There are two common changes to the frontal hairline that young men can observe. One is known as hairline maturation and the second is male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia). Both are a cause of worry to patients and both are commonly misdiagnosed.
Hairline maturation is a normal process that occurs between age 15-27 whereby a small amount of hair recession occurs in the very frontal hairline and a slight amount of recession of the temple is observed. This is generally 1 cm above the highest forehead wrinkle in the centre and 1.5 inches in the temples. In male balding recession occurs to greater degrees.
Treatment of hairline maturation and male balding
The distinction between the two conditions (hairline maturation vs balding) is important as there are no medical treatments for hairline maturation. Male balding can be addressed with treatments such as finasteride or minoxidil as well as others too.
Finasteride (Propecia and generics) and minoxidil (Rogaine and generics) are FDA approved for male pattern balding. These treatments do not have any effect on normal male hairline maturation. One may want to check with a physician of concerns exist about signs of early male balding. The best thing that can be done in early stages of hair loss is frequent scalp photography every 4-6 months. This is extremely helpful to track changes in the hairline and get a sense of the degree of hairline maturation and balding a person might have.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887