At the first sign of hair loss, usually on your pillow or the drain on your bath or shower, it is a wise move to get checked out. There have never been so many diagnostic tools available, we take a closer look.
Getting a Diagnosis
The two most common causes of hair loss are Androgenetic Alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) and Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune condition that results in patchy hair loss… either a single patch or extensive loss. Both of these conditions, along with less common but related conditions like alopecia totalis (complete scalp hair loss) and alopecia universalis (total loss of all body hair) are relatively easy to diagnose. Diagnosis will involve taking into consideration your family medical history as pattern baldness is hereditary.
Initial tests may can go from the most basic… pulling the hair to see how many come away, with 2 or 3 coming loose from 100 hairs pulled being normal. More sophisticated tools are available however, a Densitometer is a handheld magnification device that can be used to check for shrinking of the follicles. These days a biopsy can even be performed – this involves the removal of a tiny piece of skin from your scalp which is then examined under a microscope to evaluate hair loss inside the follicle. They can also study the hair itself under a microscope for clues to its structural health – and to check for the presence of fungus or lice.
What If My Hair Loss Is Not From A Common Cause?
The fact is that there are more triggers for hair loss than you can shake a stick at. From a shock, bereavement for example, to pregnancy and any serious illness… or powerful treatments come to that – of which chemotherapy is probably the best known. That huge range of triggers has seen the development of a great set of blood tests that can be used to drill down to the specifics of your personal situation. These tests can be used to check:
- Complete blood count
- Total Iron Binding Capacity
- Thyroid stimulating hormone
- Antinuclear antibodies
- Serum iron and serum ferritin levels
- C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Hormone levels (DHEAs, testosterone, androstenedione, prolactin, follicular stimulating hormone, and leutinizing hormone)
The results of these tests should give a clear indication as to any underlying cause for hair loss, along with a course of treatment to address the problem – which in many cases can see a return to a full head of hair.
The important thing to remember is that not all hair loss is permanent or inevitable. Early diagnosis is key to a swift recovery, or even to identify the course of treatments that might help stave off the advance of pattern baldness.
Once you have a diagnosis you can take decisions about what is the right solution for you, in your situation. HIS Hair Clinic experts are available at all our clinics to discuss your options. To arrange a free consultation please click here to find your nearest clinic.