HomeBlogHair LossWhat is the Average Age People Start Losing Hair?

What is the Average Age People Start Losing Hair?

Understanding the onset of hair loss presents a complex puzzle many seek to solve, particularly in answering the question: what age do men start balding? This condition, often perceived as an inevitable milestone of aging, strikes a chord with individuals concerned about their appearance and self-perception. 

The significance of this topic extends beyond vanity, touching on aspects of psychological well-being and identity, making it a subject of much interest and concern. The journey to uncovering why individuals experience hair loss, particularly at what age does hair loss start, involves exploring various factors ranging from genetic predispositions to lifestyle choices.

young man serious hair loss

In this article, we will delve into the physiological and genetic underpinnings of hair loss, offering insights into why some men and women might find themselves asking, “why am I going bald?” By examining when balding starts, and the different rates at which individuals might experience hair loss, we will also discuss the hair loss age range and explore why people go bald. Furthermore, the distinctions between hair loss in men and women will be addressed, alongside prevention strategies, early interventions, and available treatment options. Our aim is not only to inform but also to provide solace and guidance to those navigating this often sensitive issue, reassuring our readers that understanding and solutions are within reach.

Understanding Hair Loss

What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss, medically termed alopecia, occurs due to disruptions in the body’s natural hair production cycle. This cycle includes phases of growth, rest, shedding, and regeneration. The scalp typically houses around 100,000 hairs, which undergo these phases. However, if the cycle is interrupted or if a hair follicle sustains damage, the result can be accelerated hair loss. This might manifest as a receding hairline, patchy hair loss, or general thinning across the scalp.

Types of Hair Loss

Hair loss manifests in various forms, each with distinct characteristics and underlying causes:

  1. Androgenetic Alopecia: The most prevalent form of hair loss, affecting over 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States alone. Also known as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss, this hereditary condition can be managed through medications or surgical interventions.
  2. Telogen Effluvium: This condition involves a significant number of hair follicles entering the resting phase simultaneously without progressing to the regrowth stage, leading to widespread thinning.
  3. Anagen Effluvium: Typically associated with chemotherapy or other potent medical treatments, this type of hair loss is rapid and extensive but often reversible once the treatment concludes.
  4. Alopecia Areata: An autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy hair follicles, leading to sudden hair loss.
  5. Tinea Capitis: Commonly known as scalp ringworm, this fungal infection primarily affects children, causing patchy hair loss.
  6. Cicatricial Alopecia: A rare, inflammatory condition where scar tissue replaces hair follicles, permanently impeding hair regrowth.
  7. Hair Shaft Abnormalities: Conditions that weaken hair strands, making them prone to breakage. This type of loss occurs along the hair shaft rather than at the follicle.

Each type of hair loss has specific characteristics and potential treatments, which can vary based on the underlying cause. Understanding these can help individuals seek appropriate medical advice and treatment options.

hair loss women

Genetic Factors of Hair Loss

Role of Genetics

Hereditary-pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, stands as the most prevalent cause of hair loss, affecting a significant portion of the population. This condition is not considered a disease but rather a natural consequence of genetics, hormone levels, and the aging process. Research has shown that under the influence of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, the normal cycle of hair growth is altered. This alteration leads to shorter, thinner, or “miniaturized” hair, and eventually, hair growth ceases in certain areas of the scalp, leading to the characteristic patterns of hair loss.

The genetic basis of hereditary-pattern baldness involves a complex interplay of genes inherited from both parents, contrary to the common belief that baldness is only inherited from the mother’s side. 

Studies, including those leveraging data from over 52,000 participants in the UK Biobank, have identified more than 250 independent genetic loci associated with severe hair loss. These findings underscore the significant heritability of baldness, estimated through twin studies and molecular-genetic methods to account for approximately 80% of the variance in male pattern baldness.

Hereditary Patterns

Diagnosing hereditary-pattern baldness typically involves observing the pattern of hair loss and confirming a family history of similar hair loss. No further tests are generally required beyond these observations. For those beginning to experience hereditary hair loss, treatments such as minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) may slow the progression. Minoxidil is suitable for use by both men and women, whereas finasteride is usually reserved for men.

