The Norwood scale (also referred to as the Norwood Hamilton scale) is a hair loss classification system that is commonly used to describe hair loss1. This scale is based on the typical hair thinning patterns found in men; hair loss starting at the temple and crown areas and progressing along the scalp2. There are 7 different hair loss stages that are described by the Norwood scale.
Type I: If your hairline recession is very limited you could be considered type I2.
Type II: Do you have a triangular hairline recession occurring? Individuals with a type II classification have limited hair loss which can be addressed using non-surgical or surgical options.
Type III: Symmetrical frontotemporal recessions are typical characteristics of a type III individual2. Topical therapy, oral therapy or hair transplants have all been successful in addressing this type of hair loss3.
Type IV: Individuals with a type IV classification typically have a hair bridge extending from the top of their scalp to areas of hair loss2. A severe hairline recession combined with limited hair in the vertex region accounts for this phenomenon. Hair transplants or medical therapies can be considered options for individuals with this type of hair loss.
Type V: If you have a bridge of hair, similar to the one described in type IV but is narrower and sparser, you might be displaying type V hair loss2. As there can be moderate amounts of hair loss associated with this classification a hair transplant is most likely your best remedy4.
Type VI: If you have moved passed the hair bridge stages and hair loss in your temporal and vertex regions have joined you are considered a type VI candidate1. Due to the large amount of hair loss associated with this classification, oral and topical hair treatments are not guaranteed to work. A hair transplant may be the best option.
Type VII: In this last stage of hair loss it is common to notice hair occurring along on the sides and back of the scalp, forming a horseshoe shape2. Individuals in this category have the highest amount of hair loss5. Hair transplants or non-surgical options such as a hair system are opportunities available for individuals with this type of hair loss.
If you don’t fit in any of these categories that’s ok. This scale meant to be a guide and does not include all possible hair loss patterns or conditions. The Norwood scale was made specifically for androgenetic alopecia and other scales have been created for other hair loss conditions such as the Ludwig scale for hair loss in women. To learn more about your hair loss and treatments available, ask your doctor for more information.
Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc.
- Norwood OT. Male pattern baldness: classification and incidence. South Med J. 1975 Nov;68(11):1359–65.
- Gupta M, Mysore V. Classifications of Patterned Hair Loss: A Review. J Cutan Aesthetic Surg. 2016 Mar;9(1):3–12.
- Berger RS, Fu JL, Smiles KA, Turner CB, Schnell BM, Werchowski KM, et al. The effects of minoxidil, 1% pyrithione zinc and a combination of both on hair density: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2003 Aug;149(2):354–62.
- Yang C-C. Calvitron automated hair transplant system in alopecia treatment: a case report. Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2003 Sep;19(9):470–5.
- Patwardhan N, Mysore V, IADVL Dermatosurgery Task Force. Hair transplantation: standard guidelines of care. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2008 Jan;74 Suppl:S46–53.