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How To Diagnose Hair Loss

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

Dr. Donovan’s Commentaries in Hair Loss – How do we diagnose hair loss?
  • What is the cause of my hair loss?
  • How many strands of hair am I losing per day?
  • What type of hair loss do I have?
  • Will my hair loss be permanent?
  • Whats the best treatment for me?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hair loss may cause you distress whether it happens because of genetics, a disease, or even stress. Know that there are some treatments you can try, and expert dermatologists are there to help you. Your hair loss may be able to be reversed. See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice something wrong because the sooner you start treatment, the better.

What Questions Might Your Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose And Categorize Your Hair Loss

Your healthcare provider might ask about your habits:

  • What kinds of hair products do you use?
  • What kinds of hair styles do you wear?
  • What types of food do you eat ?
  • Do you have a habit of pulling your hair out ?

They might ask about your history:

  • Has anyone in your immediate family experienced hair loss?
  • Is there anything stressful going on in your life?
  • What medications and supplements do you take every day?
  • Has hair loss ever happened to you before?
  • What foods are in your diet?

And, they might ask about your observations:

  • How long have you been losing hair?
  • Have you been shedding more?
  • Have you noticed hair loss in places other than your scalp, like your eyebrows? Leg and arm hair?
  • Does anything worsen your hair loss?
  • Does anything improve your hair loss?
  • Have you noticed hair loss occasionally or has it been going on continuously?
  • Have you noticed if your hair growth has changed?
  • Has your hair been breaking more often?

Hair Loss Can Develop Elsewhere Aside From Your Scalp

While hair loss usually affects the scalp, some conditions can cause hair loss on other areas of the body. Alopecia areata is a disease that can cause hair loss anywhere on the body where hair grows. People who have alopecia areata often have hair loss on their scalp, but they can also lose part of their:

  • Eyebrows

  • Nose hairs

  • Pubic hair

A few people who have alopecia areata lose all the hair on their body. When this happens, the disease is called alopecia universalis.

Frontal fibrosing alopecia is another disease that causes hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere. Some people lose their eyebrows, eyelashes, or hair on other areas of the body.

Its also possible to keep the hair on your head and lose it elsewhere. The friction from wearing tight clothing, shoes, or socks can cause hair loss where you have continual rubbing.

Also Check: How To Avoid Baby Hair Loss

Alopecia Areata In Females

Females are more likely to develop alopecia areata than males, but its not clear why. The hair loss can occur on the scalp, as well as the eyebrows and lashes.

Unlike female-pattern hair loss, which is a gradual thinning of hair that covers a large area, alopecia areata may be confined to a small area. The hair loss may occur all at once, too. The area can gradually expand, which results in greater hair loss.

How To Cope With Alopecia Areata

Hair Loss

Alopecia areata can be emotionally challenging, especially when hair loss affects the whole scalp. People with the condition may feel isolated or become depressed.

Its important to keep in mind that more than 5 million people in the United States have alopecia areata. You arent alone. There are lifestyle changes you can make to help cope with the condition.

If youre looking for help with wigs, eyelash extensions, or eyebrow stencils, the National Alopecia Areata Foundation maintains an online shop with hair accessories and products. Wig companies like Godivas Secret Wigs also have online videos and tutorials for help with styling and care.

Active teens and young adults with completely bald heads can attach suction cups to wigs and hair pieces so the wig wont fall off while playing sports.

New wig technologies, like the vacuum wig, which is made from silicon and a suction base, mean that people with alopecia can even swim with their wigs still in place. Vacuum wigs, however, are typically more expensive.

If hair loss affects the eyebrows, an eyebrow pencil, microblading, and eyebrow tattoos are a few options to consider.

Also Check: What To Do For Women’s Hair Loss

What Is Alopecia And What Causes It

Alopecia is a condition that causes people to lose hair from a single area or from multiple areas of their head, face or body.

The most common types are:

  • male pattern baldness
  • female pattern baldness
  • alopecia areata

Less commonly, hair loss can be caused by medicines , medical conditions, or psychological conditions.

