Hair loss is
diagnosed through a medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will
ask you questions about your hair loss, look at the pattern of your hair loss,
and examine your scalp. He or she may also tug gently on a few hairs or pull
The most common cause of hair loss, inherited hair
loss (androgenetic alopecia), is easily
recognized. Men tend to lose hair from the forehead area and top of the head
with normal amounts of hair on other areas of the scalp. Women tend to keep their front hairline, but have thinning of the hair on the top of the head.
It can be long and wavy, short and straight, frizzy and unmanageable, or smooth and shiny. Hair comes in many different lengths, styles, colors, and textures. Yet just about everyone -- no matter what kind of hair they have -- falls prey to at least one hair problem at some point in life.
This article covers some of the most common hair dilemmas, from hair loss to greasy hair.
To determine the cause of your
hair loss, your doctor may ask you about:
Characteristics of your hair loss. Is your
hair thinning, with your scalp becoming more visible, but your hair is not
noticeably falling out? Or is your hair shedding, with lots of hair falling
How long your hair loss has been occurring. How long has it
been since you had your normal amount of hair?
Your family history
of hair loss. Does your mother or father, brother or sister, or any other
relative have hair loss? If so, what caused their hair loss?
hairstyling habits. Has your hair become fragile from pulling it too tight or
from other hairstyling habits? Have you had any chemical treatments to your
hair, such as permanents (perms) or bleaching? Do you use a blow-dryer that may
be too hot? Is a curling iron damaging your hair?
Hair loss in women is more difficult to diagnose than
it is in men because the pattern of hair loss is not as noticeable as it is in
men. In women with mild to moderate hair thinning who are otherwise healthy
menstrual cycles and fertility history), testing to
diagnose hair loss usually is not done. But in women who have irregular
menstrual cycles, continued episodes of
acne, or too much body hair (hirsutism), testing for a
class of hormones called
testosterone, is sometimes done.