• Hair starts to gray in about 50% of people by age 50, mainly due to the loss of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells).
  • The degree of hair graying often runs in families, however, the responsible genes are unknown.

Sign & Symptoms

  • As people age, hair becomes thinner, more brittle and loses its natural colour.
  • Baldness may occur in both sexes but with differing distribution. Linear growth rate decreases with aging because the hair shaft proliferate or grow more slowly.
  • Hair loss in the vertex (top of head) and frontotemporal (front and side) regions (androgenetic alopecia) in men begins between the late teens and the late 20s. By the time they reach their 60s, 80% of men are substantially bald.
  • In women, the same pattern of hair loss may occur after menopause although it is rarely pronounced
  • Hair thinning or diffuse hair loss sometimes termed female alopecia.
  • Diffuse hair loss or hair thinning normally occurs in both sexes with aging and should be distinguished from diffuse hair loss caused by iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, chronic renal failure, undernutrition and use of certain drugs (e.g. anabolic steroids).
  • Excessive or unwanted hair growth becomes common after menopause in women as a result of altered estrogen-androgen balance in hormonally sensitive hair follicles. The most distressing symptom may be the appearance of scattered terminal hairs in the beard area.
  • Men may notice excessive hair growth in the eyebrows, nares, or ears.
Last Review : 28 August 2020
Writer/Reviewer : Dr. Ho Bee Kiau