Receded hairline, mostly at the temples, is usually a part of the process called pattern hair loss. It’s more common in men (it rarely affects women). Even though it’s usually nothing more than a cosmetic issue since it is harmless, sometimes it can be very bothersome. Can it grow back? Your treatment plays a key role!
What causes the problem?
The exact cause probably is not fully understood yet, though people believe it has to do with male hormones called androgens, hence pattern hair loss is also called androgenic alopecia. Other factors such as increasing age and genetic (inherited tendency) may also have a role.
As well we know that testosterone is one of strong androgens in men. It’s responsible for the development of male characteristics such as male reproductive & sexual function, male voice deepening, and growth of body & facial hair .
In the body, an enzyme called 5-AR (stands for 5-alpha-reductase) changes testosterone into another androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is responsible for several body functions. But it could also be counterproductive for the health of hair follicles as men age.
With age, hair follicles are more sensitive to the action of DHT. It’s thought that DHT is the main reason behind most cases of male pattern hair loss. It attaches to androgen receptors on the scalp’s hair follicles and triggers follicular miniaturization (a process that drives hair follicle to shrink, change, and produce a thinner-shorted hair shaft).
According to one study in 1998, the amount of androgen receptors found in pulled scalp’s skin and follicles on balding area are higher than those pulled from non-balding area. An inherited tendency may also play a role to make hair loss more likely, the study showed .
Interestingly, androgens are required to stimulate hair growth on other areas of the body. Beard hair, armpit hair, and pubic hair — for examples, would not grow without androgens. It seems men with low 5-AR are likely to get very little hair elsewhere of the body, but they probably are at lower risk of developing male pattern hair loss.
How about female pattern hair loss? Testosterone found in women is not in the same abundance as men. But women also need it for several body functions. Small amount of this hormone is produced in their adrenal glands and ovaries. While DHT is often to blame for receding hairline associated with male pattern hair loss, it’s not fully known yet whether it also has same effect on female pattern hair loss.
Receded hairline can grow back, but …
With pattern hair loss, your hair follicle would shrink over time. But with appropriate treatment, it’s possible to have hair growth on the affected area and prevent the problem from worsening.
Thankfully hair follicles affected by pattern hair loss usually remain alive. This means it’s still possible to stimulate hair growth on there .
On the other hand, the problem can get worse or even progresses to baldness if left untreated, especially in men. But treatment is not always necessary, depending on personal preference. It’s Ok to left it untreated if you are enjoyable with your new appearance. It doesn’t pose to the risk of serious complications; again it’s not more than cosmetic issue.
Women with pattern hair loss rarely have receded front hairline since they’re less likely to go bald following pattern hair loss in men (find out more here). They’re likely to have thinning over the entire crown of their scalp. Unlike men, it could be more frustrating in women since hair loss is less acceptable for them. Therefore treatment is usually necessary.
Treatments for this kind of hair loss include minoxidil, propecia, and hair transplantation. Which is the best one? Each treatment has pros and cons.
Also called ‘Rogaine’ the generic version, Minoxidil was originally developed for treating hypertension (high blood pressure). Since it triggered hair growth when people took it (an intriguing side effect), it is used for treating hair loss. It’s the first hair growth solution approved by the FDA.
Does it work for receding hairline? In case when the problem has to do with the action of DHT, it is less effective since it doesn’t target DHT. However some people find it’s worth a try. Some doctors would suggest it first before trying another treatment. If there is no improvement, it probably is still prescribed along with Propecia.
The story is slightly different for female pattern hair loss. Many women find their hair loss improves with this topical treatment since their pattern hair loss is less likely associated with androgens. But if it fails to work, a hormonal treatment may be suggested.
It is available in two choices of concentration, 2 % (women) and 5 % (men). It’s relatively safe for most men and women.
Also called Finasteride, it is another common solution for receding hairline. It was originally used to treat prostate gland problems. But researchers found that it also has an effect to promote hair growth.
1 mg dose of Finasteride has been approved by the FDA in 1997 for treating hair loss, including androgenic alopecia. It is more powerful than Minoxidil (if your receding hairline has to do with DHT) since it inhibits the production of 5-AR enzyme so does DHT production.
Unlike Minoxidil – Propecia is taken as a tablet, which is the first FDA-approved ‘pill’ for treating male pattern hair loss. But it’s not recommended for female pattern hair loss. In general, people take it every day for 3 months or more (if necessary). And to sustain benefit, continued use is required and should be re-evaluated periodically.
A test-tube (in-vitro) study suggests the potential benefit from caffeine to provide extra protection from counterproductive effect of DHT . For this reason, Alpecin caffeine shampoo could be another alternative solution. But this finding is not final yet, more studies are required.
If you do concern to get rid of your receding hairline without frequently taking pills (Finasteride) or applying topical foam /lotion (Rogaine), hair transplantation probably is your best bet. Although it is more costly, it would provide permanent results.
Receded front hairline prognosis, baldness or …?
Since receded hairline is often associated with male pattern hair loss, it tends to get worse if left untreated. Over time, it may progress to partial or complete baldness.
In male pattern hair loss, also called male pattern baldness, front hairline recedes in an “M” form. This may be followed with thinning hair on the crown. With age, both receding hairline and thinning crown get worse. Eventually this may create horseshoe shape of baldness.
The good news, it doesn’t always end up with baldness. With appropriate treatment, hair loss is treatable and prevented from getting worse.
With treatment, receded hairline is less likely to become permanent, though the prognosis can also vary from person to person. For more guidance, see a dermatologist! Just make sure to use FDA-approved hair loss treatment so you would not waste your time and money.