Pattern hair loss is also known as androgenetic alopecia, a common hair loss for both men and women. This form of alopecia getting its better-known name, pattern hair loss, is due to how it occurs in a pattern formation. However, males and females experience different patterns.
According to research, more than 50% of all men over 50 will be affected by male pattern hair loss. The leading cause of pattern hair loss in males is genetics, and research has shown it is associated with the male sex hormones called androgens.
Male pattern hair loss is measured using The Norwood Scale; this is a seven-type scale that helps people understand the stage of male pattern hair loss; the higher the number on the scale, the more severe your hair loss is.
- Norwood Type 1 – This is where men have no minimal or no hairline recession, with no apparent loss of hair to the crown. It is not uncommon for some men to maintain a Norwood Type 1 hair pattern for their entire lives.
- Norwood Type 2 – Men show a slight recession of the hairline at the temples, with no hair loss at the crown of the scalp. At this stage, the early signs of the standard M-, V- or U-shaped hairline begin to appear. Not all men continue to lose hair as they get older when they reach this stage.
- Norwood Type 3 – This is when men have noticeable hair loss at the temples and frontal area of the scalp. At this stage, the M-, V- or U-shaped hairline commonly develops. Some men also experience hair loss at the crown or vertex at this stage.
- Norwood Type 4 – At this stage, hair loss is evident across the front of the scalp, the temples, and the crown. Men often have a small band of hair that runs across the scalp, separating the two areas affected by hair loss.
- Norwood Type 5 – Men with hair classified as Norwood Type 5 display significant, apparent hair loss around the front of the scalp, the temples, and the crown. The hair loss is more significant, with noticeable thinning of the hairband separating the forehead and the crown. This is when the horseshoe pattern of hair loss becomes more pronounced.
- Norwood Type 6 – This stage causes drastic hair loss at the front of the scalp, the temples, and the crown. The areas of hair loss are then joined together with thinning or total loss of hair on the small band that did separate the forehead and crown.
- Norwood Type 7 – Men with hair classified as Norwood Type 7 have the most severe male pattern baldness. At this point, the front of the scalp, temples, and crown no longer have much hair, with only the horseshoe pattern remaining.
It is also common for women to experience pattern hair loss. Less than half of women will experience noticeable hair loss before 65, most commonly after giving birth or menopause. Female pattern hair loss is also hereditary, and hormones are most likely responsible.
The Ludwig Scale determines the extent of female pattern hair loss.
- Ludwig Type 1 – Thinning begins at the top of the head or the crown and is mild and not very noticeable. Some women may spot the first signs of thinning by observing their part, which will widen slightly.
- Ludwig Type 2 – Noticeably more scalp is starting to show, with apparent hair loss on the top of the head or crown. The hair starts to feel or look thinner, as well as an increase in shedding. Another sign of moderate hair loss is that your hair can no longer be styled the way it used to. From a loss in volume to a broader part, your hair most likely will not look like it used to and will be harder to style.
- Ludwig Type 3 – Hair is significantly reduced on the top of the head and crown. It’s the most severe type of pattern hair loss for women. The scalp is very obvious as the left hair is so thin that there is no contrast between the hair and scalp anymore. Female hair loss is not as expected, and more women will experience hair thinning over total hair loss.