Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/22/2021
If you’re in your mid to late teens, you may have noticed that your hair is starting to thin at your hairline and temples.
Although male pattern baldness is most common in men in their 30s, 40s and older, it’s possible to develop the early signs of hair loss while you’re a teenager.
Dealing with hair loss can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, hair loss is treatable. By using the right combination of medications and hair care products, you can slow down or prevent hair loss and maintain your hair well into your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
In fact, by catching the signs of hair loss early in your life, you’re in a strong position to stop any further hair loss before it can happen.
Below, we’ve explained how and why hair loss happens, as well as the potential signs of balding you may notice if you’re starting to lose your hair in your teens.
We’ve also talked about the proven, science-backed treatments that are available to slow down and stop hair loss, from over-the-counter products such as minoxidil to prescription medications like finasteride.
If you’re in your teens, you may notice your hairline receding or some degree of thinning on your scalp. These are often early signs of male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones. Since your production of certain hormones ramps up quickly in adolescence, you may start to notice hair loss as you enter your mid to late teens.
Several proven, science-based treatments are available to stop male pattern baldness, including FDA-approved medications such as finasteride and minoxidil. These may be worth considering if you’re above the age of eighteen.
These treatments are generally most effective when started as soon as you notice hair loss, making it important to take action if you’re beginning to lose your hair.
Not all teen hair loss is caused by male pattern baldness. Other factors that may cause hair loss include stress, nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions and/or use of certain medications.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, it’s best to talk to a licensed healthcare provider about your options.
Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons, from stress to nutritional deficiencies, medications, illnesses and more.
However, the majority of hair loss in men is the result of androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.
Although most people associate male pattern baldness with men in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the reality is that hair loss can start at any age, including in your mid to late teens.
In fact, research shows that around 16 percent of males aged between 15 and 17 are affected by some degree of male pattern baldness.
When male pattern baldness starts during your teens, it’s sometimes referred to as adolescent androgenetic alopecia.
In short, if you’re in your mid to late teens and have started to notice that your hair is thinning or receding, you’re not alone.
Contrary to popular belief, hair loss doesn’t happen because of wearing a hat, using lots of hair products or other common but inaccurate theories. We’ve talked about these more in our guide to popular hair loss myths.
Male pattern baldness occurs due to a combination of your genetics and your body’s production of certain male sex hormones.
More specifically, hair loss occurs when a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, binds to receptors in your hair follicles and causes damage to your hair.
DHT is an androgen hormone, or male hormone. As a man, your body uses androgens in order to develop your male sex characteristics, such as broad shoulders, a deep voice, body hair and a certain amount of your muscle mass and strength.
Arguably the most well-known androgen hormone is testosterone. As a man, testosterone plays a major role in almost all of the factors that make you masculine.
During your teens, your body’s production of testosterone increases rapidly. Your testosterone levels stay high for several decades before they slowly start to decrease as you reach your 30s and forties.
A small percentage of the testosterone that’s produced by your body is converted into DHT by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase.
During your teens, DHT is responsible for things like producing your facial hair, pubic hair and body hair.
However, while DHT can promote the growth of hair on your body, it can also bind to receptors in the hair follicles on your scalp and cause hair loss.
Since your levels of testosterone and DHT increase during your teens, you may notice the first signs of DHT-related hair damage as a teenager in the form of thinning, shedding or a receding hairline.
Over time, as your hair follicles are exposed to DHT for longer, these early signs can develop into more noticeable hair loss.
We’ve talked about the effects of DHT on your hair in more detail in our full guide to DHT and male hair loss.
Although most hair loss is caused by male pattern baldness, several other factors may cause you to shed hair during your teens:
Nutritional deficiencies. Several nutritional deficiencies, including iron deficiency and others, can cause shedding and temporary hair loss. Some vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin D, are also important for healthy hair growth.
Stress, anxiety and other psychological factors. Stress, traumatic experiences and other events can cause a form of temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium — a topic we’ve talked about more in our guide to stress-related hair loss.
Medical conditions and infections. Some medical conditions, such as thyroid disease and hormonal health issues, may cause hair loss. Infections that affect your scalp may also cause you to lose hair on certain parts of your head.
Damage to your hair. Some types of damage, such as tension from certain hairstyles, scarring or follicular damage from autoimmune diseases, can affect your hair and result in temporary or permanent hair loss.
Medications. Some medications, including acne medications, ADHD medications and some medications used to treat psychological disorders, may cause hair loss as a side effect.
Our guide to the causes of hair loss explains more about the numerous factors that may lead to hair loss during your teens, 20s and later in life.
It’s very uncommon to go completely bald as a teenager. However, you may start to notice some of the early signs of male pattern baldness during your teens. These include:
Changes in your hairline. You may notice some hair thinning or hair loss around your temples, or along the hairline between your scalp and face. Your hairline may begin to develop an M or V-like shape as hair thins around your temples.
Thinning and/or hair loss on your scalp. You may notice that the hair on top of your head looks thinner than it did before. This may affect your entire scalp or the area near the crown of your head.
Hair loss after showering or brushing. You may find more hairs than normal on your hairbrush, comb or around the drain in your shower.
It’s normal to lose about 100 hairs every day as part of your hair’s growth cycle. If you notice an abnormal amount of shedding, it could be an early sign that you’re starting to lose your hair.
Hair loss is surprisingly common during your teens and early twenties. In fact, many men begin to notice the first signs of hair loss during their last few years of high school or their first years at college.
As we mentioned earlier, about 16 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 17 experience some degree of hair loss.
In general, hair loss becomes more common the older you get. According to the American Hair Loss Association, around two thirds of men experience hair loss by age 35. By age 50, about 85 percent of all men show significant hair thinning.
Hair loss can be a stressful event, especially when it occurs relatively early in your life. It’s quite common and normal to feel stressed and alarmed when you first notice that your hair is thinning or that your hairline is receding.
Luckily, male pattern baldness is treatable. Although dealing with hair loss early might feel like a curse, the reality is that by acting quickly you can protect your hairline and maintain your hair as you get older.
Remember, the earlier you start treating hair loss, the more of your hair you’ll generally be able to protect and maintain.
Right now, the most effective treatments for hair loss are medications. These work by blocking the production of DHT (the hormone that causes male pattern baldness) or by stimulating hair growth directly.
Not all hair loss medications are suitable for teens. It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider before using any medications, including over-the-counter products, to treat hair loss.
Finasteride is a prescription medication for treating male pattern baldness. It works by inhibiting the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT.
By preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT, finasteride lowers DHT levels in your body and stops much of the DHT-related hair follicle damage that causes hair loss.
Research shows that a typical dosage of finasteride can reduce serum DHT levels by more than 70 percent.
For hair loss, finasteride is available as a 1mg tablet. Several studies have found that it can slow down and stop hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. Some studies have even found that it can stimulate the growth of new hair in areas of the scalp affected by hair loss.
In a series of two clinical trials, researchers found that daily use of finasteride by men with male pattern baldness resulted in slower hair loss, increased hair growth and an improvement in hair appearance over the course of two years.
A separate study found that daily use of finasteride stopped hair loss in 99.1 percent of men and improved hair growth in 91.5 percent of men over the course of 10 years.
In short, not only does finasteride work well in the short term, but it’s also effective at preventing hair loss over the long term.
Like other medications, finasteride can cause some side effects. However, research shows that these typically only affect a small percentage of people who use this medication.
We offer finasteride online for men aged 18 and older, following a consultation with a physician who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Minoxidil is a topical medication for treating hair loss. It comes as a liquid or foam and is applied directly to areas of your scalp affected by male pattern baldness.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t reduce DHT levels. Instead, it increases the flow of blood to your scalp and stimulates your hair follicles to start and stay in the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
Several studies have shown that minoxidil helps to improve hair growth. In one 12-month study involving more than 900 men with hair loss, 84.3 percent reported that minoxidil was either very effective, effective or moderately effective at stimulating hair regrowth.
A 2015 scientific review of minoxidil also confirmed that it’s effective at promoting hair growth in men with male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil is available without a prescription, making it a good option if you’d like to treat hair loss without prescription medication. We offer minoxidil online, either on its own or with finasteride in our Hair Power Pack.
Some hair care products, such as hair loss prevention shampoo, may help to stimulate growth and protect your hair from DHT. Hair loss supplements such as biotin may also help to improve hair growth and treat certain forms of hair loss.
Using a hair loss prevention shampoo is a simple, inexpensive way to provide your hair with an extra layer of protection against DHT-related damage.
Unlike with medication, it’s okay to use a hair loss prevention shampoo at any age, making this a good option if you’re below the age of 18 and want to take action to protect your hair.
Look for the following active ingredients when you’re comparing hair loss shampoos:
Ketoconazole. Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that’s commonly used in hair loss shampoos. Some research has found that ketoconazole may help to slow down or stop hair loss by disrupting the effects of DHT.
Our guide to ketoconazole shampoo and hair loss goes into more detail on the scientific research behind ketoconazole as a treatment for male pattern baldness.
Saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is an herbal ingredient that’s been linked to increased hair growth in several studies. It’s one of several ingredients in our Thick Fix Shampoo for reducing buildup and promoting volume and moisture.
Our guide to saw palmetto for hair loss goes into more detail on the research behind saw palmetto as a hair loss treatment.
Biotin is a B-vitamin that plays a role in the hair growth process. Although it doesn’t slow down or stop hair loss that’s caused by male pattern baldness, supplementing with biotin may help if your hair loss is caused by a nutritional deficiency.
We’ve talked more about the effects and potential benefits of biotin in our full guide to biotin for hair loss.
It’s far from uncommon to develop a receding hairline, thinning hair or other early signs of male pattern baldness during your mid to late teens. While noticing that you’re losing your hair can be distressing, the reality is that options are available to slow down, stop and reverse hair loss.
The earlier you notice that you’re losing hair, the sooner you can take action to protect your hair and prevent your hair loss from getting worse.
If you think you’re starting to lose your hair, the best approach is to talk to a licensed healthcare provider about your options.
Depending on your age and the severity of your hair loss, you may be able to use medications, hair care products or a combination of both to stop your hair loss and maintain your hair as you enter your 20s, 30s and beyond.
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