Male Pattern Baldness Progression

For most men, the progression of male pattern baldness starts with noticing a few fallen hairs in the bathroom sink. From there, it can lead to all levels of baldness, from complete baldness to a mildly thinned hairline. Generally, male baldness patterns are highly predictable, which is a good thing because it allows men and their doctors to easily track hair loss and make informed decisions about treatment, if the patient wants to avoid balding.

Male Baldness Patterns: The Norwood Classification

In 1975 Dr. O’tar Norwood published his Norwood Classification, which tracks the progression of male pattern baldness and divides it into seven “classes,” or steps. Most male baldness patterns will follow these seven levels of baldness:

  • Class I: This is the starting point before the progression of male pattern baldness begins, when the hairline is not balding at all.
  • Class II: The adult hairline sits a little more than 1/2 inch above the topmost forehead crease.
  • Class III: This is first stage of male baldness patterns, and it begins with a recession of the hair around the temples. At this stage, the progression of male pattern baldness may include thinning hair around the crown of the head.
  • Class IV: In this stage, levels of baldness increase around the temples and on the crown of the head, but there is still a solid band of hair separating the two.
  • Class V: The levels of baldness on the crown and temples continue to increase, and the band of hair separating the two areas begins to thin.
  • Class VI: At this stage, male baldness patterns are nearly complete, as the bridge of hair between the temples and crown of the head disappears.
  • Class VII: The progression of male pattern baldness is complete. Generally during this stage, only a wreath of hair around the sides and back of the head remains.

Other Male Baldness Patterns

In some cases, the progression of male pattern baldness may not follow the Norwood Classification exactly. For example, some men may experience only a thinning of the hair from the hairline to the crown of the head, while others might see extensive thinning around the sides and back of the head. If you’re unsure if you’re experiencing male pattern baldness, consult your doctor.

Resources

Bernstein Medical Center. (2010). Classification of hair loss in men. Retrieved, March 1, 2011, from http://www.bernsteinmedical.com/hair-loss/men/classification/

Medline Plus. (2009). Male pattern baldness. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001177.htm