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Hair Loss - Topic Overview

Your doctor will ask you some questions, like how much hair you're losing, when it started, and whether your parents have hair loss. He or she will look closely at your scalp and hair loss pattern and may gently pull out a few hairs for tests.

If it's not clear what's causing you to lose your hair, your doctor may do a blood test or look at a sample of your hair or scalp with a microscope.

How you choose to treat your hair loss depends on the cause. It also depends on your feelings. You may decide that you need treatment, or you may not be worried about thinning hair or baldness. The choice is up to you.

If hair loss is caused by something that won't last or can be treated, your hair is likely to grow back. For example, if an underactive thyroid is causing the problem, taking thyroid medicine may help. And most hair lost during chemotherapy will grow back after the treatment ends.

Hair loss that runs in the family can be treated with medicines or hair transplant surgery. Some people choose to wear hairpieces, like wigs or toupees (say "too-PAYZ"). Finding different ways of styling your hair, like dyeing or combing, also can help.

If hair loss is caused by something you can control, like stress or medicines, you can treat it by getting rid of the cause.

When you are deciding about treatment, think about these questions:

  • Which treatment is most likely to work?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will it last?
  • What are the side effects and other risks?
  • How much will it cost, and will insurance cover it?

When your hair loss is inherited, your hair won't grow back naturally. Treatment can help some hair grow back and prevent more from falling out, but you probably won't get all your hair back. And treatment doesn't work for everyone.

When medicines, stress, or hair damage cause you to lose your hair, it often will grow back after you take away the cause. If this doesn't help, you may need other treatment.

If you're unhappy with how hair loss makes you look, treatment may help you feel better. It's natural to want to like the way you look.

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