Otherwise known as “androgenic alopecia” in the medical community, male or female pattern baldness is an issue that plagues millions of people around the world. A lot of people believe this phenomenon only affects men, but it is also common in women, though much less talked about.

Male Pattern Baldness

For guys, it often begins with the receding of your hairline and the thinning of the crown on the back of your head (usually just called a bald spot). Receding hairlines can show up in different patterns like a common widow’s peak, or simply an even receding of the frontal strands, which eventually connects with the bald spot at the back of the head. It can start to affect men as young as 20 years old, and by age 35 most men have started to see some form of hair loss. By 50, about 85% of men are considered bald.

Widow's Peak
Widow’s Peak
Receding Hair Line
Receding Hair Line

Some myths about male pattern baldness include things like:

  • You’re balding because of stress
  • You’re using the wrong shampoo
  • You wear a hat too often
  • You wear too many hair products

And many more. But they’re both true! Hair loss is hereditary (inherited through your genes) and can be passed down to you from either your mother’s or your father’s side. Some medications can cause hair loss, but generally speaking there is not much you can do to avoid it. Luckily, there are plenty of options on the market to treat hair loss, some more extreme than others, but you can talk to your doctor about which options might be best for you. One of the most popular treatments is Rogaine, which can be applied directly to the scalp to stimulate hair growth. It’s an easy cream to apply and quite effective, but needs to be continuously applied or the hair will start to fall out again.

Hair transplants are becoming more and more common, but are expensive and come at the risk of some seriously uncomfortable side effects including bleeding, infection, itching, and swelling. And the results of this treatment don’t come overnight! It takes between 8 to 12 months before patients see any significant hair growth, so it’s important to ask yourself if this extreme measure is right for you.

Female Pattern Baldness

Women can also experience hair loss, though it’s not as common as we see in men. Female hair loss occurs in a different pattern than men, so instead of receding hairlines and bald spots, women usually experience thinning where they part their hair, and in patches where they have pulled their hair too tightly; they rarely experience receding hairlines like men. It seems far less common, but by age 50, an estimated 50% of women will experience balding in some form or another.

Tight Braids
Tight Braids
Bald Hair Style
Bald Hair Style

Some myths about female pattern baldness include things like:

  • You have higher testosterone
  • Your birth control pills are causing hair loss
  • You use too much or the wrong shampoo
  • You spend too much time in the sun
  • You dye your hair too often

False! Female pattern baldness is just as natural as baldness is men, and there’s often nothing you can do to prevent. It’s true that some medications cause hair loss, but speak to your doctor if you think something you’re taking has affected the health of your scalp. Some forms of female pattern baldness are reversible (like that caused by medication), but if it’s inherited genetically, there is no way to avoid it.

If you wear your hair in styles like tight braids, slick ponytails, or wear weaves, this might be causing a different type of alopecia which is reversible. If your hair follicles are constantly stressed in these tight hairstyles, simply relaxing the hair can help it grow back over time. Alopecia is common among black women due to popular braided hairstyles, but there are many alternatives that don’t stress hair, and also ways of styling hair to hide the alopecia until it heals. Sometimes women try a bold shaved head hairstyle and look incredible! So hair loss is not the end of the world.

Alopecia among both men and women is nothing to be ashamed of and happens to millions of people around the world to no fault of their own. Luckily there are tons of treatments on the market and tricks to tackle alopecia if you miss your luscious hair.

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