Is this what balding looks like?
May 4, 2008 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Based on this picture and this one, do I appear to have the beginnings of male pattern baldness or something more harmless like a double crown?

Mid-20s male. Recently, someone pointed out that I might be in the very early stages of male-pattern baldness based on the visibility of my scalp in the crown area. However, as a child I remember hairstylists often mentioning that I had a "double crown" or "triple crown" or something similar. Based on that, I wasn't so worried at first. But after taking these pictures and having a look for myself, I'm a little worried after all. Before I see a doctor, I'd like to get some outside opinion.

Posted anon because I'm an embarrassed and vain coward.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
posted by furtive at 9:25 PM on May 4, 2008

Anon- baldness is just natural for some people, and it's not really a terrible thing. Your genetics factor into it (and are probably the predominant factor).

What does/did your dad look like with respect to his hair? Your grandfathers?

My first advice is don't be embarrassed, I've been baldish since my mid-30's and all it means to me is I spend somewhat less for shampoo. Grass doesn't grow on a busy street, and all that. Trust me on this- you'll be happier in the long run just to not let it worry you- you either will lose your hair, or you won't. There's really not much to be done about it and obsessing about it overly is not good for you.

Embarrassed? Nothing to really be about. Vain? maybe a little. Coward: I don't think so, else you would have worried and suffered in silence. I'm not making light of your fears, at your age, I can remember being vain about some things. Trust me, as time goes on, you'll worry less and less about this as you mature and realize that other stuff is so much more important.
posted by pjern at 9:38 PM on May 4, 2008

This sounds like something I would tell my friends/co-workers in order to freak them out. For example, I once told someone with a persistent cough that they had TB. Or one person with a metallic taste in their mouth that they were having a stroke. I'm just mean like that.

Anyway, here's the obligatory wiki article. Particularly:

Hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples. Over time, the hairline recedes to form a characteristic "M" shape. Hair also thins at the crown of the head, often progressing to partial or complete baldness.

So, stop obsessing about your crown and start looking closely at those temples. Also, how much hair do your parents and grandparents have? I know this is an incomplete indicator, but if they're 60 and still have a lot of hair I would stop worrying.
posted by sbutler at 9:47 PM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm no expert (except that my hair is falling out, too), but I'd say that yes, your hair is at least thinning, if not quite yet balding in a big way. (Unless, of course, you have always been able to see scalp in the crown of your head, in which case you are just someone with thin hair.) But if all of a sudden people are commenting on your scalp and on the balding thereof, that's as good a sign as you could ask for that you are commencing your journey into the virile sophistication of the balding man. If you aren't balding, no one makes those helpful comments about your scalp, you know? This is a where there's smoke there's fire situation, I'm sorry to say.

There have been plenty of previous threads about how to prevent, treat, and conceal baldness, and there is a huge industry ready to offer you an expensive variety of products and treatments. Honestly, once the thinning sets in for real, the only dignified approach is to cut it short (and when the thinning turns to balding, to get out the razor), but lots of people will deny that fervently. Anyone who tells you that a comb-over is a good idea, or that it makes you look like you still have hair, is deluded or lying. I guess really good toupees are invisible, but the ones you notice are really, really bad. And the other week I saw someone up close for the first time with those hair implants, or hair plugs, or whatever they are called -- he looked like he had portions of a paintbrush glued to his head. If you go that route, find a better doctor than he did.

Oh, and learn to wear hats -- a sunburned scalp hurts, and today I saw a dude with those dark skin lesions all over his scalp. Nasty. Even the ugliest hat beats having weird sores on top of your head for the rest of your life.
posted by Forktine at 9:48 PM on May 4, 2008

If it's male pattern baldness, your doctor is not going to be able to do squat for it anyway. So, your problem is not male pattern baldness, it's fear of male pattern baldness.

What you need to do right now is wrest control of your own mind back from the advertising industry. Shave the whole lot off. Take it down to 1/8" or less. Get your friends and acquaintances accustomed to seeing you do this every so often.

I speak as one who used to get about in dreads, but was gently persuaded that Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Show was not a look I wanted to embrace in my declining years.
posted by flabdablet at 10:00 PM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Looks like a beta carotene overdose to me.

What's on your dad's head? Usually, male pattern baldness is passed from father to son. If he's balding, you're more likely to lose hair. If your dad still has his hair, I'd probably not worry so much
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 PM on May 4, 2008

Blazecock Pileon: What's on your dad's head? Usually, male pattern baldness is passed from father to son. If he's balding, you're more likely to lose hair. If your dad still has his hair, I'd probably not worry so much

I disagree with that, unless you have some recent evidence to back it up. My aunt (who taught college genetics for many years) said it principally comes from the female side. The wiki article I linked earlier has this to say (which take the middle road):

Paternal hair loss has been shown to correlate with chances of alopecia in sons, while variations in the androgen receptor gene (AR), which can also correlate with baldness, are X linked and thus inherited from one's maternal grandfather or grandmother.

