Hair loss, or alopecia, can affect both men and women. Alopecia can be a natural condition, linked to aging. Or it can be the result of a genetic characteristic, commonly referred to male pattern or female pattern baldness. In this case, men can begin to experience hair loss as early as their late teens and twenties. Women with the condition tend to notice thinning hair in their forties or later. Other types of hair loss, such as sudden, temporary bald patches can be particularly frustrating and stressful. Because many factors can contribute to hair loss, it can sometimes be difficult uncover a direct cause.
If your hair is thinning, it is advisable to be proactive and see a dermatologist. Dr. Senait ‘
Dyson, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in Tucson, AZ, recommends a proper diagnosis as soon as possible. First, a doctor’s visit can rule out any underlying medical problem. Second, the sooner the problem is addressed, the more options you may have for treating hair loss.
Diagnosing Hair Loss
To diagnose your hair loss, Dr. Dyson will review your medical history, run blood tests, and examine your scalp to establish an overall picture. For those who do not have a family history of baldness, this comprehensive exam can help hone in on the problem. For those that do have a family predisposition, it can eliminate other potential causes and confirm a genetic one. To prepare for your consultation, you may want to consider the following questions:
Is there a history of baldness in your family?
Was the onset of hair loss gradual or sudden?
Are you taking any medications?
Are you experiencing stress?
Blood tests can help determine if there is a vitamin deficiency. For example, lack of iron is linked to hair loss and often a culprit—especially in the case of women. In addition to a blood analysis, a scalp biopsy— a quick and painless procedure—can help determine whether hair loss is genetic, or if it is related to other factors, such infection, inflammation or stress.