potential causes include:
Female or male pattern baldness
Androgen alopecia is a hereditary condition and it is the most common cause of hair loss in men and women.
In men, it typically appears as thinning at the hairline or crown, or both. In women, androgenetic alopecia presents as diffuse thinning affecting the entire scalp.
For this reason, while hair transplantation can provide a lasting solution for men, women usually achieve lacklustre results from female hair transplants.
Largely due to the lack of stable, DHT-resistant hairs that are present in men.
Stressful life events (such as developing an illness, giving birth, or extreme dieting) can cause telogen effluvium.
This is the condition where a large number of hairs enter the resting (telogen) phase, causing sudden and excessive hair shedding. However, it should be reversible once the stressful period ends.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that makes your immune system attack your hair follicles.
Men and women with this condition experience hair loss in small patches of the scalp without showing other symptoms.
It may also affect the eyebrows, beard, and body hair. The isolated patches can eventually connect and create more severe baldness.
Cicatricial alopecia, commonly referred to as scarring alopecia, refers to a collection of hair loss disorders.
There are many different forms of scarring alopecia, and most of them lead to potentially permanent and irreversible loss of hair and scarring.
Many cases begin as small patches of hair loss that gradually expand over time.
Thyroid issues occur when the thyroid gland either over or underproduces certain hormones, leading to a hormonal imbalance in the body.
The thyroid hormone is essential in the maintenance of healthy hair follicles, so certain thyroid diseases may lead to hair loss.
A disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for example, can lead to brittle or thinning hair on your scalp and body.
The division of hair follicle cells is one of the fastest cell divisions that happen within our body. So it’s no surprise that nutritional deficiencies can cause you to lose hair.
You may develop a nutritional deficiency if you fail to get a healthy amount of vitamins, iron, or protein. This can cause shedding over time.
If you develop this fungal infection of the scalp, you’ll notice isolated scaly spots that may have pustules. Over time, the size of these patches may increase, which can lead to scarring and permanent hair loss
What treatments are available for hair loss?
You may be able to naturally regrow lost hair after addressing the root of the problem, but various treatments can help restore growth if that’s not possible:
Topical treatments containing a moderate amount of topical retinoid (derived from vitamin A) may be applied to the scalp to stimulate growth.
Retinoids may prevent you from losing hair by unclogging pores and increasing the production of new skin cells.
Hair transplant is a surgical procedure when doctors remove hair grafts from a donor area(usually the back or sides of the head) and transplant them into the areas affected by androgenic alopecia.
These donor hairs are genetically resistant to DHT, which is the male sex hormone that causes hair follicles to shrink and become unable to produce new hairs over time.
As a result, the implanted hairs will never fall out, creating a permanent solution for hair loss.
There are currently two main methods used for hair transplants: the FUT and FUE techniques.
Minoxidil (sold as Rogaine) is a medication available over the counter. This is applied directly to the scalp to prevent hair loss and encourage growth for certain types of hair loss. But it must be used frequently to maintain results.
Furthermore, minoxidil comes with a few common side effects such as irritation, and unwanted facial hair growth.
More rare side effects include weight gain, faintness, hand and foot swelling, chest pain, and in extreme cases further hair loss.
Finasteride, also known as Propecia, is one of the most widely used prescription medications against hair loss in the world.
The drug works by decreasing the levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the male sex hormone responsible for male pattern baldness.
In most cases, this can result in hair regrowth and a decreased rate of hair loss.
However, using Finasteride may cause some serious side effects such as erectile dysfunction, decreased sex drive, and testicle pain among others.
Low-level laser therapy
Laser treatments focus on increasing density. Weak cells absorb photons from the laser, which can promote thicker, stronger hair.
Low-level laser therapy is a relatively new hair loss treatment and its effectiveness is still disputed.
Although the initial results of the procedure seem promising, the main drawbacks of Low-level laser therapy are the time it takes to see results and the price associated with each treatment.
Spironolactone (available as Aldactone) binds to receptors for androgen hormones to regulate testosterone and other androgens.
This can fight hormone imbalances, and reduce the risk of associated hair loss.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
PRP therapy involves taking a blood sample, processing it into a platelet-rich plasma, then injecting it into the areas affected by male pattern baldness.
PRP treatments increase blood flow to the scalp, which may lead to new hair growth.
When should you speak to a doctor about the signs of balding?
Noticing the signs of going bald at a young age, or even at the later stages of life can be difficult to process.
To answer the question why is my hair falling out, we need to examine it from different aspects. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms alongside hair loss:
- Itchy scalp with excessive scaling in the balding areas
- Swelling at or near balding areas
- Sudden hair loss on any part of the body
- A stinging or burning sensation on or near balding areas
- Pus discharge on or near balding areas
- A current or recent high fever (above 38°C or 101°F)
- Complications from surgery
- Excessive, unusual hair growth on any part of your body
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
Your doctor should be able to identify the type of hair loss you’re experiencing as well as any of these accompanying symptoms.
They will be able to discuss potential treatments to address balding, including a hair transplant.
Who can you speak to about a hair transplant?
HairPalace’s expert team uses the latest FUE2 hair transplant technique. We can restore hair across the scalp safely and effectively, to achieve natural results.
Here are the first signs of baldness: hair starts to fall out; hairline recedes; scalp becomes more visible through hair; bald spots appear at random; hair takes more time to grow than usual; flaking or itchiness on the scalp.
You have a 25% chance of losing some of your hair before you turn 30 years old. Around half of all men experience visible hair loss by age 50, and two-thirds are bald or have pattern baldness by 60. Hair loss becomes more common the older you get, though it can be difficult to accept at any age.
When your hairline recedes onto your scalp and creates an M-shaped hairline or widow’s peak, you may be going bald. An M-shape makes the hairline look more defined and eliminates the youthful hairline’s curves. A widow’s peak features a V-shaped mass of hair in a lower position than the rest of the hairline.
Baldness usually starts in the hairline, and the hairline will take on a noticeable M-shape. This begins close to the temples and crown in most cases. The hair typically begins thinning rather than falling out entirely.
Baby hairs themselves are not a sign of balding. They are fine, short hairs that naturally occur along the hairline. However, if previously long hairs turn into short, fine “baby-like” hairs, it could indicate hair miniaturization, which can be a sign of balding.
Yes, hair thinning can be a sign of balding, especially when associated with androgenic alopecia or other hair loss conditions.
Dry hair itself is not a sign of balding. However, it’s essential to keep your hair nourished to maintain healthy hair growth.
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- Walter, Kristin. "Common Causes of Hair Loss." JAMA 328.7 (2022): 686-686.
- Koo, Sang-Hwan, et al. "A new classification of male pattern baldness and a clinical study of the anterior hairline." Aesthetic plastic surgery 24.1 (2000): 46-51.