Hair Loss in Men and Women (Alopecia)
Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD
Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
Nili N. Alai, MD, FAAD
Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Hair loss facts
- What are causes of hair loss?
- How do physicians classify hair loss?
- What is alopecia areata?
- What is traction alopecia?
- What is trichotillomania?
- What is tinea capitis?
- What is generalized (diffuse) hair loss?
- What is telogen effluvium?
- What is androgenetic alopecia ("male-pattern baldness," "female-pattern baldness")?
- What treatment is there for hair loss in men?
- What other options do people have for hair loss?
- Is hair loss in women different than men?
- What about pregnancy hair loss?
- What specific treatments are there for hair loss in women?
- What vitamins are good for hair loss?
- Can itchy scalp cause hair loss?
- How do people prevent hair loss?
- View Hair Loss Pictures - Slideshow
- Hair and Scalp Pictures - Slideshow
- Take the Hair Loss Quiz!
- Hair Loss FAQs
- Patient Comments: Hair Loss - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Hair Loss - Age and Pattern
- Patient Comments: Hair Loss - Vitamins
- Patient Comments: Hair Loss - Telogen Effuvium
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
Hair loss facts
- Hair loss is a very common condition and affects most people at some time in their lives.
- Androgenetic hair loss is seen in both men and women but is worse in men.
- Health issues like thyroid disease, anemia, and low vitamin levels may cause hair loss.
- Alopecia areata is a very common, coin-shaped temporary hair loss patch that usually resolves on its own.
- Medications for hair regrowth include minoxidil (Rogaine), finasteride (Propecia), and dutasteride (Avodart).
- Prevention includes good hair hygiene, regular shampooing, and good nutrition.
- Medical health screening for hair loss may include blood tests such as complete blood count (CBC), iron level, vitamin B, and thyroid function tests (TFT).
- The outlook for hair loss is improving and research is ongoing.
What are causes of hair loss?
Because there are so many types of scalp hair loss, determining the precise cause of hair loss in an individual can be challenging. . This article will cover the most common causes. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia.
Most hair loss is not associated with systemic or internal disease, nor is poor diet a frequent factor. Hair may simply thin as a result of predetermined genetic factors, family history, and the overall aging process. Many men and women may notice a mild and often normal physiologic thinning of hair starting in their thirties and forties. Other times, normal life variations including temporary severe stress, illness, nutritional changes, and hormonal changes like those in pregnancy, puberty, and menopause may cause a reversible hair loss.
Several health conditions, including thyroid disease and iron deficiency anemia, can cause hair loss. While thyroid blood tests and other lab tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), on people who have ordinary hair loss are usually normal, it is important to exclude underlying causes in sudden or severe hair loss. If you are concerned about some other underlying health issues, you may start by seeing your family physician, internist, or gynecologist for basic health screening. Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in problems of skin, hair, and nails and may provide more advanced diagnosis and treatment of hair thinning and loss. Sometimes a scalp biopsy may be taken to help in diagnosis of severe or unexplained hair loss.
Although many medications list "hair loss" among their potential side effects, most drugs are also not likely to induce hair loss. On the other hand, with cancer treatments and immune suppression medications including chemotherapy, hair loss is a very common side effect. Complete hair loss often occurs after a course of major chemotherapy for cancer. Usually, hair regrows after six to 12 months.
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