How Is Alopecia Areata Diagnosed

A doctor may be able to diagnose alopecia areata simply by looking at the extent of your hair loss and by examining a few hair samples under a microscope.

Your doctor may also perform a scalp biopsy to rule out other conditions that cause hair loss, including fungal infections like tinea capitis. During a scalp biopsy, your doctor will remove a small piece of skin on your scalp for analysis.

Blood tests might be done if other autoimmune conditions are suspected.

The specific blood test performed depends on the particular disorder the doctor suspects. However, a doctor will likely test for the presence of one or more abnormal antibodies. If these antibodies are found in your blood, it usually means that you have an autoimmune disorder.

Other blood tests that can help rule out other conditions include the following:

Recommended Reading: What Vitamins For Hair Loss

The Scalp Biopsy Process

While getting a biopsy can seem daunting, its usually a quick and simple process that isnt likely to cause significant pain or discomfort.

A biopsy is a simple, in-office procedure. Your healthcare provider will clean the affected area of your scalp, then remove a small amount of skin using a special device.

Make sure to follow your healthcare providers instructions and stay still throughout the procedure.

Your healthcare provider will usually take a biopsy in the direction of your hair growth. After the procedure, the biopsy sample will be divided into horizontal or vertical sections for analysis.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may need to take more than one skin sample.

In order to prevent pain, your healthcare provider may use a local anesthetic to numb the area before performing the procedure.

After the biopsy, your healthcare provider will dress the affected area. Depending on the biopsy technique, the area may be sutured closed.

Make sure to follow the care instructions provided by your healthcare provider to prevent infection and help your skin recover.

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Also Check: What To Do For Pcos Hair Loss

What To Expect At Your Office Visit

A careful medical history and examination of the hair and scalp are usually enough to diagnose the cause of your hair loss.

Your provider will ask detailed questions about:

  • Symptoms of your hair loss. If there is a pattern to your hair loss or if you are losing hair from other parts of your body as well, if other family members have hair loss.
  • How you care for your hair. How often you shampoo and blow dry or if you use hair products.
  • Your emotional well-being and if you are under a lot of physical or emotional stress
  • Your diet, if you have made recent changes
  • Recent illnesses such as a high fever or any surgeries

Tests that may be performed include:

  • Blood tests to rule out disease
  • Microscopic examination of a plucked hair

Changing Your Hair Care May Help

Some hairstyles and hair care habits can damage hair, leading to hair loss. If your dermatologist finds that this may be causing your hair loss, your dermatologist can recommend changes that will help you stop damaging your hair.

Youll find tips that dermatologists give their patients at:

    Read Also: What Can Doctors Prescribe For Hair Loss

    What Is Hair Loss

    The American Academy of Dermatology notes that 80 million men and women in America have hereditary hair loss .

    It can affect just the hair on your scalp or your entire body. Although alopecia is more prevalent in older adults, excessive hair loss can occur in children as well.

    Its normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. With about 100,000 hairs on your head, that small loss isnt noticeable.

    New hair normally replaces the lost hair, but this doesnt always happen. Hair loss can develop gradually over years or happen abruptly. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary.

    Its impossible to count the amount of hair lost on a given day. You may be losing more hair than is normal if you notice a large amount of hair in the drain after washing your hair or clumps of hair in your brush. You might also notice thinning patches of hair or baldness.

    If you notice that youre losing more hair than usual, you should discuss the problem with your doctor. They can determine the underlying cause of your hair loss and suggest appropriate treatment plans.

    What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Hair Loss

    Pin on Hair Loss explained

    With an accurate diagnosis, many people who have hair loss can see hair regrowth. If you need treatment for regrowth, the earlier you start, the more likely you are to see regrowth.

    Its important to understand that:

    • Not every type of hair loss can be treated, but a dermatologist may be able to prevent further hair loss.

    • It can take months before you see results from treatment.

    • No one treatment works for everyone, even two people with the same type of hair loss.

    • Sometimes, hair loss is stubborn and requires trying different treatments before finding one that works.

