The psychosocial consequences of androgenetic alopecia: a review of the research literature

Br J Dermatol. 1999 Sep;141(3):398-405. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.1999.03030.x.


Androgenetic alopecia is a common dermatological condition, with potentially adverse psychosocial sequelae. The present review critically examines scientific evidence concerning the effects of androgenetic hair loss on social processes and psychological functioning, as well as the psychosocial outcomes of medical treatments. Research confirms a negative but modest effect of visible hair loss on social perceptions. More importantly, androgenetic alopecia is typically experienced as a moderately stressful condition that diminishes body image satisfaction. Deleterious effects on self-esteem and certain facets of psychological adjustment are more apparent among women than men and among treatment-seeking patients. Various 'risk factors' vis-à-vis the psychological adversity of androgenetic alopecia are identified. Medical treatments, i.e. minoxidil and finasteride, appear to have some psychological efficacy. A conceptual model is delineated to explain the psychological effects of hair loss and its treatment. Directions for needed research are discussed. Strategies are presented for the clinical management of psychological issues among these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / drug therapy
  • Alopecia / psychology*
  • Body Image
  • Culture
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Finasteride / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Finasteride
  • Minoxidil