Text that says "Why is my dad bald?" with drawings of bald men of varying skin colors and sizes, looking up at the text.

Don’t worry, he isn’t the only one. Around 50 million men are affected by androgenetic alopecia (baldness). That’s a lot of dads. In fact, baldness can affect some women as well – it just isn’t as common. But what exactly causes the Androgenetic alopecia?

It begins with hormones. Hormones are like the messengers in the body. They carry instructions from one part to the next and make sure everything is functioning properly.

Highway roads intersecting with overpasses, with the words "Blood vessels are like roads." There is a red car driving across in the foreground labelled "Hormones" and the words "are like delivery guys."

If all your blood vessels were like a big highway system, then the hormones would be the delivery cars driving from one stop to the next, and bringing instructions along with them! 

A personified androgen (hormone) is getting out of the a red car, with a taxi sign that says "Hormones" and a license plate that says "FindRogen mobile." The androgen is thinking about reading hair grown instructions and thinking about hair follicles.

The hormones that contribute to your dad’s shiny head are called androgens. Androgens are a specific type of hormone that carry instructions about hair growth to the hair follicles, which are little pockets under our skin where hairs are made. 

Two pink, tear-drop shaped hormones are reading instructions on paper, with envelopes and a bag of other instructions in front of them. Behind them is a landscape.

When hair follicles function properly, they grow each strand of hair for 2 to 6 years, wait a few months, and then let the strand fall out and start the process all over again.

When too much androgen hangs around, however, the hair follicles get overwhelmed and start to produce strands that are shorter and thinner in much briefer cycles. The space between the cycles gets longer too.

A group of androgens, wearing green overalls and blue, pink and green caps, are handing instruction bags to hair follicles. One hair follicle has already read the instructions and looks sad.

This leads to thinner and shorter hair – the kind of hair that begins to characterize baldness! Thinning can lead to bald patches and sometimes even complete hair loss.


Thanks for the great question from Connor, 8, and Parker, 6, from Watkinsville, GA!


By The Great Isabel Yates @isabel.grey.art, a superstar high school student in Raleigh, North Carolina. Isabel is committed to answering your burning questions! Just ask!

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