    Self-care also plays an essential role in preventing and treating hair loss. To find out what dermatologists recommend, go to Hair loss: Self-care.

    Images1,2: Getty Images

    3: Property of the American Academy of Dermatology, A to Z Video Series

    4: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998 39:578-89.

    ReferencesAdil A, Godwin M. The effectiveness of treatments for androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 77:136-141.

    American Academy of Dermatology:

    • Research demonstrates potential of platelet-rich plasma therapy for hair loss News release issued March 1, 2019. Last accessed May 22, 2019.

    • New generation of laser and light therapies could provide future treatment options for skin, hair and nail conditions, News release issued March 16, 2012. Last accessed May 22, 2019.

    Read Also: Does Trulicity Cause Hair Loss

    What Is The Normal Hair Growth Cycle

    Everyone is born with a fixed number of hair follicles on the scalp that produce hairs throughout life. Hair grows from the base of the follicle at a rate of about one centimetre a month for about three years. This growth phase is called anagen. After anagen, the hair dies and no longer grows. It sits dormant in the follicle for a three-month phase called telogen. After telogen, the hair follicle undergoes another anagen phase to produce new hair that grows out of the same follicle. As it grows, the old telogen hair is dislodged or pushed out. The hair cycle continues throughout life.

    The normal hair growth cycle

    Treatment For Hair Loss

    Most hair loss does not need treatment and is either:

    • temporary and it’ll grow back
    • a normal part of getting older

    Hair loss caused by a medical condition usually stops or grows back once you’ve recovered.

    There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. But most treatments are not available on the NHS, so you’ll have to pay for them.

    No treatment is 100% effective.

    Recommended Reading: What Causes Hair Loss In Women Over 60

    Hair Loss: Diagnosis And Treatment

    Dermatologist examining a patient with hair loss

    To find out what’s causing your hair loss, a dermatologist may use a tool called a dermascope to get a closer look.

    Effective treatment for hair loss begins with finding the cause. To get an accurate diagnosis, it helps to see a board-certified dermatologist. These doctors have in-depth knowledge about the many causes of hair loss and experience treating the diverse causes.

    What Are The Effects Of Female Pattern Hair Loss

    Blood Work and Hair Loss (Thriva blood test hair loss diagnosis + anti-hair loss action plan)

    Many studies have shown that hair loss is not merely a cosmetic issue, but it also causes significant psychological distress. Compared to unaffected women, those affected have a more negative body image and are less able to cope with daily functioning. Hair loss can be associated with low self-esteem, depression, introversion, and feelings of unattractiveness. It is especially hard to live in a society that places great value on youthful appearance and attractiveness.

    Also Check: Why Is My Hair Thinning At 17

    Female Pattern Hair Loss

    Female Pattern Hair Loss is a commonly seen non-scarring alopecia distinct from male AGA, presenting with diffuse central thinning beginning anytime after menarche or adrenarche . Frontotemporal recession or vertex loss, a more male pattern baldness, is less common . Trichoscopy shows increased yellow dots, pilosebaceous units with only one hair, and perifollicular hyperpigmentation . Family histories for FPHL are often not straightforward, and androgens may not explain all cases of FPHL as many female patients demonstrate little to no biochemical or clinical evidence of increased androgens . Signs of hyperandrogenism such as hirsutism and menstrual disturbances should prompt evaluation for polycystic ovarian syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and other androgen-producing conditions . Topical minoxidil is similarly well tolerated in adolescent girls and prevents progression of FPHL . In cases of hyperandrogenism, antiandrogen or 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, such as spironolactone, finasteride, and cyproterone acetate, can be used, though the efficacy of these treatments in children remains unclear .

    Patterns Of Female Hair Loss

    Clinicians use the Ludwig Classification to describe female pattern hair loss. Type I is minimal thinning that can be camouflaged with hair styling techniques. Type II is characterized by decreased volume and noticeable widening of the mid-line part. Type III describes diffuse thinning, with a see-through appearance on the top of the scalp.

    Recommended Reading: How To Reduce Hair Loss During Chemo

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