early signs of balding

Early Signs of Balding – How to Tell If You’re Going Bald

Despite our community being one that is built around the idea of embracing the bald look, we still seem to get a lot of visitors that aren’t quite at that stage yet. Because of the demand, we decided to do a post on the early signs of balding. Most guys when they first notice their hair falling out, it’s not even a question – it’s obvious. That’s not the case for everybody though, there are certainly a lot of false alarms that can be misinterpreted as an early sign of balding. With that, let’s get into it – early signs of balding.

We split this into two sections, both are pretty comprehensive but feel free to poke around.

  • False alarms that aren’t early signs of balding
  • Actual early signs of balding
  • What to do

One last thing before we start – if you determine you are going bald, don’t panic! You’ll realize a few years from now how silly it is to worry about it. 

False Alarms

The Cowlick

The cowlick is the single most common false alarm to baldness. There are a few ways to tell whether or not what you have is a cowlick or an early sign of balding.

  • First – ask people who’ve known you for a while or look at old pictures of yourself. Check to see if the cowlick has been there a for long time and you were just unaware, or if it’s new development. If it’s new, it could be a sign of baldness.
  • Second – Check your hairline. If it is in fact male pattern baldness, there should be some slight thinning or recession along the hairline. It’s highly unlikely to be baldness if your hairline is still at 100%.
  • Third – The shape, direction, and thickness of surrounding hair. Male pattern baldness tends to thin out surrounding areas before a single area is completely “bald”. If you have a tiny bald spot surrounded by perfectly thick hair, you’re probably okay. It’s just a cowlick. If, on the other hand, nowhere is completely bald but there is a general trend of thinning, you might want to get it checked out by a dermatologist.
signs of balding
A double cowlick HorsePunchKid // CC-BY-SA-3.0

Telogen Effluvium

Another false alarm often mistaken as one of the potential early signs of baldness. Telogen Effluvium is a form of hair loss, but it’s only temporary. The difference between Talgen Effluvium and Male Pattern baldness, visually, is found within the names. Male Pattern baldness. Generally with male pattern baldness, there is a very standard pattern being followed. Either hair is thinning from the crown, receding from the hairline, or slowly thinning on top.

On the other hand, Telogen Effluvium follows no pattern – it is scattered, essentially random loss of hair on the top and sides of the head.

Fortunately, Telogen Effluvium is temporary and will usually reverse itself over time. TE is often caused by periods of extreme stress, so take a look at your lifestyle. Try meditating, working less, exercising more, and enjoying good company.

If you think you have Telogen Effluvium

Normal Aging

As you get older, your hairline may recede but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re balding. A good way to tell is to check your brothers, uncles, fathers or grandfathers hair. Are any of them bald, or do they have receded hairlines? Your answer lies within your lineage. Once you start getting into your mid 20’s and beyond, a maturing hairline is completely normal and not to mistaken as a sign of baldness. Despite what television may make you think, it is actually very uncommon for a man to have a perfect hairline into old age.

Actual Early Signs of Balding

Excess Hairs In the Shower

Losing more hair than normal in the shower? Most people lose plenty of hair throughout the day, but if you are seeing more than normal collect in the drain – it’s worth discussing with a dermatologist.

A Receded Hairline

A receded hairline may or may not be a sign of balding, it really depends on your genetics. Some men age and their hairline moves back a little, but the difference should be fairly obvious. If your hairline moves back beyond a certain point, begins forming an ‘m’ shape, and you have a family history of hair loss, it’s probably a sign of baldness.

Crown Thinning

If the top/back of your head, known as ‘the crown’, is starting to look thin – you’re probably going bald. We’re not talking about a tiny bald spot like the cowlick mentioned above – male pattern baldness thinning should be obvious. It should slowly spread out, thinning the crown of your head.

A Family History of Hair loss

If you have a family history of hair loss and begin noticing any thinning or recession, there’s a really good chance you’re going to go bald. If anyone in your family is bald, your chances of going bald are significantly higher than the rest of the population. On this site, we encourage accepting your fate. Being bald is epic – it’s masculine, easy, and raw. However, if you want to prevent this outcome, keep reading as there are legitimate medical solutions to prevent further hair loss.

A Tingling Sensation on Your Scalp

Diffuse thinners seem to feel this the most, but if you feel a strange, tingling-like sensation in the scalp, it could be hair loss. The feeling isn’t painful nor is it pleasurable, it’s just a weird tingling in the scalp you get when you’re losing your hair. It’s much more common in diffuse thinners, and usually a sign of aggressive balding.

What To Do If You’re Going Bald

Don’t freak out! There are 2 paths, as far as I can tell, to take with hair loss. You can either fight it or accept it.

Path 1 – Embrace the bald.

The majority of guys who have been bald for a while to tell you to go this route. It’ll save you years of anxiety, and you’ll quickly get it over with.

Relevant posts about embracing it –

Path 2 – Fight the bald

Realistically, when it comes to hair loss – most guys go down swinging. We really recommend just buzzing it off, but if you must go this route there are some things you should know.

This paragraph is going to save you a lot of time researching snake oil and false claims. The most effective way to fight hair loss is “the big 3.” It’s a combination of 3 products, that together are very effective in maintaining your hair. The big 3 is made up of minoxidil, finasteride, and Ketoconazole. That combination can keep and regrow a full head of hair for essentially the rest of your life. In the past 2 years, a new addition has been added to the big 3 called derma rolling that has shown extremely encouraging results. You can read about that here.

First is finasteride.

This is a prescription drug that significantly reduces DHT, which is an extremely potent form of testosterone circulating in the body. DHT is the primary antagonist in hair loss, as it is directly responsible for the miniaturization of hair follicles. It is responsible for many roles throughout the body, but most notably is sexual function in males. Because finasteride lowers DHT, there is risk of sexual dysfunction. This is a prescription drug, so you need to talk to your doctor. Work with them to discuss side effects and decide whether or not finasteride is right for you. We wrote an article about effective alternatives to finasteride, in case you’d like a less risky option.

Next is Minoxidil.

Minoxidil is a chemical that has been scientifically proven to stimulate hair growth. You probably know it as Rogaine, which is the big name branded minoxidil. It was discovered on accident, as it was initially a blood-pressure medication. In trials, some of the subjects started growing new hair and an entire new hair loss treatment was born. If you want to try minoxidil, Rogaine Foam is very simple and effective. Just be sure to follow the warnings and directions as labeled. We mention that because there are enough reports around the web of men experiencing side effects with minoxidil. We wrote about that here.

Third is Ketoconazole.

Ketoconazole is an anti fungal treatment found in many shampoos, which theoretically can lower DHT in the scalp. That is just psuedo science as far as we can tell, but one thing is certain – it keeps the scalp clean and is great at clearing dandruff. It certainly can’t hurt to keep your scalp clean. One thing to keep in mind though, is that it’s only supposed to be used 2-3x weekly. If you want to try a Ketoconazole shampoo, Regenepure DR is the best you’re going to get as it’s targeted for hair loss specifically and has a host of other helpful ingredients. Ketoconazole is pretty safe as far as we can tell so we won’t lecture you on potential dangers there.

Fourth is derma rolling.

We wrote about that extensively here. The idea with derma rolling is essentially to wound the scalp, which in turn triggers a repair process to the damaged area. Damaging an area containing miniaturized hair follicles, in theory, will trigger a healing response to the entire area and repair those follicles over time. Be very careful with this and take extreme care with sanitization!

In Conclusion..

I hope you found this article helpful. I try to keep it real and put a lot of time into getting this information together for you all. I’d love it if you stuck around, read some more articles, and maybe even subscribed to the site. All the best.

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