The impact of male pattern baldness extends beyond aesthetics, linking phenotypically to adverse health outcomes like prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. This association highlights the importance of understanding the genetic architecture of baldness. Advances in genetic research have led to the development of prediction algorithms based on common genetic variants, offering insights into an individual’s risk of experiencing severe hair loss and paving the way for targeted interventions.

In summary, the genetic factors influencing hair loss are significant and complex, involving multiple genes and their interactions. While the inheritance pattern can sometimes appear straightforward, the underlying genetic mechanisms are intricate, involving not only the well-known androgen receptor gene but also numerous other genes that contribute to the trait.

Age and Hair Loss

Understanding the correlation between age and hair loss is pivotal for addressing this common concern. Hair loss can manifest at various stages of life, influenced by a myriad of factors ranging from genetic predisposition to environmental impacts.

Average Age of Hair Loss

The onset of hair loss varies significantly among individuals, but patterns have been identified through extensive studies. Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, can begin as early as the teenage years and progresses with age. By the age of 20, approximately 20% of men experience visible hair loss, which increases to 25% by age 30. By the time men reach 50, about half will have noticeable hair loss, and this figure rises to two-thirds by age 60.

For women, the pattern can be similar, though often less severe. Female pattern baldness generally becomes noticeable later in life, post-menopause, with thinning hair rather than complete baldness. The likelihood of experiencing hair loss increases with age, with significant hair thinning often occurring during the 60s and beyond.

Age-Specific Factors

Several intrinsic and extrinsic factors contribute to hair loss as one ages:

  • Genetics: A primary determinant, as a family history of baldness increases the likelihood of experiencing similar patterns.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormones play a crucial role in regulating hair growth. Disruptions, such as those from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women, can lead to hair loss.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, pollution, and smoking can exacerbate hair thinning. Studies show that smokers are at a higher risk of premature hair graying and hair loss.
  • Nutritional Status: Poor nutrition can impact hair health, leading to weakened hair and accelerated hair loss.
  • Aging of Hair Follicles: As individuals age, hair follicles can shrink, and the growth phase of hair cycles shortens, leading to thinner and shorter hair strands.

Understanding these factors is crucial for both preventing and managing hair loss. Treatments such as minoxidil are effective across different ages and work independently of androgen metabolism, making them suitable for older adults experiencing hair thinning.

By recognizing the signs early and consulting healthcare professionals, individuals can better manage hair loss through appropriate interventions tailored to their age and specific circumstances.

Factors Affecting Hair Loss

Medical Conditions

Hair loss can often be a symptom of various medical conditions, highlighting the intricate relationship between health and hair growth. Conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), syphilis, thyroid disorders, and serious nutritional problems like deficiencies in protein, iron, zinc, or biotin significantly impact hair health. These deficiencies are particularly common among individuals with restrictive diets or women experiencing heavy menstrual flows. Medical tests, such as blood tests for thyroid issues or iron deficiency and scalp samples for fungal infections, are crucial in diagnosing and understanding the underlying causes of hair loss.

Lifestyle and Diet

The influence of lifestyle choices and dietary habits on hair health cannot be overstated. Aggressive styling tools like blow dryers and chemical treatments such as perms and dyes can weaken hair and contribute to hair loss. Nutritional intake plays a pivotal role, with deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, zinc, and iron leading to weakened hair follicles and subsequent hair loss. Conversely, a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients supports hair growth and maintenance. For instance, inadequate protein intake and rapid weight loss can trigger a condition known as telogen effluvium, characterized by excessive hair shedding.

Stress and Emotional Factors

Chronic and emotional stress are significant contributors to hair loss. The body’s response to prolonged stress can alter the normal hair growth cycle, pushing hair follicles into a prolonged resting phase without progression to the regrowth stage. This type of stress-induced hair loss, while often not permanent, requires time for recovery.

 Emotional upheavals such as heartbreak or anxiety do not directly cause hair loss but exacerbate it by influencing hormonal balances and nutrient allocation, essential for healthy hair growth. Managing stress through therapeutic interventions can mitigate its effects and support hair recovery.

