Hair loss | aad.org

Hair loss

Bookmark and Share

Hair loss in women

  • Hair loss is a common problem for women, which can be distressing.
  • Hereditary hair loss is a medical condition that affects about 30 million American women.
  • In quality-of-life studies, women experiencing hair loss reported a higher incidence of behavior that interfered with their daily lives — including a significant loss of self-esteem, being introverted, feeling less attractive and tense feelings in public places.
  • The average person loses 50 to 100 hairs per day. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out, should consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of hair loss

  • To properly diagnose the cause of hair loss, a dermatologist will ask the patient for a detailed history. This includes medications, allergies, family history and diet, as well as a woman's record of menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
  • A thorough examination of the hair also will take place. This typically involves a detailed inspection of the hair and scalp.
  • Hair distribution over the rest of the body also will be assessed to see if there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
  • Scalp biopsies can be used to make or confirm a diagnosis of hair loss and can be essential in guiding therapy.

Causes of hair loss

  • If hair loss begins suddenly, illness, nutrition, medication or pregnancy might be the cause. The cause also could be a genetic syndrome or hormone-related disorder.
  • The pattern of hair thinning (localized or diffused) can determine the reason for hair loss.
  • Hair care practices and use of hair cosmetics (e.g. bleaching, permanent waving) can be a key factor in hair loss.

Treatment of hair loss in women

  • Topical minoxidil has been shown to help in the regrowth of hair or to help slow hair loss.
  • Hair loss caused by diseases such as thyroid disease can be reversed with treatment of the underlying disease.
  • Topical or injectable cortisone medications have been shown to accelerate regrowth of hair for certain conditions.
  • Hair transplantation is a permanent form of hair replacement that uses dermatologic surgery to move some existing scalp hair to bald or thinning parts. It might benefit women who have thinning hair and those who have lost some but not all hair from burns or other scarring injuries to the scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes.
  • Hair styling and scalp camouflage techniques are helpful adjuncts in minimizing the appearance of hair loss in women.

Hair loss in men

  • Hereditary hair loss is a medical condition that affects about 50 million American men.
  • Hair loss can be inherited from either the mother's or father's side of the family.
  • A man has a 50 percent chance of experiencing hair loss by his 50th birthday. This hereditary condition, clinically termed androgenetic alopecia, is characterized by a receding hairline as well as a loss of hair on top of the scalp.
  • Treatment options that include topical minoxidil and oral finasteride have been shown to help in the regrowth of hair or slow hair loss.
  • Hair transplantation is another treatment option that offers a permanent form of hair replacement using dermatologic surgery to move some existing scalp hair to bald or thinning parts.

See your dermatologist for successful diagnosis and treatment of hair loss.

Learn more about hair loss ...

Dermatology A to Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z