Most of us have heard of the term “widow’s peak” and thought little of it. Indeed, some people have it, and some don’t, and there’s nothing good or bad about having one. And generally speaking, it doesn’t really mean much of anything except if it shows up later in life, when it could mean that you are having changes to your hairline. So, if you are asking yourself if having a widow’s peak means baldness, the answer is yes, it can if you didn’t always have one.
What is a widow’s peak?
Have you ever wondered why this region of the hairline is called the widow’s peak? There are a few different theories dating back to the 1800s, and each is rather morbid. Firstly, some men who had widow’s peaks were thought to die earlier, so this V shape in the hairline was thought to be indicative of early death or early widowhood for their spouse. (Rest assured, this is certainly not the case). Another theory behind this term is that women would wear a pointed or triangular hood touching the middle of their forehead when their husbands passed.
But a widow’s peak is just one of the millions of phenotypic expressions of our genetic material. Some people have very straight hairlines, and others have their hair meet at a point in the center of their forehead. The genes responsible for causing a widow’s peak are still unknown, but multiple genes are likely involved.
And while we said that there is no problem with having a widow’s peak, there are a few rare genetic conditions, like Aarskog syndrome or frontalnasal dysplasia, where widow’s peaks are found in each person with the condition. (But again, widow’s peaks are not uncommon in the population and are rarely associated with a disease or disorder).
What about widow’s peaks later in life?
If you were born with a widow’s peak, it does not necessarily mean you will go bald. Indeed, your chances are probably the same as the person next to you with a straight hairline. But, if you did not have a widow’s peak for your whole life and suddenly have it, chances are you are experiencing hair loss.
One of the first signs of male pattern hair loss in many men is a loss of hair along the hairline. Indeed, that is why many men with hair loss adopt a V-shape along their hairline. This shape is not a widow’s peak but is rather the result of androgenic alopecia (the fancier term for male pattern hair loss), which is caused by a sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is still unknown what causes hair loss of this type, but it likely comes down to genetics as it tends to run in families.
If you suddenly have a V-shaped hairline, you will need to decide pretty quickly what you want for the outcome. You need to quickly decide what you want your hair to look like because male pattern hair loss is progressive, and the longer you wait to start treating it, the harder it is to grow back.
If you want to keep as much hair as possible, you will want to start treating it right away with topical medications like minoxidil and Nanoxidil. But, if you don’t mind sporting a bald head that can look fantastic on many men, enjoy your hair while you can and consider shaving it when you no longer like it.
Other signs of hair loss besides a ‘new’ widow’s peak
Not every man (and, for that matter, woman) will develop a widow’s peak when they start losing hair. Hair loss can start in other places of the head, so keep your eye out on the following areas if you are assessing for hair loss:
- Your crown - this is the area that leads to a bald spot on the top of the head. Some men will develop hair loss here first, and it can be particularly difficult to treat. Not to mention, it is also hard to identify hair loss here, as you generally do not see this part of your scalp too often.
- Hair shedding - Another sign of hair loss is hair that is loose or falls out easily. If you find an uptick in the number of hairs your shed in the shower or on your pillow, it may be a sign of hair loss. (Unless you have had a big stressor in your life recently, which could be caused by a temporary stress-induced condition called telogen effluvium.)
- Widening part line of thinning above the temples - More specifically geared towards women, these two areas of the scalp are common places where you may see hair thinning. You may also see some recession of your hairline, but generally, women see hair loss all over and by their temples (which could cause a widow’s peak to form).
If you have hair loss or a newfound widow’s peak, consult with your dermatologist to be sure of the cause of your hair loss. While androgenic alopecia is the most common culprit behind permanent hair loss, many other factors may cause hair loss. Be sure you have the correct diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment based on your hair goals.