Understanding these factors provides a foundation for addressing hair loss with targeted treatments and lifestyle adjustments, offering hope and solutions to those affected.

Hair Loss in Men

Male androgenetic alopecia (MAA), commonly known as male pattern baldness, is the most prevalent form of hair loss affecting men. By the age of 50, it impacts 30-50% of men, with variations in incidence and severity across different ethnicities. Caucasian men tend to experience more advanced and earlier onset of alopecia compared to Mongolian and other populations. For instance, Japanese men typically see the onset of MAA about a decade later than Caucasians. Conversely, Black, Oriental, Native American, and African-American men often retain their frontal hairlines longer and experience less extensive and later-onset baldness.

Patterns

The progression of male pattern baldness is typically categorized using the Hamilton-Norwood scale, which outlines seven stages of hair loss:

  1. Stage 1: Little to no hair loss or hairline recession.
  2. Stage 2: Slight hair loss near the temples.
  3. Stage 3: Deep hairline recession around the temples, often forming an “M” or “U” shape.
  4. Stage 4: Very deep hairline recession with hair loss at the top of the head (crown).
  5. Stage 5: Hairline recession connects to the bald spot on the crown.
  6. Stage 6: Thinning or loss of hair between the temples and crown.
  7. Stage 7: Complete hair loss on the top of the head with only a thin band of hair remaining around the sides.

Statistics

Studies across various populations have documented the age prevalence of MAA. In Australia, a study involving 1,390 men aged between 40 and 69 found that the prevalence of vertex or full baldness increases with age—from 31% among those aged 40-55 to 53% among those aged 65-69. Similarly, in the United States, a survey reported a 53% prevalence of moderate or severe MAA among men aged 40-49. The incidence of MAA also rises with age in the Korean population, with type III-vertex involvement most commonly seen from the third to the seventh decades. In Singapore, the prevalence of MAA was reported to be 63%, escalating from 32% at ages 17-26 to 100% after age 80.

The onset of male pattern hair loss can vary, beginning as early as the late teens or early twenties, though it is more common for signs to appear later in life. By the age of 50, more than half of white men show visible signs of male pattern hair loss, such as noticeable thinning, a receding hairline, or balding. The development of this condition tends to occur gradually, often starting with a receding hairline or bald spot on the top of the head and potentially leading to more extensive thinning and hair loss over the years.

This comprehensive understanding of male pattern baldness, including its patterns and statistics, highlights the importance of recognizing the signs early. By consulting healthcare professionals, individuals can explore appropriate interventions tailored to their specific circumstances, thereby managing this common yet distressing condition more effectively.

Hair Loss in Women

Female pattern hair loss (FPHL), also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most prevalent form of hair loss affecting women. It is characterized by a progressive thinning of hair primarily on the crown and frontal scalp, while generally maintaining the hairline. Unlike male pattern baldness, where bald patches are more apparent, female pattern baldness usually presents as a diffuse thinning of hair across the top of the head. This pattern is often described as a ‘Christmas tree’ pattern due to the widening part at the center of the scalp.

Patterns

The Ludwig Classification is commonly used to categorize the severity of female pattern hair loss. It identifies three types:

  1. Type I: Minimal thinning that can be easily camouflaged with hair styling techniques.
  2. Type II: Marked decrease in hair volume and noticeable widening of the mid-line part.
  3. Type III: Extensive hair thinning that results in a see-through appearance at the top of the scalp.

Each type reflects an increasing severity of hair loss, impacting not only the physical appearance but also potentially leading to psychological distress and reduced social functioning. Women may first notice these changes during significant hormonal shifts, such as those occurring at menopause.

Statistics

Studies indicate that FPHL affects approximately 40% of women by the age of 50. The prevalence of this condition increases with age, affecting up to two-thirds of postmenopausal women. The onset can vary but often begins any time after puberty, with a noticeable increase around menopause when hair loss generally becomes more pronounced.

Among different populations, the frequency of FPHL can vary, and it is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. For instance, about 6% to 38% of healthy women experience some degree of frontal and/or frontal-parietal hair loss. The age of onset differs, with 12% of women developing clinically detectable FPHL by age 29, 25% by age 49, 41% by age 69, and more than 50% by age 79.

