Hair Loss and Alopecia: When Should I See a Dermatologist?
For so many of us, our hair is a major part of our identity. Whether you enjoy styling your hair a certain way, change it up on the regular, or prefer no hair at all, having control over this part of our appearance can give us confidence. This is in part why hair loss causes some people a great deal of stress. It’s one thing to purposely get rid of your hair, but another to have it taken away from genetic and/or environmental forces.
The medical term for hair loss is alopecia, and it comes in many forms. Alopecia areata, for instance, is an autoimmune condition that causes certain hair follicles to fall away in large clumps. And androgenic alopecia is simply male or female pattern baldness, a common condition that often sets in as people age.
While there is currently no cure for any form of alopecia, there are several ways to treat various forms of hair loss and mitigate their effects. Of course, treating your hair loss effectively begins by understanding what’s causing it in the first place. And in order to do that, you should see a dermatologist. If you’re reluctant to seek medical help, or you’re not sure it’s even necessary for your situation, here are some scenarios in which you should see a dermatologist.
If You Start Suddenly Losing Hair
As previously mentioned, there are many types of alopecia, and some are more or less aggressive and visceral than others. Male pattern baldness, for example, is typically a gradual process that takes decades to fully develop. On the other hand, some forms of hair loss come on quickly, often causing the patient to panic. In order to ease your mind and get to the bottom of this sudden hair loss, it helps to see your dermatologist. They will carefully inspect your hair follicles, ask you relevant questions, and conduct certain tests to determine what’s causing your alopecia.
If Your Hair Loss is Accelerating
Some individuals are diagnosed with a form of alopecia at an early age, but their hair loss remains relatively consistent or minor from that point on. If, however, your alopecia symptoms begin to worsen, see your dermatologist. This change in your condition may be related to a change in your hormone levels, a disease, immune malfunction, etc. Determining the reason(s) behind this acceleration can help you better treat your alopecia and discover other underlying issues that need addressing.
If You’re Concerned About Your Hair’s Health in Any Way
Even if you’re not losing a significant amount of hair, if you’re concerned about your hair’s health in general, or you think you’re seeing signs of alopecia, go see your dermatologist. They might end up telling you that your hair is in great shape, in which case you will leave with some peace of mind. Or, they might indeed find something worth addressing and deliver an early diagnosis, making it easier to treat your condition, whatever it may be. It’s better to be safe and confident than sorry and anxious.
How Do Dermatologists Examine Hair Loss?
Once one has decided to visit their dermatologist to check their hair, what goes on, exactly? A dermatologist will often begin by checking the patient’s hair overall and honing in on specific areas of hair loss. They will also examine the patient’s nails, as the condition of these features may signal problems elsewhere. All the while, your dermatologist will ask questions related to your lifestyle, nutrition, skincare, and haircare in particular (i.e. which shampoo do you use, how often do you use it, etc.).
If, after these steps, your dermatologist can’t make a determination regarding alopecia causes, they might perform a blood test to further examine your body’s health and look for other diseases related to the immune system. They might also conduct a scalp biopsy to check for infection.
Treating Your Alopecia
By seeing a dermatologist for your hair loss, you can receive the best possible treatment for your specific condition. Medications like Minoxidil (Rogaine), Finasteride (Propecia), or certain contraceptives can slow down hair loss in some cases. Surgical options like hair transplants are another way to regain hair in lacking areas. And in recent years, certain laser therapies have been shown to potentially improve hair density. Speak with your dermatologist to find the right options for you.
If you’re concerned about your hair loss and don’t know where to turn, Premier Dermatology Partners will give you the help you need. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.