early signs of balding hair fall
Written by
Morgan German
Medically approved by
Amy Revene M.B.B.S

Early balding doesn't necessarily happen due to genetic factors. One prominent sign is that hair falls out of the scalp in small or large patches. If your hair falls while you're moving your hands through it, then alopecia areata may be the root problem.

In the case of regular hair loss, you don't lose hair in swatches, and particularly from a specific area. However, if the condition worsens and hair loss happens in patches, it's a significant sign of balding.

It's typical to lose anywhere between 50 to 100 hair strands. If it exceeds that mark, chances are you might be having early balding. There may be one or many causes behind the signs of balding appearing early.

It is vital to understand the early signs of balding so that it is possible for you to distinguish it from regular thinning hair.

How do you know if your hair is balding?

a guy showing signs of balding

Early hair balding or alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder.

You may see one or some of the following signs showing up in your hair volume:

  • Your hair will lose its thickness gradually. For instance, if you wear a ponytail, your scalp would appear as hair gets thinner.
  • Whenever your hair part, the parting seems larger than before.
  • Hair loss may be increasing day by day.
  • Hair clumps may appear more prominent.

Therefore, the overall effect of early balding is more significant compared to regular hair loss. However, with average hair loss, you won't lose volume significantly, as is the case with balding.

If you want to know more about balding itself, read our medically-approved balding guide.

Signs of early balding vs. usual hair loss

There are some differences between balding and hair loss. How could you distinguish between the signs of early balding and hair loss? With regular hair loss, there won't be severe excessive symptoms such as:

  • Hair thinning happening in the form of patches
  • Male pattern baldness may also affect hair in other parts of the body, for example, eyelashes or eyebrows.
  • You may find hair loss or hair growth occurring in unusual parts of your body.

In regular hair loss, you will lose strands that could be from multiple areas in your scalp. Whether the strand loss is normal (between 50 to 100) or greater than that, if your hair isn't falling off your scalp in the form of patches, then it's a normal hair loss sign rather than excessive hair loss.

How fast do early signs of balding develop and worsen?

The pace at which alopecia happens may differ from regular hair loss.

Is it possible to control early signs of balding? Yes, you could prevent alopecia signs from taking a toll on your health. The pace at which these signs get worse may be different for both men and women.

For men, the stages are usually characterized using the Hamilton-Norwood scale.

norwood scale of signs of balding in men

In women, the hair loss stages are classified using the Ludwig scale.

Ludwig scale of signs of balding in women

Overall, the effects and apparent signs may become more worrisome over some years. There is no fixed age at which early balding signs may begin to appear. Similarly, there's no specific period over which the symptoms may start to increase and get worse.

What causes early balding?

Aging is hardly ever the reason behind early baldness on the scalp.

Although it can occur due to genetic factors, early balding signs are rarely linked to family members having the same issues.

The above causes are neutral, but there may be other severe health conditions behind early baldness too.

Severe health conditions that could provoke signs of balding

Other than the above general causes, there could be one of these few health conditions too:

  • Tinea capitis: This is a fungal infection that develops scars and spots on the scalp while promoting hair loss.
  • Telogen effluvium: This sudden hair loss condition happens due to extreme stress. The stress type is usually chronic and occurs over the long term.
  • Cicatricial alopecia: This condition causes ever-lasting and long-term damage to the hair follicle. It results in a lack of hair growth and also accelerates tissue growth rather than new hair.
  • Thyroid issues: An unhealthy thyroid condition is subtle and may not show signs at all. If you can't find any reason for your lost hair, it's best to check with the doctor.

To understand the actual reason behind your symptoms, it's best to check with a doctor.

Signs you MIGHT NOT be balding

Some signs may look like alopecia or early baldness, but they're not!

  • Hair clumping together and appearing thinner on your scalp when it's not (after a shower or applying oil)
  • Hair strands in your hands while rinsing your hair during a shower may be signs of regular, infrequent hair loss rather than baldness
  • You experience thinning hair after bathing - excessive hair on your comb or brush after bathing maybe because of wet hair
  • A widow's peak may not necessarily be the sign of hair baldness
  • Excessive itching may be a sign of dandruff. It's only a sign of early balding if the itchiness is accompanied by hair fall in the form of patches

The above hair loss signs are a part of your healthy hair growth cycle, so there's no need to panic. However, if any of the above happen suddenly, it's best to go for a checkup.

What does early balding look like?

Male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness may differ in how they take place.

Early baldness happens in the form of patches. But it may appear and occur slightly differently in men and women. So while the causes and signs may be the same, the patterns in both males and females are different.

Male early balding pattern

The one distinguishing factor in male pattern hair loss is the hair on the temples getting thinner. With men, the early sign of balding usually has asymmetrical, noticeable thinning hair like the one in the picture.

Female early balding pattern

However, with women, thinner hair starts to appear symmetrically and consistently over the entire head. Women may also not lose hair from the temples as much as from the top of the head.

The one similar pattern between male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss is hair falling out in large or small patches. And thinness overall on the hair on scalp is also a common factor in both men and women.

Side effects of signs of early balding

There are various side effects of early balding.

The signs of early balding could also be accompanied by other side effects such as:

  • Inflammation and regular, compulsive itching
  • A discharge from the bald spot.
  • Unusual hair growth in other body parts (or significant hair loss)
  • Extreme itching, causing rashes and red skin
  • A burning sensation in the areas where patches have developed

All the above signs could be moderate at first, except for patchy hair loss. However, this is the leading and most important symptom of alopecia in the condition.

How to prevent early signs of balding?

Prevention is better than cure. But if it's androgenetic alopecia (hereditary hair loss)

Here are some regular hair care tips you can follow to prevent baldness from getting worse:

  • Massaging your hair and scalp regularly with oil, ideally before you go for a shower
  • Wash regularly but not frequently. Too much shampoo and washing can contribute to dryness, which accelerates hair loss and may also contribute to early signs of balding
  • Avoid excessive usage of high-chemical products
  • Don't frequently use a straightener, curler, or other styling accessories that may cause heat damage to your hair

Apart from the above regular hair care, you should also eat food with proteins.

How to treat early signs of balding?

You could treat early balding with various hair restoration options.

Laser treatment:

This process involves using light and lasers to make the hair denser.

Hair transplantation:

A hair transplant is when hair from one part of the scalp skin is taken and transplanted into the balded areas.

Scalp micropigmentation:

Scalp micro-pigmentation is similar to tattooing. It uses micro-needles to deposit pigment into the scalp giving the appearance of the hair follicle.

Hair growth medication:

There is a medication that can be applied on the scalp, such as Minoxidil. Minoxidil is an FDA-approved hair loss treatment drug commonly used against hair loss.

Hormonal medication:

There may also be some medicines used to treat hormonal imbalance such as Finasteride.

Other than the above, treating your hair and caring for it regularly will help you prevent the early signs of balding.

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