Male pattern baldness, medically known as androgenetic alopecia, is a common condition that affects a high number of men worldwide. This condition leads to hair loss, having a considerable impact on men’s self-esteem and confidence.
So, if you have been looking into understanding hair loss, you have probably come across the Norwood Scale, or the Norwood Hamilton Scale.
This widely used classification system helps professionals measure and determine the severity of male pattern baldness. This is also a scale you will come across if you are trying to plan the best treatment for your hair loss.
What Norwood Scale Am I?
Are you familiar with the Norwood Scale but you are unsure what the different hair loss stages are?
This guide will help you grasp a deeper understanding of the Norwood scale, and appreciate how it can be part of an effective plan to address male pattern baldness.
What is the Norwood Scale and Who Invented it?
The Norwood Scale was developed by Dr. O’Tar Norwood and Dr. James Hamilton in the 1950s and acts as a visual classification system to categorise the different stages of male pattern baldness.
Dr. Norwood expanded on Dr. Hamilton’s initial research, which is why you may find the scale often referred to as the Norwood Hamilton Scale.
It is a very comprehensive scale, and is now a recognised standard tool for the assessment and evaluation of male hair loss patterns.
Exploring the Norwood Hamilton Scale
The Norwood scale counts no less than 7 different stages of hair loss.
If you have been diagnosed with one of those stages, you may be curious as to what it means.
We explain more in detail below.
What is the Norwood Scale 1?
On the Norwood Scale, level 1 is the normal baseline for hair management. This stage represents normal hair growth.
If you classify as Norwood 1, or Norwood Hamilton 1, this essentially means that you have a full head of hair with no visible signs of hair loss or receding hairline.
Stage 1 has no noticeable indication of male pattern baldness. To put it simply, this is healthy growth, and it is typically the level everybody wants to go back to after receiving hair loss treatment.
What is the Norwood Scale 2?
There may be no clear differences between Norwood Scales 1 and 2, in men who enter scale 2 begin to experience a slightly receding hairline around the temples.
You may also see it referred to as a “mature hairline”. This is an early sign of male pattern baldness and a common occurrence among middle-aged and senior men. It may not necessarily lead to severe baldness. Additionally, hair loss is often not noticeable to others except for the patient himself.
That being said, if you notice that your hairline is receding, the quicker you act, the quicker you can come to a diagnosis and a solution.
What is the Norwood Scale 3?
The third stage is a continuation of Norwood Scale 2. Scale 3 marks the onset of visible hair loss.
This is typically the stage where the hairline has receded further on the temple, creating a more noticeable M-shape pattern. This occurs primarily around the frontal temporal regions where hair thinning is happening.
As a result, the M-shape marks a more pronounced appearance of male pattern baldness.
What is the Norwood Scale 3 Vertex?
In some cases, men can also experience hair loss in the vertex area. This is the crown of the head.
This comes in addition to the receding hairline in the frontal temporal regions. Typically, doctors and experts refer to this stage as a sub-category of Norwood Scale 3. But they may also talk about the Norwood Vertex or Norwood Scale 3 Vertex.
Even if it is only light, hair loss in the crown area will significantly contribute to the overall appearance of baldness.
What is the Norwood Scale 4?
With each scale stage marking a progression in the male pattern baldness, Norwood Scale 4 is a more significant and more apparent baldness, following the same patterns as those identified in the previous stage.
Hair loss continues in the frontal and temporal regions. At this point, the crown may also become affected and experience further hair thinning if it wasn’t already.
The bridge of hair between the front and vertex areas becomes noticeably narrower and the scalp can be more visible in places.
What is the Norwood Scale 5?
Norwood Scale 5 indicates further hair loss progression. Here, the bridge of hair between the frontal temples and the crown is even thinner and narrower. Bald areas are more pronounced.
While strategic hairstyles change may be able to conceal the previous stages, it is more challenging at this stage to hide hair loss and balding areas.
What is the Norwood Scale 6?
In Norwood Scale 6, the bridge of hair between the frontal and vertex regions is almost completely gone.
There are large visible bald patches on the front and top of the head where the bridge is missing.
Additionally, hair loss becomes more extensive. As a result, the remaining hair tends to become sparse and extremely fine.
What is the Norwood Scale 7?
Norwood Scale 7 is the most severe stage of male pattern baldness.
Men at scale 7 may only have a band of hair that remains on the sides and back of the head, creating a characteristic horseshoe-shaped pattern.
The top of the head appears almost entirely bald, even though there may still be thin hair.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness and How can Scalp Micropigmentation Help Treat it?
While there may be different underlying factors behind male pattern baldness, this hair loss condition is typically linked to genetic and hormonal factors.
This is associated with testosterone: Hair follicles show an increased sensitivity to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is a hormone derived from testosterone. Over time, DHT can damage and shrink hair follicles, leading to progressively shorter and finer hair until the follicles cannot produce visible hair any longer.
Scalp micropigmentation has gained popularity as an effective and non-invasive hair loss treatment. This approach is a cosmetic tattooing technique, involving the application of tiny pigment dots that replicate the appearance of shaven hair follicles on the scalp. Scalp micropigmentation creates the realistic illusion of a natural hairline in areas affected by hair loss.
It goes without saying, the process is carefully tailored to individual needs and desired outcome. Depending on the baldness progression, the procedure can be conducted over a number of sessions for precise and optimal results. This can also be more cost-effective than a hair transplant, which is not always successful.
For men looking for a long-lasting solution without the need for daily maintenance scalp micropigmentation is a convenient custom option suitable for those with busy lifestyles.