Hair thinning and loss can be very distressing for both men and women, often significantly affecting one’s self-esteem. There can be many causes of hair loss. It is important to achieve an accurate diagnosis to determine the most appropriate and effective treatments. Dermatologists are usually the best qualified specialists to diagnose the source of the problem and to recommend the ideal method to address this common issue.
What are examples of hair loss?
Hair thinning and loss can develop as a result of many factors. Some are genetic, others are due to hormonal changes, an underlying medical disorder, or an autoimmune process. Examples of hair loss include female or male pattern alopecia (the most common cause and typically a result of genetic influences), telogen effluvium (often due to an underlying medical issue, and the second most common reason for hair loss), alopecia areata (an autoimmune skin disease that affects hair growth), scarring alopecia (a condition when hair follicles are replaced by scar tissue), and folliculitis decalvans (inflammation of the hair follicle).
How is the correct diagnosis made?
The diagnosis is made by clinical examination and, where appropriate, blood tests and biopsies. A discussion about medical history and lifestyle behaviours can also prove useful in determining the source of the hair loss, which can be caused by a combination of factors.
What treatments are available?
Treatment depends on the condition. Non-surgical approaches include Minoxidil (a topical medication), steroid creams, steroid injections, dietary supplements, low level laser/LED light, platelet rich plasma (PRP), and prescription tablets. Depending on the diagnosis, multiple techniques may be recommended. These methods can limit additional hair loss and help regrow hair for many people.
Dr Anne Farrell has a particular interest in hair problems and has published books and lectures regularly on this widespread problem.