Alopecia Test, Alopecia Areata Diagnosis, Alopecia Differential Diagnosis
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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; and
  • 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 loss.
  • 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 the hair.
  • 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.

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