Hair loss is a common condition in men, often caused by genetics and known as Androgenetic Alopecia or Male Pattern Baldness. Over half of men will develop it at some time in their lives. In order to treat the problem, it’s important to understand how advanced the hair loss is.
There are differing levels of severity of Male Pattern Baldness. In order to aid with diagnosis, The Norwood Scale was introduced. Here, you’ll discover more about the Norwood Scale and how it is used to determine the severity of hair loss in men.
What is the Norwood Scale?
The Norwood Scale is used to measure the different stages of male pattern baldness. It was actually introduced back in the 1950s, but it was significantly improved in the 1970s. It covers seven different stages of baldness, allowing doctors and specialists to assess the severity of the condition. More about each stage can be found below.
Stage 1 – The first stage is known as the control stage. Patients still have a full head of hair with very little signs of a receding hairline or hair thinning.
Stage 2 – In stage two, the hair will be slightly receding, usually around the temple area.
Stage 3 – Hair loss starts to become more noticeable by stage three. It will be more noticeable at the side of the head and the hairline could represent an M, V or U shape. If there is also hair loss on the top of the head at this stage, it is often referred to as stage three vertex.
Stage 4 – At this stage, the hair loss will be significant. When seen from above, the hairline may resemble more of a U shape due to further receding of the hairline. The bald spot on the top of the head, if there is one, will also appear larger.
Stage 5 – In stage five, the hair loss pattern will be similar to that in stage four, only more severe. There is a strip of hair between the bald spot on the crown of the head and the hairline. However, the hair will be noticeably thinner.
Stage 6 – Patients in stage six will mostly be bald on both the top and front of the head. There isn’t any strip of hair between the bald spot and the receding hairline. Hair may still be present on the sides of the head.
Stage 7 – In the final stage, the hair loss will start to impact the side of the head. The hair will also be very thin and new hair grows back thinner and weaker.
How is Female Pattern Baldness assessed?
Women can also be affected by Androgenetic Alopecia, although women typically experience a different pattern of hair loss and the Ludwig Scale was devised to classify female hair loss.
The Ludwig Scale uses three different ‘types’ to diagnose the severity of hair loss:
Type I – in this stage the hair loss is considered mild and the frontal hairline typically isn’t affected so it can often be difficult to notice that hair loss is happening. Thinning usually occurs on the top and front of the head.
Type II – this stage is more moderate hair loss and women can become aware of more shedding and thinning of the hair with an overall decrease in volume. The central parting may begin to widen.
Type III – this is the most extreme stage of female hair loss and the thinning across the scalp has become so pronounced that the scalp is highly visible.
These guides can be used to assess the degree of hair which has already been lost, the potential for further hair loss in the future and the best course of treatment to be advised.