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Hair Loss (cont.)

How Do Health-Care Professionals Assess and Diagnose Hair Loss?

Physicians, generally dermatologists and occasionally endocrinologists, diagnose hair loss by performing a physical examination of the hair shaft and the underlying skin and the distribution of hair loss.

  • Charts with pictures of hair loss help to classify the amount and type of hair loss. These include the Hamilton and Ludwig classification charts.
    • Extra tests may be necessary if the diagnosis is uncertain, especially if you have symptoms besides hair loss.
    • A hair pull test can be performed to examine multiple hair shafts microscopically for thickness, length, structure, and growth phase and to determine if abnormal number of hairs are falling out.
  • Different thickness and length occurs in the most common type of hair loss, androgenic alopecia.
  • Skin problems leading to hair loss may be diagnosed by taking a sample of skin and hair from the affected area. A doctor looking at this under a microscope might find a specific cause.
  • If hair loss is severe or other signs of illness are present, your health-care provider may order specific tests, including X-rays and blood tests.

What Is the Treatment for Hair Loss?

If hair loss is caused by an illness, treatment of the illness is the best treatment for hair loss. The decision to treat androgenetic alopecia depends upon its emotional effect on the patient's sense of well-being. Many different therapies to stop hair loss and to regrow hair are promoted; you should discuss these options with your physician to establish their validity.

Treatment options for androgenetic alopecia include grooming techniques, wigs and hairpieces, medications, and surgery.

  • Styling hair to cover the areas with the most hair loss is effective for mild cases. Washing and styling the hair will not cause further hair loss.
  • For more severe hair loss, wigs and hairpieces can provide good results if you are willing to try them. Either of these options can be used in combination with medications or surgery if the results of styling or the hairpiece alone are not satisfying.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/22/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Alopecia Areata »

Alopecia areata is a recurrent nonscarring type of hair loss that can affect any hair-bearing area.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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