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What is premature balding?

If you’re a man, going grey or going bald adds gravitas to your look. It shows your seniority and your experience and commands respect. But not if you’re 18 years old. So when is it right to go bald, and when is too early?

The Norwood Scale The consensus view is interesting and appears to centre around being attractive to women, so from an anthropological point of view perhaps significant balding before 40 is undesirable. Most people would say that losing your hair at 20 years old would class as premature balding, but some balding and hair loss at 40 would be expected.

Baldness is measured using the Norwood Scale (pictured right), with hair loss stages being referred to as, for instance, an NW3 (in the diagram that’s shown on the second line, under I, with some receding at the temples, a characteristic ‘M’ shaped hairline and possible hair loss at the crown).

That’s clearly not the whole story. Norwood is a baldness scale, not a ‘thinning hair‘ scale. So some will have thick hair, others hair thin enough that the scalp is visible. Also, hair loss doesn’t necessarily follow a linear decline to baldness. Progress can be in a stop-start fashion with hair loss seeming to happen in bursts.

So, is there a professional view about what is premature balding? Not really, no-one will write ‘premature balding’ in your notes. But here’s something interesting. Looking back at the records for people who attend The Belgravia Centre and graphing their ages… where do you think the peak age would be?

I can tell you, the graph falls away evenly either side of this peak age. The most common age of a man coming to the Belgravia Centre to try to prevent hair loss is… wait for it… 29 years old. And given that the graph falls away symmetrically either side of that, that tells you there are plenty of men in their early twenties and even late teens coming to us to seek hair loss treatment. They clearly think they have premature baldness.

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Case study, man in twenties

Balding pic courtesy Sameffron on Flickr some rights reserved

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