The Norwood Scale is the most prominent classification system to quantify male pattern baldness. Men usually experience hair loss in various different patterns throughout the course of a number of years. The Norwood Scale makes it easier to recognize the specific stage of balding you are in.
The Norwood Scale is most commonly used in hair clinics, especially hair transplant clinics to facilitate the process of accurately diagnosing male pattern baldness. There are various scales available however, this is the most popular one used for identifying the stages of male hair loss. The purpose of the scale is to provide a specific and accurate reference guide for the severity of the baldness, making it easier to create an effective treatment plan for the sufferer.
There are several stages of hair loss however, what are the most significant stages? Here are the 7 stages of hair loss, specifically male pattern hair loss.
What are the 7 Stages of Male Pattern Hair Loss
The Norwood Scale specifically has 7 stages and each stage can help experts identify the severity of the hair loss.
- No major hair loss at this stage, no receding hairline
- Hairline begins to recede, slight loss of hair density close to the temples
- This is where the hair line begins to recede and the baldness becomes more visible. You can identify this by noticing an V, U or M shape around the hairline.
- This is still considered as stage 3, Vertex. This is when there is major hair loss at the top of the head.
- The two main sections of hair loss begin to grow and become more prominent.
- The balding sections near the temples begin to connect with the balding sections at the top of the head.
- Most of the hair at the top is gone, and the only hair that is left is at the sides of the hair.
Class A- there is a slight variant on the most popular Norwood Scale called class A. This is where the hair loss progresses but the hairline recedes in a different way. There is no significant hair loss from the top of the head. The loss occurs from the front of the head to the back of the head.
How is Male Pattern Hair Loss Diagnosed and Does the Norwood Scale Really Help with this?
Male pattern hair loss is normally diagnosed by taking a closer look at the medical records of the patient, then also by physically examining him to check the extent of the hair loss. Usually, if you are under the age of 40 and you are experiencing hair loss that does not seem normal, the doctor might want to check if there are some other underlying causes before diagnosing male pattern hair loss.
A hair expert such as a trichologist or a dermatologist can give you a thorough scalp examination to accurately identify whether or not you indeed have male pattern baldness. Checking the hair follicles is key because it allows them to figure out exactly what is going on.
The Norwood Scale makes the whole process of diagnosing male pattern baldness much easier because the clinician can actually use a point of reference to check how far advanced the hair loss actually is. Instead of just diagnosing based on guesswork, they can identify if the patient appears to have a similar balding to the pictures on the Norwood Scale.
You could probably diagnose male pattern baldness without the Norwood Scale or any other scale for that matter however, the scale does facilitate the whole process making it simpler and hassle free.
How is Male Pattern Baldness Treated?
There are various ways of treating male pattern baldness, or hair loss in general. Here are some of the ways male pattern baldness is treated.
Over the Counter Medication
There are various over the counter medications that are often used for male pattern baldness such as Rogaine. These treatments inhibit further hair loss and in some cases they encourage new growth.
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Hair implants require investment and this treatment is a long-term strategy to implant healthy hair follicles into the affected scalp area. It can be painful and requires some recovery time but eventually the hair should grow back.
PRP- Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy or PRP is a procedure that requires the hair loss sufferer to have their blood drawn. The blood is then processed and the platelet rich plasma layer of the blood is injected into the affected area. This is supposed to stimulate the hair follicle and boost blood circulation to eventually encourage healthy hair growth.
There are a number of products on the market that produce laser light such as laser brushes, combs, and scalp massage devices. These are supposed to boost circulation and encourage healthy hair growth, but these treatments have not been scientifically proven.
There are prescription treatments that can be utilized to treat male pattern baldness. These would usually only be prescribed after the clinician has managed to accurately diagnose male pattern hair loss. The diagnosis is obviously made easier by using the Norwood Scale. Identifying early-stage male pattern baldness might not result in strong prescription drugs being prescribed however, sometimes identifying pattern baldness early could possibly delay or inhibit the onset of the condition.
What are the Causes of Male Pattern Baldness?
When it comes to male pattern baldness, what are the factors that actually cause it in the first place? There are a number of factors that should be considered. Such as, genetics, hormonal and external such as pollution or harmful chemicals found in some commercial hair products.
To look at it from a genetics standpoint, you inherit genes from your parents and these can determine whether or not you would be sensitive to certain hormones such as androgens, for example, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When there are more androgens in the hair follicles it affects how long the hair actually survives in the hair follicle.
The hair should last for about six years or more, however, when androgens in the follicles increase, this reduces the amount of time the hair survives within the follicle. When the hair keeps falling out, the hair follicles become weak and eventually they decrease in size making it nearly impossible for the follicles to produce healthy hair.
Do You Really Need the Norwood Scale to Diagnose Male Pattern Baldness?
The Norwood Scale is essentially a collection of images that showcases the 7 stages of male pattern baldness. It was introduced in the 1950’s by James Hamilton and eventually, it was updated in the 1970’s by O’Tar Norwood. The scale is designed to provide an accurate depiction of the stages of male pattern baldness.
There are several scales available that also identify male pattern baldness stages however, the Norwood Scale is the most trusted and the most popular scale out there, most clinicians use it to facilitate the process of diagnosing male pattern hair loss. The question is, do you really need the Norwood Scale or any other scale to identify whether or not a person has male pattern baldness?
If the baldness is extremely obvious, then the scale might not be needed however, it does help to identify the severity of the baldness, making it easier to create a treatment plan for the patient. Also, it can also help the clinician to rule out male pattern baldness by examining the patient based on the image her/she sees.
Also, for those needing a little extra help with trying to avoid male pattern baldness or trying to cure it naturally, there are some specific foods that you can consume to promote healthier hair growth. Mostly, they have been scientifically proven but there is no harm in consuming fresh, healthy foods to help boost your health and to add extra nutrients to your diet.
Iron-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, and lean red meat contain plenty of iron. Iron supplements could also boost your iron intake. Eggs are also excellent for boosting iron.
Omega-3 is essential for healthy hair and skin. Aim to consume oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Also, flaxseeds contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts, seeds, and eggs are also good choices. You can also consume supplements to up your intake of Omega-3s. Below are the best-selling Omega-3 supplements on Amazon.
Hair is essentially protein therefore, consuming lots of protein-rich food is essential if you want to try and curb male pattern baldness.
Drink plenty of water to hydrate the scalp, dehydration affects every working mechanism in your body therefore, if you want to try and heal your male pattern baldness, you should be drinking at least 8 large glasses of water per day.
The Norwood Scale is a useful tool for diagnosing male pattern baldness, most clinicians and hair experts would certainly not dismiss it as a well-researched scale to help with the accurate diagnosis of male pattern baldness.
Diana used to work as an Assistant Salon Manager in Los Angeles, CA before she started writing for Union of Barbers. With over 10 years of experience, she has tried hundreds of hair care products and has seen, styled, and treated all types of hair. Now, she shares all of the things she has learned in the hair industry and gives advice on everything about hair. When she’s not writing, you can find Diana at the beach on her yoga mat!