Introduction to Alopecia Tests and diagnosis
Hair loss may be diagnosed through getting a patient's medical
history and through a host of physical exams. The process for testing
and diagnosing alopecia may
involve the following:
- Questions regarding the patients hair loss will be asked,
- The pattern of hair loss and the patient's scalp will be examined;
- A few hairs may be pulled out using the hair pull test
Androgenetic alopecia, the most common type of hair
loss disease, can be recognized rather easily. Men who have
this disease tend to lose hair in the forehead area and on areas
on top of the head while retaining the normal amount of hair on
all other areas, whereas women who have androgenetic alopecia tend
to have an equal amount of hair thinning throughout the entire scalp.
Men's hair loss is easier to diagnose than the hair loss that occurs
in women. This is because the pattern of hair loss in women is less
obvious than the patterns with men. Women who suffer from mild and
moderate hair loss but have normal fertility history and menstrual
cycles may not need any testing done; however, some women who have
irregular cycles, too much hair on the body, and bouts of acne may
be tested for hormones called androgens.
In diagnosing for alopecia, the doctor may need to determine the cause of hair loss through acquiring a detailed medical history by getting information on the following items:
- Hair loss characteristics The doctor may ask
if the hair is visibly thinning, with lots of hair falling out
in clumps, or whether the scalp is becoming more visible but the
shedding of hair is not as noticeable.
- Family history of hair loss The doctor will
ask for information on any known relatives that have suffered
from hair loss and may also ask for the reasons of their hair
- Length of time hair loss has been ongoing Tthe
health professional may want information regarding the length
of time the individual has been losing hair
- Hairstyling habits some hairstyles contribute
to loss of hair, so the doctor may ask questions regarding the
choice of hairstyles as well as any medical treatments done to
- Recent illness Hair loss may be attributed
to illnesses such as ringworms, so questions relating to this
may come up in getting a medical history.
- Medication Some medicines cause hair loss as
well, so letting the doctor know about all medication that was
taken may help in diagnosing the problem properly
- Diet Doctors may want to get details regarding
the amount of protein and iron in one's diet since deficiencies
in these items can cause hair loss.
If for some reason, the cause of hair loss is not determined, some tests may be done to find out the cause of alopecia or hair loss.
- Hair analysis The health professional will
need to take a sample of the hair for examination under a microscope.
Scalp samples may be taken as well.
- Blood tests Blood tests may include testing
for conditions such as overactive or underactive thyroid glands.