Receding hairlines are usually hereditary or age-related and then predominantly occur in men. There are various intervention measures.
What are receding hairlines?
The term receding hairline is colloquially used, among other things, for so-called androgenetic hair loss (a hereditary hair loss) on the temples of men.
Such receding hairlines are often the first symptoms of later age-related hair loss. But other causes can also be responsible for receding hairlines – both in men and women.
The designation receding hairline goes back to the title of the Privy Council, which during the German monarchies was awarded to officials who had special merits and who were mostly of a higher age. Alternative slang terms for hereditary receding hairlines are, for example, the words ministerial angle or marriage angle.
Contrary to these terms, however, even young men can be affected by androgenetic receding hairlines. How strongly receding hairlines are developed in those affected varies from person to person. The transition from a receding hairline to possible baldness in the case of age-related hair loss is also fluid.
The most common cause of receding hairlines is androgenetic hair loss in men. This form of hair loss, which often causes a receding hairline, is caused by an over-sensitivity of the hair follicles of those affected to certain forms of testosterone (male hormones); hair growth is inhibited by the influence of these hormones. Androgenetic hair loss as the cause of receding hairlines is usually congenital.
More rarely, receding hairlines can be caused by so-called triangular hair loss. Both men and women can be affected by this form of the receding hairline. Triangular hair loss is innate and usually leads to a receding hairline in childhood.
Last but not least, receding hairlines can also be due to other diseases; for example, the so-called circular hair loss, an immunological disease.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
A receding hairline is relatively easy to spot. The main symptom is bald spots on the edge of the forehead. These are caused by hair loss, which begins in the area of the temples and from there spreads further and further back over the entire head. The receding hairline lies exactly at the intersection of the horizontal hairline above the forehead and the vertical hairline at the temples.
This creates a characteristic triangular hairline in the middle of the forehead with an advanced course. The hair follicles have most of the DHT receptors (dihydrotestosterone receptors) on the temples. Testosterone converted into DHT is responsible for hair loss. For this reason, hair loss does not occur or occurs very late in areas such as the neck or the back of the head, where there are only a few DHT receptors.
A symptom of the onset of a receding hairline can be the increased production of sebum in the affected areas. The hairless scalp can also appear oily at times. In addition, there may be visible flaking. These symptoms are usually associated with severe itching. Since receding hairlines are hereditary, their course and symptoms are similar to those of father, grandfather or other relatives.
Diagnosis & course
The presence of a receding hairline can be diagnosed on the basis of a typical triangular hairline in an affected person. In order to determine the causes that are hidden behind a receding hairline in each individual case, blood tests can take place or individual hairs can be removed.
Indications of hereditary androgenetic hair loss as the reason for receding hairlines can also be given in advance by patient reports on receding hairlines that occur more often in the family. The course of receding hairlines depends, among other things, on their cause: androgenetically caused receding hairlines usually increase with age, then spread to the back of the head and can eventually become bald.
Receding hairlines due to triangular hair loss often remain constant over the course of life. A receding hairline with circular hair loss can often go away after a while.
A receding hairline is not a disease, just an appearance. In many cases such hair loss is hereditary. Only a few complications are known, unless the affected people resort to unusual measures. If receding hairlines remain without medical treatment, only a psychological complication is possible.
Affected men very often suffer from depression, as receding hairlines are the first sign of the beginning aging process. However, potential complications can also arise with the use of various hair restoring products. It is not uncommon for men to resort to such means that are supposed to restore thick hair to bald areas.
Often, however, such agents are strong and aggressive compositions that are extremely stressful to the scalp. There is redness and severe itching. If these symptoms are present, an appropriate doctor should be consulted very quickly. Rapid recovery and healing can only occur through treatment with the right medication.
The following applies: receding hairlines usually do not cause any worrying complications. However, if the person concerned uses various measures, complications can also arise at the same time. A visit to the doctor should not be postponed when the first symptoms occur.
When should you go to the doctor?
From a medical point of view, a receding hairline is not a disease that requires treatment. The lack of hair growth is only a visual flaw that has no impact on physical health. Most of those affected know how to help themselves by wearing accessories such as hats, caps or headbands. In many cases, the receding hairline can be concealed by changing the hairstyle.
A doctor’s visit is necessary as soon as mental problems arise and psychological suffering arises. If the visual appearance leads to conspicuous behavior or personality disorders, there is cause for concern. A doctor is needed in the event of social withdrawal, melancholy features or a depressive phase. If a social phobia develops, a doctor’s visit is required.
