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Why is my hairline receding?

Up to 95 percent of permanent hair loss is caused by androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition affecting millions of men, women and children. The condition is characterized by patterns of baldness. Male pattern baldness generally starts when his hairline begins to recede at the front or thin at the crown. The process gradually progresses until, sometimes, only a thin horseshoe-shaped rim of hair remains. Female pattern baldness, has received more attention in recent years, is marked by a general thinning of hair all over the scalp. This usually begins around age 30 and becomes more noticeable after 40 years old, particularly after menopause.

Along with aging and an inherited tendency toward early baldness (a more complex link than researchers previously thought), androgenetic alopecia speeds up because of an over-abundance of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) inside the hair follicle. DHT is a very active form of testosterone, which influences specific aspects of masculine behavior, including aggression and sex drive. Over time, DHT causes hair follicles to degrade. It shortens their anagen, or active, phase.

Technically, follicles are still alive and connected to a good blood supply (which is why they can nurture transplanted follicles that are immune to the effects of DHT), but they will grow smaller and smaller. Some follicles will die. Most, however, will simply shrink and produce weaker hairs. The progressively shorter active growing cycle means more hairs shed and remaining hairs become too thin. They cannot survive daily wear and tear. Hairs in balding areas change over time from long, coarse, thick, colored hairs into fine, colorless, fuzzy hairs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.