Norwood Scale – A Complete Overview
Norwood Scale, also known as the Norwood-Hamilton, is a scientific way to measure baldness or alopecia in forms of male pattern hair loss, receding hair in temporal area, etc. It is the first step you need to know before going to hair loss or regrowth treatment.
For some, hair is one of the most vital and important aspects of their bodies. Men and women alike will spend hours at a time, in front of a mirror trying to get it just right. Then you have others who really don’t care that much as long as it has a respectable look to it.
In both cases, all subjects run the risk of hair loss and a receding hairline. To some, this can cause quite a bit of panic, strife, and stress. Although, in the big picture, hair loss is benign compared to other things that can go wrong with the body. But it still causes a sufferer to take action.
If you currently fall into this category or at least want to know what to expect on this subject, move forward for some valuable details that can maybe drop the threat level down a notch or two in your life.
Understanding Different Types of Hairlines
Stop everything you’re doing and go find the closest mirror to you. Now, look closely at the area on top of your forehead where your hair stops. Evidenced by the name, this is called your hairline.
Shock mode often sets in when people look in the mirror and realize there is a change in this feature. It becomes distorted so to speak, or just simple changes in appearance. As you age, this is completely normal and natural. Regardless, if you are a man or woman.
Much like there are no two bodies completely identical, there are also no two hairlines that are identical. And, when hair loss starts to occur, and hairlines change shape, the severity can be determined by using a reference. It’s called the Norwood scale.
What is the Norwood Scale?
There is a pretty good chance you’ve stepped on a scale before to determine your weight. You might not have liked what it said, but it at least gave you an assessment of where you currently are.
Think of the Norwood Scale the say way. It doesn’t give you an assessment of how much you weigh, but it does give you an idea of the severity of your hair loss. It is set up in stages. The lower the number, the less severe the receding hairline and hair loss in general.
Here are the various levels and what each one represents. And when using this scale, it’s best to be as honest with yourself as possible so you can approach treatment options the best way.
This is the least severe of all the stages. If you are here, you should not notice any recession or thinning, and your hairline will be in a uniform line. It can be curved, which it usually is, but there will be no major signs of loss.
Recession has started, predominately in the temporal region. You will often hear this referred to as a mature hairline, but there still is no drastic loss.
This is the stage where shapes come into the picture. And this is also where real hair loss is noticeable. The areas at the temples show more significant receding and your hair can take on a V, M or U pattern. Where the recession is occurring, you will have no hair at all or it will be very sparsely populated.
Stage 3 Vertex
This is a bit of an anomaly. In this stage of hair loss, you would have the characteristics of Stage II. However, you will also recognize excessive balding on the top of your head.
In this stage, your hairline recession on the temples will be more pronounced and severe, and you will also experience complete balding or thin, sparse hair on the vertex of your head.
Think of this stage in a similar fashion to Stage 4. Except here is a major difference. The area of remaining hair between the front of the scalp and vertex is narrower.
This is characterized by the recession at the temples coming all the way up to the top of the head. The area between the vertex and front of the scalp is either completely gone or very sparsely populated.
Lastly, this would be the most severe case on the Norwood Scale. It is characterized by having no hair on top and only a slight bit remaining on the sides. This remaining hair is in a U-shape, which resembles a horseshoe.
It’s worth noting that there is one more reference point on the Norwood Scale and it’s called Class A. In this case, there is no major recession or balding on the sides or very top. The hairline just moves back up the scalp uniformly, and it’s not that severe.
The Mature Hairline Explained
You may have remembered from above the mention of a “mature hairline.” Well, here is a little more detail as to what this is all about.
As you reach the age of 17 to 30, your hairline actually tends to change a bit. It basically transforms from a juvenile hairline to an adult hairline. In a very small percentage of people, like 5% or less, there is no change at all. But in most cases, there is.
And this change can take 10 years or so before it finally sets into place. After all, is said and done, the shape of your hairline changes, but this does not necessarily mean you are going to lose mass amounts of hair.
Also, this process happens so gradually that it’s barely even noticeable by the naked eye. Especially because you look at yourself in the mirror every day. You would recognize it most if you had the same haircut over time and looked at old pictures of yourself.
If you are a bit of a stickler and like to get specific, a mature hairline generally recedes back about the width of your index finger from the highest wrinkle on your forehead. And it’s not uncommon for the corners of your hairline to come up 1 to 1 ½” from that same landmark.
