The Norwood scale for hair loss (also known as Hamilton-Norwood scale) is the most common method of measuring the progression of male pattern baldness in men. Although it was invented in the 1950s, and later improved in the 1970s, it is still widely used today.
This method uses 7 different stages to classify the stages of male pattern baldness, with each stage associated to a common hair loss shape pattern. Let’s have a look at the 7 different stages of male pattern baldness.
The 7 stages of male pattern baldness
The first stage of the Norwood scale is the stage we all strive to be in. It is the perfect stage where hair loss doesn’t exist at all, the hair is full, and there are no signs of baldness. Unfortunately, we hair loss sufferers slowly move from this stage to the next advanced stages.
In this stage, hair loss only begins as there is a slight hair recession around the temples. It might not even be noticeable if the hair is long. Most of the hair still looks full at this stage.
This is where things start to get interesting. Hair loss becomes noticeable as the hair line significantly recedes backwards forming an M or V shape. Hair loss is most apparent on the front and temples.
Stage 3 vertex:
During this stage men will experience significant hair loss on the crown (the vertex). The receding hair line will be less visible than in stage 3 though.
The hairline recedes even further, and there is very little hair or none on the temples. There is a bald spot on the crown as well. The crown and the receding hairline are connected by a strip of hair which also connects to the hair on the sides.
This stage is a progression of the previous stage 4. The shape of the hair is the same, but in this stage the strip of hair between the receding hair and the balding crown is even smaller.
The front and top of the head are mostly bald in this stage. The strip of hair that used to connect the two areas is now gone, and these areas are now joined together. There is little hair left on the sides of the scalp.
The last stage. The hair on the sides of the head is almost gone too. What remains is the part of the hair that is not DHT sensitive, which is on the lower back side of the head and on the sides just around the ears.
At which stage should you start treating hair loss?
The sooner you start treatment, the better. Ideally it would be best to start treatment during stage 2, or in the early stages of stage 3. During these stages it becomes critical to stop hair loss, as most hair follicles are still producing hair and hair growth is still significant.
It is still possible to regrow some hair at stage 4, but it becomes much harder since many hair follicles have already stopped producing hair. At stage 5 and above it is probably pointless to start medical or topical treatments, but it could be a good idea to consider a hair transplant.
Currently available male pattern baldness treatments
If you decide to treat your baldness, fortunately there are some great treatments available. The two most common and FDA approved treatments are Finasteride (sold under the brand name Propecia) and Minoxidil.
But there are other treatments you can try, like Topical Finasteride which has far less side effects than propecia.
A Derma Roller is another good option, especially when used with Minoxidil. It is a hand held device with a cylinder roller that is covered with small needles, and is used to stimulate the production of a protein that leads to hair growth, and inhibit a protein that causes hair loss.
The Norwood scale is a great tool to measure your current male pattern baldness stage, and predict its progression. It is used extensively by doctors and patients, and also by researchers when conducting a hair loss study.
Knowing at which norwood stage a person is can help determine the best course of treatment.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have any questions or comments please add them below.