A search on Straight Dope is more one sided (from 2005):

Preliminary investigations hinted that baldness had something to do with the sex chromosomes--to be precise, the X chromosome, which a man inherits from his mother. (His father contributes the Y chromosome that makes him male.) Now comes a German study (Hillmer et al, American Journal of Human Genetics, July 2005) stating flatly that the major determinant of early baldness is a gene men get from their moms.

The researchers, led by Markus Nöthen of the University of Bonn, rounded up several hundred balding and nonbalding men and compared their androgen receptor (AR) genes, which are located on the X chromosome. Androgens (male sex hormones) play a key role in balding--castrated men don't go bald--and the AR gene helps them do their work. The researchers found the balding men were much more likely to have a particular version of the AR gene than the nonbalding men, which they took to mean they'd found a genetic variant that triggers baldness. Nöthen and company emphasize that this variant isn't the sole cause of baldness--other recent research suggests that baldness on your father's side of the family has something to do with it too. No doubt this helps explain cases of hairy maternal grandpa/bald dad/bald son. But Nöthen's group thinks the mother's contribution is the principal factor.

That article is all over the first page results on Google for genetics male pattern baldness.

I don't know what the popular research says, or if there is even any popular research. Which is why I suggested looking at all the grandparents, although personally I'd be more worried about baldness on my mother's side.
posted by sbutler at 10:57 PM on May 4, 2008

Ask your mother what the back of your head looked like when you were growing up. (Siblings may also remember if your double crown was the subject of family jokes).
posted by metahawk at 11:38 PM on May 4, 2008

If it's male pattern baldness, your doctor is not going to be able to do squat for it anyway.

this is incorrect; the doc could prescribe finasteride.
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:42 PM on May 4, 2008

Doesn't really look like it to me. The hair isn't really thinning, you can just see the crown because of the way it grows. Thinning is basically having fewer hairs per square inch, which doesn't seem to be happening there.

I agree with the other poster that male pattern baldness is passed through the maternal line (unfortunately for me). Look at the men on your mother's side of the family: your maternal grandfather and any uncles you have. If they have it, you probably will too.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:08 AM on May 5, 2008

Seconding what Forktine says. As you probably know, baldness is hereditary, so whether you're inclined to go bald or not is really out of your hands.

But if you do start to go bald, please never, ever, ever do the combover. As a woman I can tell you two things: it looks ridiculous and everyone can tell it's a combover. And once you start on that route, you'll feel that there's no going back and you'll end up in an ever more complex coiffure routine involving mousse, sprays and gels to keep it all in place. You'll be nervous every time you go out in windy weather.

The toupée is no better unless you can afford movie star prices. Any other toupée will look like you've got a dead guinea pig on your head. And Everyone Will Know It's A Wig. People will snigger behind your back. Some will snigger to your face.

Likewise the hair transplant malarkey. I once knew someone who had it done. All these neat little rows of plugs across his scalp, exactly like doll hair. It looked fake and you couldn't take your eyes off it, so it drew attention to his underlying baldness.

So, embrace your inner baldie should it happen to you. A balding man with cropped hair who is confident about himself is sexy. A man who's worried about whether the breeze will flip his intricate combover or who freezes every time a woman wants to run her fingers through his 'hair' will come across as vain and a little weird.

Oh, and if you do go bald and wear a hat, don't make this mistake ...
posted by essexjan at 1:11 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why would you go see your doctor? Its not a disease (and it can't be cured, finasteride only works as long as you keep taking it, are you really that vain?)

FWIW, your hair looks perfectly normal to me (dodgy camerawork aside). If you're worried, looking at your grandparents will give you *some* idea of whether you'll go bald but its not a guarantee - my dad is 57 and he has a little thinning around the temples and crown (and a couple of distinguished grey stripes) whereas his brother has been very bald (enough to do the combover) for as long as I can remember.
posted by missmagenta at 1:46 AM on May 5, 2008

"Finasteride is under investigation by the Swedish Medical Products Agency for possibly causing irreversible sexual side effects."
I wouldn't risk it until the investigation is over.
On the subject of baldness, it started for me in my mid-20's as well. It started from the front so i can't really tell if you're in trouble or not. it wasn't as fast as i expected it would be actually. 5 years later it shows but it's not the end of the world. I'll echo everyone else, forget about it, there's nothing that can be done, save your money, no need to see a doctor.
posted by SageLeVoid at 8:24 AM on May 5, 2008

Embrace your [pending] baldness. There is life after hair! ;-)
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:00 AM on May 5, 2008

« Older Deleting My Account   |   Could US farmers go without subsidies? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.