“Catching the early signs of male pattern baldness is a massive help because the earlier you act, the better chances you have of saving your hair.”

In the UK there are around 7 million men who suffer from male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia. The chances of experiencing hair loss increase as you get older, but the majority of men start noticing hair loss in their mid- to late-twenties.

According to surveys, up to 9 out of 10 guys admit that they worry about male pattern baldness. So if you are starting to fret about your own hairline, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

But what should you be looking out for to spot male pattern baldness? What are the early signs of balding and what can you do about it? Let’s dig in.  

Genetics

Ok so this isn’t really a sign, but we decided to put genetics first in this list because of the ample body of evidence suggesting that it plays an important role in hair loss. But before you go ahead and point the finger at mum or dad, you should be aware that the relationship is more complicated than you might think. To begin with, there’s no single ‘baldness gene’. The hereditary aspect of hair loss not only depends on multiple genes but also environmental factors such as your lifestyle. It’s also something that you can inherit from both your mum’s or your dad’s side of the family, contrary to popular belief.

Therefore it might be a good idea to have a look at a family photo and see how many of the men on both sides of your family are going bald. If the answer is ‘a lot’, then there’s a good chance you’ll experience it at some point too. Although you cannot set a date in the diary for when it will start, that the older you get, the higher the chances of hair loss.

Receding hairline

This is perhaps one of the easiest things to spot when you start to lose your hair. If you can see in the mirror that your hairline is starting to recede, you are probably in the early stages of male pattern baldness. There tends to be a distinctive pattern (hence the name), with the hair loss advancing faster closer to your temples, resulting in the distinctive U-shaped hairline associated with androgenetic alopecia. Take a closer look in the mirror, and you might notice that the first row of hairs on your hairline appear to be smaller, thinner and more spaced out. This is what happens to hair follicles after prolonged exposure to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the root cause of male pattern baldness. You can read more about DHT’s role in hair loss and its relationship with genetics here.

Thinning on the crown

The crown of the head is the other hotspot for signs of male pattern baldness. Bald spots develop slowly, starting as a spot on your crown where the hair is just a bit thinner and advancing until you begin to resemble Friar Tuck. This is a very common sign of male pattern baldness but people often miss it because, as we’ve discovered through a process of rigorous experimentation, it’s a bit tricky to see the top of your own head. Oftentimes, men whose hair loss begins on their crown will first learn about it when someone makes a comment. Instead of waiting around for that to happen, consider asking a friend or loved one to examine your crown for signs of thinning.

Increased shower or pillow hair

We all lose hair on a daily basis. Around 50-100 hairs are lost daily as part of a normal cycle of hair growth, which you can read more about here. This is known as hair shedding. However, if you start to notice an increase in the amount of hairs in the shower plug or perhaps left on your pillow it may be time to start investigating further. Excessive hair shedding may be down to stress, diet or lack of sleep. Hair shedding does not mean you are losing your hair, as the hair lost via shedding will grow back. If this is happening, try to address the root causes of stress and be patient. If the shedding continues for over three months, then it could be an early sign of male pattern baldness.

Scalp problems – an additional risk factor

Having an itchy or flaky scalp mind be a contributing factor in hair loss. Don’t worry – these problems do not in and of themselves mean you are losing your hair. But they can work in conjunction with hair loss. There is a skin oil known as sebum which is produced in the scalp. Sebum is very normal, however over-production or build up of it can lead to clogging of the hair follicles, which can lead to an itchy scalp and an increased rate of hair loss. If you experience dandruff, be sure to use an appropriate shampoo product to address it.

What can I do about my hair loss?

First of all, don’t panic. There are medically proven options out there for you to overcome hair loss – namely Minoxidil and Finasteride. Catching the early signs of male pattern baldness is a massive help because the earlier you act, the better chances you have of saving your hair. You need to remember that preventing hair from falling out in the first place is much easier than replacing it once it is gone. So our advice is to take action now, before it’s too late. You’ll thank yourself later.