Loss of hair; Alopecia; Baldness; Telogen effluvium
Hair loss from menopause or childbirth often returns to normal 6 months to 2 years later.
For hair loss due to illness (such as fever),
Hair weaves, hair pieces, or changes of hair style may disguise hair loss. This is generally the least expensive and safest approach to hair loss. Hair pieces should not be sutured to the scalp because of the risk of scars and infection.
Call your health care provider if
Call your doctor if:
- You are losing hair in an unusual pattern
- You are losing hair rapidly or at an early age (for example, in your teens or twenties)
- You have any pain or itching with the hair loss
- The skin on your scalp under the involved area is red, scaly, or otherwise abnormal
- You have acne, facial hair, or an abnormal menstrual cycle
- You are a woman and have male pattern baldness
- You have bald spots on your beard or eyebrows
- You have been gaining weight or have muscle weakness, intolerance to cold temperatures, or fatigue
What to expect at your health care provider's office
A careful medical history and examination of the hair and scalp are usually enough to diagnose the cause of your hair loss.
Your doctor will ask detailed questions such as:
- Are you losing hair only from your scalp or from other parts of your body as well?
- Is there a pattern to the hair loss, like a receding hairline or thinning or bald areas on the crown, or is the hair loss throughout your head?
- Have you had a recent illness or high fever?
- Do you dye your hair?
- Do you blow dry your hair? How often?
- How often do you shampoo your hair?
- What kind of shampoo, hair spray, gel, or other product do you put on your hair?
- Have you been under unusual stress lately?
- Do you have nervous habits that include
hair pullingor scalp rubbing?
- Do you have any other symptoms like itching, flaking, or redness of your scalp?
- What medications do you take, including over-the-counter drugs?
Tests that may be performed (but are rarely needed) include:
- Blood tests to rule out disease
- Microscopic examination of a plucked hair
For more information on treatment, see also:
Alopecia areata Female pattern baldness Male pattern baldness
Review Date: 05/13/2011
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.