The bare factsBald Spots & Genetics

The thought of going bald might make your hair stand up on end, but if you’re experiencing some hair loss, you should know you’re in good company. While some environmental factors may influence balding, genetics generally dictate how and when some men lose hair.

How it works

Scientists are still uncovering critical information about balding patterns and several studies indicate that testosterone plays an important role. But baldness doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has unusually high or low levels of testosterone; rather, it suggests that the person’s hair follicles respond differently to this hormone.

The genetic link

23andMe researchers found genetic variants associated with balding. These variants are located in or near genes that play a role in hormonal status, melatonin signaling, fat cell differentiation, and the growth phases of hair.

types of bald spots

Did you know?

Genetics also help determine balding patterns. Some people lose their hair in a circular pattern at the crown. Others develop receding hairlines as they age.

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Curious if you’re likely to have a bald spot? 23andMe can help you find out. Get our Health + Ancestry Service to find out whether you’re likely to get a bald spot. Please note that the Bald Spot report offered by 23andMe is available only for men.

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23andMe Blog (2017, May 17). “The Role of Genetics in Male-Pattern Baldness.” 23andMe Blog, 23andMe Research. Retreived September 16, 2019, from

Bryan, CP (1930). “Ebers Papyrus.” The Garden City Press. pg 153.Hagenaars SP et al. (2017). “Genetic prediction of male pattern baldness.” PLoS Genet. 13(2):e1006594.

Hamilton JB. (1951). “Patterned loss of hair in man; types and incidence.” Ann N Y Acad Sci. 53(3):708-28.

Heilmann-Heimbach S et al. (2016). “Hunting the genes in male-pattern alopecia: how important are they, how close are we and what will they tell us?” Exp Dermatol. 25(4):251-7.

Heilmann-Heimbach SC et al. (2017). “Meta-Analysis Identifies Novel Risk Loci and Yields Systematic Insights into the Biology of Male-Pattern Baldness.” Nat Commun 8(March):14694.

Nyholt DR et al. (2003). “Genetic basis of male pattern baldness.” J Invest Dermatol. 121(6):1561-4.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). “Androgenetic Alopecia.” Genetics Home Reference.