The person concerned isolates himself, reacts unusually harshly or shows aggressive behavior as soon as another person approaches, he needs help. If the daily obligations can no longer be fulfilled, if self-confidence is permanently reduced or if a feeling of foreignness develops in one’s own body, a doctor should be consulted. The receding hairline can be corrected by a cosmetic surgeon at any time for aesthetic reasons.
Treatment & Therapy
Possible treatment approaches for receding hairlines differ (as well as the courses of receding hairlines) depending on the cause of the hair loss.
Depending on the treatment options, a distinction can be made between causal and symptomatic treatments of receding hairlines: A causal treatment option for receding hairlines caused by androgenetic hair loss is, for example, the administration of medication; Appropriate drugs can inhibit the formation of hormones that attack the hair follicles and are therefore responsible for receding hairlines.
If receding hairlines are caused by circular hair loss, it is possible, among other things, to counteract the loss of hair on the temples by administering cortisone-containing preparations (the same applies to receding hairlines caused by inflammatory processes on the scalp). Various holistic approaches, such as homeopathy, also offer treatment options for receding hairlines.
Symptomatic (without combating the causes) existing receding hairlines can be countered, among other things, by using hair substitutes made from real or synthetic hair. In various cases (such as androgenetic hair loss), receding hairlines can be combated by transplanting your own hair from the back of the head (which are usually insensitive to damaging hormones).
Outlook & forecast
A receding hairline often lasts for a lifetime and eventually develops into a very pronounced bald head. Treatment with hair restorers is possible, but such preparations can cause side effects and do not always achieve the desired effect. The light areas can be effectively covered with a hairpiece. If the receding hairline is hereditary, it can usually not be counteracted by chemical means. However, accompanying symptoms or subsequent complaints are not to be expected.
Affected men often develop depression or inferiority complexes as a result of receding hairlines, which indicate the beginning of the aging process. Nevertheless, the outlook and prognosis are relatively good. A healthy lifestyle and the use of the preparations and means mentioned can slow the spread of androgenetic hair loss and, in the best case, promote hair growth. If the receding hairline is caused by circular hair loss, the hair will grow again as soon as the cause of the hair loss has been eliminated.
Therapeutic measures are a good support for affected men who suffer from the sparse spots. If the receding hairline occurs due to age, it usually does not cause any psychological problems. Instead, hair loss is seen as part of the natural aging process and is quickly accepted by those affected.
Depending on the cause of a receding hairline, the occurrence of a receding hairline can be prevented to a different extent: If a receding hairline is caused by an illness that is medically treatable, an early visit to the doctor and treatment that starts early can prevent receding hairlines. Hereditary and / or age-related receding hairlines can usually not be prevented; lamination is possible here if necessary.
With a receding hairline, aftercare is usually not possible or necessary. In some cases, the patient can have this treated, but causal therapy cannot be carried out. In most cases, those affected are dependent on living with this complaint their entire life.
Self-healing cannot occur. In many cases it can be very useful to get in touch with other people affected by these complaints. It is not uncommon for information to be exchanged that can be helpful in treating or alleviating the receding hairline. However, medical methods are also possible to treat the receding hairline.
Regular use is necessary, however, as the discomfort cannot be completely alleviated. Even with a transplant, only temporary treatment can be given. Furthermore, a receding hairline often requires psychological treatment, as many of those affected also suffer from depression or other psychological disorders.
Above all, the support of one’s own family or that of friends has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. The patient’s life expectancy is not reduced by the receding hairline.
You can do that yourself
A receding hairline is a natural phenomenon that does not necessarily need to be treated by a doctor. Those who find hair loss bothersome can resort to some self-help measures and home remedies.
Slight receding hairlines can often be concealed with the right hairstyle. Occasionally, changing your lifestyle also helps. It is advisable to pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet and to avoid psychological stress. With regard to nutrition, the following applies: consume a lot of iron-rich foods and avoid foods that are rich in fat.
Tried and tested foods include green leafy vegetables, fruit, fish oil, and sunflower and olive oil. You should also drink a lot – at least eight glasses of water a day are ideal. Otherwise, various measures that naturally increase testosterone levels will help: exercise, natural food supplements or abstinence.
The family doctor or a dermatologist can answer the detailed measures that make sense. Hormonal treatment is recommended for women affected. In addition, exercise, stress reduction and the renouncement of stimulants such as alcohol or nicotine help. In the long term, however, this does not completely stop hair loss. The only thing that can help against the receding hairline is a hair transplant or hair thickening.