It’s important to note that while the physical health impacts of FPHL are generally limited, the psychosocial and psychological repercussions can be significant. Women experiencing this form of hair loss may suffer from emotional stress, anxiety, and depression due to changes in their appearance.

In addressing FPHL, understanding the underlying hormonal, genetic, and environmental influences is crucial for effective management and treatment. Options may include medications, red light therapy, or specific hair styling techniques designed to make hair appear fuller. Early intervention and appropriate treatment can help manage the condition’s progression and mitigate its emotional and psychological effects.

Prevention and Early Intervention

Healthy Habits

Preventing hair loss starts with adopting healthy hair care practices. Simple adjustments to daily routines can significantly impact overall hair health and potentially prevent hair loss. Here are some key strategies:

  1. Avoid Hairstyles that Pull on the Hair: Styles that tightly pull the hair, such as ponytails, buns, and braids, can lead to a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia. Opting for looser hairstyles can prevent this condition.
  2. Minimize Heat and Chemical Treatments: Frequent use of high-heat styling tools and harsh chemical treatments can damage hair follicles. Limiting the use of hair dryers, straighteners, and chemical relaxers or dyes can help maintain hair integrity.
  3. Choose the Right Hair Care Products: Using a mild shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner can help maintain scalp health and prevent hair breakage. Select products that are suitable for your hair type and avoid those that strip moisture from your hair.
  4. Nutritional Considerations: A diet rich in antioxidants can combat oxidative stress, which is linked to hair loss. Avoiding excessive intake of sugar, processed fats, and alcohol can also support hair health.
  5. Smoking Cessation: Smoking can exacerbate hair loss by damaging hair follicles. Quitting smoking can improve follicle health and overall well-being.
  6. Gentle Hair Handling: Brushing or combing hair gently and only as much as necessary can prevent unnecessary stress on hair follicles. Using a soft brush made from natural fibers can also help distribute natural oils throughout the hair, enhancing its condition.

Early Treatments

Addressing hair loss in its early stages can significantly improve the effectiveness of treatment efforts. Here are some early intervention strategies:

  1. Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT): This treatment uses low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate hair growth by enhancing cell metabolism and reducing inflammation. Although LLLT can be costly, it is a non-invasive option for promoting hair health.
  2. Scalp Massage: Regular scalp massages may increase blood flow to the scalp and stimulate hair follicles. While evidence of its effectiveness in promoting hair growth is limited, it is a relaxing practice that can be beneficial for overall scalp health.
  3. Proper Nutritional Supplements: While not all supplements are effective for preventing hair loss, certain nutrients like vitamin D might be helpful. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.
  4. Use of Minoxidil: This topical medication is available over the counter and is approved for the treatment of hair loss. It works by prolonging the growth phase of hair follicles, potentially slowing hair loss and promoting regrowth.
  5. Consultation with a Dermatologist: For persistent hair loss, consulting a dermatologist can provide tailored advice and treatment options based on the underlying cause of hair loss.

By combining healthy hair care practices with proactive treatment approaches, individuals can effectively manage and potentially prevent hair loss. It is crucial to start these interventions early to maximize the health of the hair and scalp.

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments for hair loss have become increasingly popular due to their ease of use and accessibility. These treatments include a range of options from over-the-counter products to more advanced therapies.

  1. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): PRP therapy is a promising non-surgical treatment that utilizes the patient’s own blood to stimulate hair growth. The blood is processed to enrich platelets, which are then injected into the scalp. These platelets release growth factors that encourage hair follicle activity and can lead to thicker, fuller hair. While some patients report discomfort during the procedure, the overall feedback is positive, with many experiencing significant hair improvement.
  2. Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT): This treatment uses medical-grade lasers to stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles, which can promote hair growth. LLLT devices, such as laser combs and helmets, are available for both clinical and home use, providing a convenient option for continuous treatment.
  3. Topical Treatments: Products like minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) are commonly used to combat hair loss. These medications work by slowing hair loss and promoting regrowth, but they require ongoing use to maintain results.
  4. Hair Stimulating Tablets: These include FDA-approved and natural supplements designed to support hair health from within. Common ingredients in these tablets, such as DHT blockers and essential nutrients, help in reducing hair loss and enhancing hair growth.
  5. Healthy Scalp Treatments: Treatments like Hydrafacial Keravive focus on nourishing and hydrating the scalp, creating a healthier environment for hair growth. These treatments are beneficial for individuals experiencing hair thinning due to environmental factors or hormonal changes.

Surgical Treatments

For those looking for more permanent solutions, surgical treatments may be considered. These procedures typically involve hair transplantation, where hair follicles are moved from one part of the scalp to another.

  1. Hair Transplant Surgery: There are two main techniques used in hair transplant surgery:
    • Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT): This method involves removing a strip of hair-bearing skin from the back of the scalp and transplanting individual follicular units to the balding areas.
    • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): In FUE, individual hair follicles are extracted directly from the scalp and transplanted to the bald areas. This technique is less invasive than FUT and does not leave a linear scar.
  2. Scalp Reduction: This surgical procedure involves removing non-hair-bearing areas of the scalp and stretching the remaining skin to reduce the bald area.
  3. Scalp Flaps and Hair Grafting: Advanced techniques like scalp flaps or grafting involve moving large sections of hair-bearing scalp to bald areas, providing immediate results in terms of hair density and coverage.

Choosing the Right Treatment

Choosing the right treatment for hair loss depends on several factors, including the cause of hair loss, the extent of hair thinning, patient preferences, and overall health. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on individual needs and goals. A thorough assessment, including a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests, will help tailor the treatment options effectively.

Conclusion

Throughout this comprehensive exploration of hair loss, we have delved into the multifaceted aspects encompassing its causes, the interplay of genetic factors, the variances in age and gender, and the numerous available treatments and preventive strategies. By understanding the intricate dynamics of hair growth and loss, combined with a practical grasp of the preventative and therapeutic options at our disposal, individuals facing this challenge can navigate their journey with greater confidence and clarity. The fusion of clinical insight with a compassionate outlook underscores the importance of addressing not only the physical dimensions of hair loss but also its psychological impacts, offering solace and a pathway to regain not only one’s hair but also one’s self-esteem and sense of identity.

For those seeking to take a proactive step towards addressing hair loss, our expertly crafted approach balances medical precision with empathetic care, ensuring that each person’s experience is understood and meticulously catered to. Get a Free Hair Analysis and Quote and allow our team to craft a personalized restoration plan tailored to your unique needs. In doing so, you embark on a journey not just of recovery but of rediscovery, guided by insights that marry the latest in medical advancements with a deep understanding of the personal voyage that hair loss represents. Together, we strive not only to restore what has been lost but to rebuild confidence and redefine beauty on your own terms, reaffirming the notion that with the right knowledge and support, the path to resilience is within reach.

FAQs

What is the typical age range for beginning to experience hair loss?

Hair loss commonly begins as people age, particularly in those assigned male at birth. Approximately 25% start showing signs of hair loss before the age of 21. By the age of 50, about half of these individuals will experience some degree of hair loss, and this increases to around 70% in older age. The hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a type of androgen, plays a significant role in this process.

Can a deficiency in certain vitamins lead to hair loss?

Yes, deficiencies in specific vitamins such as riboflavin (Vitamin B2), biotin, folate, and vitamin B12 have been linked to hair loss. Riboflavin is crucial as it helps in forming two essential coenzymes: flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD).

What percentage of 40-year-olds experience noticeable hair loss?

A significant number of individuals, about 55%, show noticeable signs of hair loss or male pattern baldness by the age of 40. This includes those who may have started losing hair in their teens.

Is it possible to reverse hair loss at stage 3?

Hair loss at stage 3 on the Norwood scale can often be addressed with a follicular unit excision (FUE) hair transplant. This procedure involves extracting individual hair follicles from the sides and back of the head and transplanting them to areas with thinning hair, effectively combating pattern baldness.

Fahmida is an intern doctor in Bangladesh with eight high-impact publications in Q1 journals on emerging health issues and was awarded the “Inspiring Women Volunteer Award” in 2022 by the UN Bangladesh.


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