Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Male-pattern baldness

2-minute read

Male-pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss that affects all men to some degree as they get older. For a few men, this process starts as early as the late teens. By the age of 60, most men have some degree of hair loss.

Some men aren't troubled by this. Others, however, suffer great emotional distress associated with a lack of self-esteem and, in some cases, depression.

Pattern baldness is usually inherited and can affect men and women. It is caused when hair follicles are oversensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), produced by the male hormone, testosterone. DHT causes the follicles to shrink and eventually stop functioning. Both men and women produce this hormone in different amounts.

The involvement of testosterone in balding has led to the myth that going bald is a sign of virility. But men with male-pattern baldness don't have more male hormones than other men. Their hair follicles are simply more sensitive to the hormones.

Receding hairline

Male-pattern baldness is so called because it tends to follow a set pattern. The first stage is usually a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples.

When these two areas meet in the middle, it leaves a horseshoe shape of hair around the back and sides of the head. Eventually, some men go completely bald.

Can male pattern baldness be treated?

Male-pattern baldness is not a disease, so it won't affect your health. However, if it's causing you distress, consult your doctor to get a diagnosis.

Your doctor can refer you to a dermatologist for further analysis and, if necessary, to a counsellor to help with the trauma of hair loss.

If you have inherited the genes responsible for male-pattern baldness, there's little you can do to prevent it from happening.

Treatments can slow down the process, but there's no cure. The two most effective treatments for male-pattern baldness (also called 'androgenetic alopecia') are medicines called minoxidil and finasteride. Minoxidil also comes as a lotion that can be rubbed into the scalp.

Other treatments for hair loss include wigs, hair transplants and plastic surgery procedures, such as scalp reduction.

As a general rule, it's easier to maintain existing hair than to regrow it, and once the hair follicle has stopped working it cannot be revived.

Last reviewed: October 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Male pattern hair loss or baldness

Male pattern hair loss is inherited and typically startsfrom about age 30. Treatments are available for men who wish to slow down hair loss, stimulate hair regrowth or disguise hair loss.

Read more on myDr website

Male pattern hair loss or baldness - a fact sheetAndrology Australia

Male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia) affects all men to some degree as they grow older.

Read more on Andrology Australia website

Androgenetic alopecia (in men) - ACD

Androgenetic alopecia is the term used to describe a common form of baldness in men that is usually inherited. The condition is slowly progressive and can affect men of any age group after puberty.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Hair loss overview - myDr.com.au

Hair loss (alopecia) iscommon andcan cause significant worry and anxiety. But there are several ways of treating and managing hair loss. Treatment depends on the type of hair loss.

Read more on myDr website

Hormonal treatments - All About Acne

The All About Acne team are a group of health and medical experts who have an interest in the management of acne. They include several dermatologists, a psychiatrist, a pharmacist and a cosmetic medical practitioner. These people donate their time and expertise in order to provide the most up-to-date, practical and relevant information on acne-related matters. All dermatologists on the All About Acne team are Fellows of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

Read more on All About Acne website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo