Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/18/2023
There are places where men typically lose hair.
Between the receding hairline up front and the newly emerging bald spot on the crown of your head, the average guy knows where he should be looking for signs of hair thinning. But what about temple hair loss?
We don’t typically think of male pattern baldness (also known as androgenic alopecia and called female pattern baldness or genetic female hair loss in women) as something that affects the temples.
In fact, men sometimes see hair loss just above that area — a receding hairline beginning at the temples may seem to spare the space just above your ears as it starts to fade backward. For others, however, it can be the first canary in the coal mine — or the last.
Want to prevent temple balding and hair loss in general? You need to make some decisions. But before you make them, there are a few things you should know about losing hair at your temples.
Let’s start with some important foundational information about this particular hair loss zone.
At the risk of stating the obvious, temple hair loss is a form of hair loss that occurs at the temples.
Your hairline likely follows a similar shape to the average person’s, and if it does, your temples should be those fleshy, hair-covered spaces just above your ears.
Not technically your hairline, not technically a sideburn, this midpoint might be where you’re used to your worst headaches happening.
But it can also be the initial tipping point for several types of hair loss — and the first territory lost in the battle of the receding hairline.
Hair loss at the temples is a common type of hair loss. And if you’re experiencing it yourself, you’re not unusual. You are, however, in a time-sensitive situation.
One of the first and most important steps in stopping or reversing temple balding is determining the cause — of which there can be several.
Hair loss at the temples may have a few causes, specifically three main types of alopecia: alopecia areata, androgenic alopecia and telogen effluvium.
Each has distinctive symptoms, patterns of hair loss and potential causes, so let’s look at them individually.
Temple hair loss is a common sign of the most common cause of hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness (or female pattern hair loss), is common in men and has genetic risk factors.
If your family tree had an awful lot of bald spots, your branch probably won’t be terribly different.
Androgenic alopecia happens to both men and women, and in all cases, it’s a condition that may harm your self-esteem or increase your anxiety.
Some studies even show it could be a signal of some cardiovascular problems to come down the line. But for now, let’s focus on the immediate, hair strand-specific problems.
Temple hair loss due to androgenic alopecia is often considered genetic.
But what actually does the work of killing your hair follicles is a hormone — an androgen — that damages hair follicles by reducing blood supply to them over time and shortening the anagen (or growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
If the hair loss you’re seeing at your temples is even along your entire scalp — if the hair loss is happening all over your head — it might be a sign that telogen effluvium is the cause of your hair loss.
Telogen effluvium is one of a few medical conditions in which your hair follicles enter the resting or dormant phase of growth — the telogen phase — in higher numbers than usual.
Plainly speaking, it’s a condition where more of your hair falls out than normal, causing you to look like you’re losing your hair.
What brings on telogen effluvium can be many things, but they’re generally all considered forms of trauma or major stressors.
A major surgery, rapid weight loss, substantial injury, vitamin deficiency and other nutritional deficiencies or serious illnesses can all cause telogen effluvium, as can serious stress at work.
The good news is that telogen effluvium frequently resolves itself over time once the initial cause has been corrected.
Surgeries heal, illness gets treated, stress gets reduced, and a few months later, your hair will usually grow normally again.
The final and least likely cause of temple balding is alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is actually an autoimmune disease — a condition in which your immune system becomes confused and wrongly attacks your hair follicles as if they’re foreign bodies.
Alopecia areata can be fought and managed, but there’s no cure.
Hair loss due to alopecia areata is often spotty and irregular, and it can also happen across your entire body (a condition known as alopecia universalis).
The easiest way to explain the permanence of balding at the temples is to say, “It depends.”
If the hair loss is due to telogen effluvium, for instance, it’s likely not permanent and may resolve on its own.
Androgenic alopecia can be permanent, but it’s also possible to reverse a little hair loss if your treatment comes quickly and efficiently enough. Those hairs you lost last year, however, are probably gone for good.
With alopecia areata, treatment may include immunosuppressants — drugs designed to handicap your immune system so it can’t hurt you.
These come with a number of risks, but talking to a healthcare professional about your options is a good way to determine whether your hair can be safely saved from this condition.
Losing hair permanently or temporarily is a long-term question. For now, if you’re experiencing signs of hair loss at your temples or elsewhere, you have some serious short-term responsibilities to tend to.
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Losing hair at the temples may very well be just the start of more hair loss to come. But there’s hope for those willing to seek help.
Even better: the best medication for hair loss is accessible and considered safe and effective for most people when taken as recommended.
We’ll be brief and point you to two medications that have been proven to treat hair loss in men.
Finasteride is an FDA-approved medication for hair loss due to androgenic alopecia. This oral medication is a 5 alpha-reductase type 2 inhibitor, which is a complicated way of saying it prevents a certain version of the hormone testosterone from accidentally killing your scalp hair follicles.
Finasteride prevents this form of testosterone from being converted into DHT (short for dihydrotestosterone) — the chemical associated with dead follicles, bald spots and receding temple hairlines.
By reducing the presence of DHT, your scalp hair follicles aren’t going to be trying to survive the same chemical attacks on their safety day in and day out, even at the temples.
In contrast with finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t prevent the progression of male pattern hair loss per se. Instead, it vasodilates, meaning it increases the blood flow to the vessels in your scalp.
Some people see increased hair volume after using topical treatments like minoxidil for an extended period.
There are various other methods to reverse, prevent or replace hair loss, some effective and some not so effective. To learn more, you might want to check out our guide to types of hair loss treatments to understand what’s available.
From hair transplants and grafting to laser combs, there are a lot of ways to go about this — if it gets that far.
Whether you’re losing hair at your temples, above them, below them or all over, hair loss is a serious matter.
Some types of hair loss may resolve over time, but others might be permanent. The only way to tell them apart is to ask a healthcare professional for help in diagnosing and prescribing hair treatment.
Here’s the big takeaway: if you see hair thinning at your temples, fading or receding, you’re on a ticking clock. The sooner you get help, the sooner you may have answers or solutions to stop the hair loss from continuing.
Many types of hair loss are treatable, and with the right treatment plan, you can make sure your whole head doesn’t lose any more hair than it has already. As for your temples, take care of them. The only headache they should bring you is, well…an actual headache.