What are the Signs of Balding?
The answer to this question may seem obvious, but there is a little more to the story. Various signs can appear that will enable you to determine in short order if you are balding or not. Some of these signs can be more pronounced than others and occur at more rapid speed.
It is best to familiarize yourself with all of these, so you can move forward accordingly.
This is perhaps the most obvious and easy sign of them all when it comes to balding. Take a second when you wake up in the morning and look around your pillow area. If you see hair, then you have a sign that you are balding.
Plus, pay attention to your comb or brush after you comb your hair. If you see strands getting stuck in it, then the writing is on the wall. And over time, the hair can accumulate even more. In some cases, it will fall out slowly and as time goes on, it can be accelerated.
Lastly, look for hair in the drain of your sink and shower, and also on your car seat. Shedding has no rhyme or reason and can take place any time of day and in any location.
Hard to Style Hairs
When you are in your younger years, you wouldn’t think twice about growing your hair long, styling it to the side, slicking it back or adding some form or gel or goo before you head out to a rock show.
But, as you get older, and especially as you try to pull off various hairstyles, you may not have this luxury anymore. A receding hairline and balding vertex can make it tough to pull off any form of hairstyle close to these.
This is another sign that balding is going on. And, you might also notice that your hair’s growth pattern has become misshapen, which compounds the problem.
Small, Short Light Hairs
Thinning hair is still hair loss, and falls in stage 1 of the Norwood scale. The thinness is actually the cover of the hair. When strands fall out, the neighboring strands tend to get lighter in color and weaker. If you get up close to a mirror with good lighting, you can really notice this.
Plus, they tend to get finer and are a lot shorter. Ultimately, they go through this cycle and then disappear completely. You can also do a test by running your fingers through your hair. If it is starting to feel softer and finer, that’s a good sign that it’s thinning and falling out.
Lastly, you have the rugged look. This is a little bit of a combination of some of the above signs, but a little different. The ragged look generally occurs when hair is lost in clumps and is spotty.
There really is not a uniform appearance as there would be with a concrete receding hairline or loss at the vertex. It would be more of a hit or miss type look and the remaining hairs can look straggly.
What to Do About Hair Loss
After the Norwood scale helps to measure the extent of the problem, its time for treating it. There is no shortage of treatment options in the marketplace these days when it comes to hair loss. Perhaps the most popular is a topical solution known as minoxidil. Although it has shown signs of slowing down hair loss, be aware that it can take several months for it to even start working.
Plus, you are faced with this sad reality. If it does in fact work, you have to continue using it for life! Yes, that means, once you go off of it, your hair loss will start back up again. This could end up being expensive over the long haul.
Also, you have a pharmaceutical-grade drug called finasteride, which has been used to prevent hair loss on the vertex and even grow it back. But much like minoxidil, it takes a while to start working AND once you stop taking it, your results will disappear.
Not to mention, both of these treatment options can come with side effects. It’s at this point that you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth the trouble.
Natural Remedies for Receding Hairline
Just as there is a pharmaceutical direction to go, you can also look to mother nature for hair loss. First of all, did you know that your diet can have a lot to do with hair loss? Well, it can!
When your body is very acidic, you set the stage perfectly for hair loss. Even if you are genetically predisposed, you can still slow down the process and at least promote a healthy scalp by doing the right things with your diet. And that would be to create a more alkaline environment in your system.
The easiest way to do this is by first cutting out all the foods and beverages that cause acidity in the body like processed baked goods, deep-fried foods, alcohol, candy, and any white-flour products.
Then, integrate as many alkaline foods in your diet as possible like cucumbers, celery, greens, lemons, limes, broccoli, and coconut.
One last diet-related thing you can do is pay attention to anything you consume that might be causing an allergic reaction. Eliminating some of these foods can go a long way in skin and scalp health, and anything is worth a try when it comes to your hair.
Finding Your Groove
At the end of the day, remember this all-important, take-home fact. Hair loss is not a critical condition and it’s not the end of the world. There are so many advancements in natural treatments and remedies these days, that you can definitely do something about it.
And, you can go on living a happy, healthy, normal life too. When it’s all said and done, try to embrace it and do the best you can with what you have to work with. Even if that means changing your hairstyle to make it more favorable.