7 Ways to Treat a Receding Hairline, According to Dermatologists (2024)

NOTICING THAT YOUR HAIR is looking a little thin on top? Or that your hairline seems to be getting higher and higher? These are signs of a receding hairline.

And, it’s pretty common. By age 35, about two-thirds of men will experience some kind of hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association. By the time you reach 50, about 85 percent of men have thinner hair.

“A receding hairline refers to hair loss or thinning at the top of the forehead and front of the scalp,” explains Jeremy Brauer, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Spectrum Skin and Laser in New York.

He adds that receding hairlines can be caused by genetics, hormones, stress, overall health, and some lifestyle habits.

When your hair starts to recede, your self-esteem may take a hit. Fortunately, there are several treatments that can help minimize hair loss and even help with hair regrowth. Usually, you need to see a dermatologist to get the right treatment.

“If you are experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, a dermatologist will conduct a thorough consultation, including a review of personal and family history, medical, surgical, social, medication, and allergy history,” Dr. Brauer says.

The doctor’s visit will also include a scalp exam and lab work or other tests to determine the health of your hair and a possible cause for your receding hairline. That helps doctors recommend the best treatment.

Here, dermatologists discuss the common signs of a receding hairline, the most common causes, and possible treatments.

Symptoms of a Receding Hairline

Thinning hair and hair loss are the most common ways hairlines recede, says John Kahen, M.D., chief surgeon, hair transplant specialist, and founder of Beverly Hills Hair Restoration. Receding hairlines may look different from person to person, and they can range from mild to severe, where you become bald.

Some symptoms include:

  • Thinning hair around the front of your hairline
  • The hairline getting pushed back
  • Subtle receding around your temples
  • A V-shaped hairline, where the hair at the center at your forehead is more pronounced

Receding Hairline Stages

Receding hairlines often happen in stages, especially if you have male pattern hair baldness, which is common.

“Many people first experience thinning hair at the front of their hairline, starting at the temple, before losing the hair completely,” Dr. Kahen says. “The hair may become patchy or thinner than it was originally.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are several stages of male pattern baldness:

  • Stage 1: Little or no hair loss, or a hairline recedes.
  • Stage 2: Slight hair loss on your temples, between your ears and forehead.
  • Stage 3: Deep hairline recession around your temples. Your hair may form an M or U shape.
  • Stage 4: Deep hairline recession and hair loss at the top of your head, known as the crown.
  • Stage 5: Hairline recession that connects to the bald spot at the top.
  • Stage 6: The hair between your temples and crown thins or is gone.
  • Stage 7: No hair on the top of your hair, with a thin band of hair around the side of your head.

What causes a receding hairline?

Several factors can cause your hairline to recede, including:

Male Pattern Hair Loss

Also referred to as male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia, this is the most common cause of a receding hairline in people born male, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It can be caused by age, genetics, and hormones.

High levels of the sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicles can contribute to thinning hair and eventual hair loss, says Amy Huang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with Medical Offices of Manhattan and contributor to LabFinder.

High DHT levels can also shorten your hair growth cycle, lead to hair shedding and brittle hair, and slow hair growth, Dr. Brauer says.

Smoking

Smokers may be predisposed to a receding hairline because of the oxidative stress smoking has on your hair follicles, Dr. Kahen says. Research suggests that smoking can change the growth cycle of hair follicles, contributing to hair loss. When you quit smoking, you reverse the receding hairline.

Over Styling

Going overboard with hair care might contribute to a receding hairline, Dr. Brauer says. “If you’re harsh with your hair, the physical force may cause it to fall out.”

Heat styling, using too many chemicals, coloring, or aggressive washing or styling may lead to hair loss.

Stress

Emotional stress or the stress related to an injury or surgery may impact your hair and cause hair loss, Dr. Brauer says.

Health Conditions

Some health problems, including hypothyroidism, hormonal disorders, or malnutrition, might cause a receding hairline, Dr. Huang says. Infectious diseases or autoimmune disorders can also be contributors, Dr. Brauer adds.

Diet and Weight

Dr. Brauer says hair loss may result from a poor diet. Vitamin B12, riboflavin, biotin, and folate deficiencies have been linked with hair loss. Research in mice suggested that obesity may induce cellular stress that can trigger hair thinning.

Treatments for a Receding Hairline

Early treatment is crucial for a receding hairline. Dr. Brauer says long-term treatment is usually necessary to prevent additional hair loss. These are the most common treatments:

Minoxidil

Many people start with the over-the-counter treatment Minoxidil to help with their hair loss, Dr. Huang says.

This topical treatment usually works best to treat early-stage hair loss, Dr. Kahen says. “It’s usually effective at preventing hair loss and increasing hair thickness.”

It’s believed that Minoxidil increases blood flow to hair follicles, increasing hair growth, he explains. But, the AAD says it’s unlikely to spur full hair regrowth.

Finasteride

Finasteride has been shown to slow hair loss, and some people see hair regrowth when they start taking it at the first signs of hair loss, according to the AAD.

The results aren’t always permanent, Dr. Kahen says. The medication is meant to be taken long-term—if you stop taking it, your hair loss may recur.

Sometimes, finasteride is prescribed along with minoxidil,

Laser Therapy and Microneedling

Low-level light therapy and microneedling can stimulate hair growth in the areas where it’s thinning, Dr. Kahen says. Lasers can boost cell growth in hair follicles. Microneedling creates tiny injuries to the skin and heightens the skin’s natural healing response, which may help regrow hair.

Platelet-Rich Plasma

This procedure involves drawing blood, placing it in a machine to separate the red blood cells from plasma, and then injecting it into your scalp, according to the AAD. This helps regulate hair growth and thicken hair. It’s not a permanent solution, though.

Corticosteroids

Doctors might prescribe corticosteroids for hair loss caused by autoimmune conditions, says Dr. Brauer. These drugs may reduce inflammation, counteract the effects of the disease, and allow hair to grow.

Hair Transplant

A hair transplant is a permanent treatment for hair loss. Dr. Kahen says it’s the best option when you’re genetically predisposed to hair loss. It can take several months to see results, however.

Hair Supplements

Vitamins and supplements that claim to help with hair loss could help with hair regrowth, but Dr. Brauer says most haven’t been studied. The effectiveness depends on what’s causing the receding hairline, and they may work best when caused by a vitamin deficiency, Dr. Kahen says.

Still, many dermatologists recommend some over-the-counter hair supplements, including Nutrafol, Viviscal, and Isdin, Dr. Huang says.

When to See a Dermatologist About Your Receding Hairline

The earlier, the better, Dr. Kahen says.

“I recommend seeing a dermatologist or trichologist for a receding hairline as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms—if it is something that’s bothering you—so, you can begin preventative measures as soon as possible,” he adds.

7 Ways to Treat a Receding Hairline, According to Dermatologists (2024)
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