They’re Subtle — But They’re Important
Tell us if this story sounds familiar. You graduated high school at a healthy weight for your height and body type. Then, as less physical activity met many more alcoholic beverages — and your body’s metabolism began to slow — all of a sudden, one day, you’re 20 pounds heavier.
You might have noticed putting on a few pounds here or there. Maybe you saw a photo where you weren’t quite as svelte as you used to be. But when we see our reflections in the mirror, in the water, or on a Zoom call, every single day, it’s difficult to know just how much gradual change is going on. In fact, it was so gradual, you were able to ignore it altogether.
Male-pattern baldness can also have a slow and gradual onset. Subtle clues like more hair falling off in the shower or coming off in your comb, a slightly receding hairline, or thinning hair can be easily ignored — especially when the truth may be too painful.
What men ought to do — instead of hemming-and-hawing about whether or not they're actually balding — is take action. Seeing a hair specialist like a dermatologist could be an important step to take. Here are three reasons why you should consider doing so.
So you’ve taken action and started using topical or oral medications. Good for you — that’s a good start. But don’t let your guard down just yet. Try keeping track of any progress you make with non-prescription treatments. Take a picture of yourself before or around the time you started using them, then check in every month or more to see if things are improving.
Some studies have shown these over-the-counter meds to be effective in stopping hair loss and even regrowing some hair. But if you aren’t noticing as much improvement as you’d like over a period of a couple of months, it could be a sign you should talk to a hair doctor for help. A hair specialist can help understand some of the reasons why you might be losing your hair and tailor a treatment plan to fit your specific needs.
No matter how much you don’t want to believe something is true, we’re sometimes presented with evidence that cannot be refuted. Of course, with hair loss, there is some subjectivity to it — an individual’s tolerance in the face of gradual hair loss will differ from one to the other. But if you’re the type who’s looking for a way to more accurately compare your hair loss to others, there’s a chart for that.
Actually, there are a few different charts for that. There are at least six different classifications of hair loss used by academics who study things like male-pattern baldness, and other kinds of alopecias. They are all quite similar, in that they show different depictions of men’s heads with varying degrees of hair loss on different parts of the head. (Take a peek at one of them, like the Koo Classification for an idea of the different degrees of hair loss.)
Most experts — including groups like the American Association of Dermatologists (AAD)— will tell you your hair loss treatment results will probably be better if you start earlier. But even if you have progressed to a latter stage of hair loss, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Although it might be a good indicator you should see a doctor.
Androgenetic Alopecia — the fancy term for male-pattern baldness — usually develops gradually. Also, the parts of the head where this type of hair loss develops are pretty standard: at the temples on the front of your head, at the back or crown of your head, or in the middle. Of course, the speed at which hair loss occurs will vary from person to person, but it will almost never be sudden.
If you are experiencing hair loss all at once, you’re losing a lot of it, and/or the hair loss is only occurring in patches on your head, this could be a sign of a more serious condition. It could be the result of poor diet, physical trauma, or periods of intense stress — or it could even be a different type of hair loss altogether. At any rate, if you do experience this kind of hair loss, you should promptly seek medical attention for a diagnosis and potential treatment options.
The most important factors in all of this are your own personal feelings about hair loss. For many, losing hair can have a significant detrimental effect on self-esteem and life quality. For others, it’s not as big a deal.
If you do want to take control of hair loss, there are options available. No matter where on your hair recovery journey you are, consider talking to a qualified medical professional to understand more about the what, why and how to treat hair loss.