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Can a Dermatologist Help With Hair Loss?

Alopecia (hair loss) is a common condition for men and women. It can occur anywhere on your body but is most common on your scalp. Our dermatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating the causes of hair loss.

To determine the cause of your hair loss, your dermatologist will follow a number of steps:

  • Ask questions to find out how long you’ve had hair loss.
  • Examine your scalp and skin for visual clues about why you’re losing your hair.
  • Recommend blood tests to check for thyroid function, hormone levels, and vitamin deficiencies.
  • Conduct a biopsy to make a diagnosis.

Using this information, your dermatologist will create a treatment plan to stop your hair loss and potentially regrow your hair.

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Hair Loss Causes

The approximately 100,000 hairs on your scalp cycle through periods of growth and rest. During these cycles, your hair growth may slow or stop, or an excessive amount may fall out. These changes can happen for many reasons:

  • Age and genetics
  • Autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata
  • Cancer treatment
  • Hair care or style (traction alopecia)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Infections
  • Medications
  • Other medical conditions
  • Physical stressors

Signs of Hair Loss

Signs of hair loss can happen suddenly or over time. For example, you may notice your hair appears thinner or patchy, or you may find your hair sheds (falls out) more than usual. A normal amount of hair loss ranges from 50­–100 hairs a day, but this can vary. Consult your provider if you consistently shed an excessive amount of hair.

Types of Hair Loss

Both men and women experience hair loss. The most common type, androgenetic alopecia (female or male pattern hair loss), is often passed through families and affects both genders. Men’s hairlines recede, forming an “M” shape and the hair at the top of the head thins, causing baldness. Women’s hair thins where the hair parts and extends from the top of the head. Women usually don’t have receding hairlines or become bald.

Dermatologists classify hair loss in several ways:

  • Telogen effluvium occurs when you shed an excessive amount of hair. This type of hair loss often follows a stressful event like an illness, surgery, childbirth, or significant weight loss. When your body heals or the stress decreases, your hair will usually regrow on its own.
  • Anagen effluvium occurs when your hair stops growing. Depending on the cause, your hair will begin growing again. For example, your hair will usually regrow when you stop chemotherapy or radiation therapy. You may need treatment to prompt hair regrowth in other cases, such as androgenetic alopecia.
  • Scarring alopecia occurs when burns, chemicals, or autoimmune disorders cause inflammation that destroys your hair follicles. Scar tissue replaces the follicles, making it impossible for hair to regrow. This type of hair loss requires treatment to decrease inflammation and limit scarring.

Hair Loss Treatment for Women & Men

Dermatologists treat hair loss in women and men of all ages. They start by finding out what’s causing your hair loss. Then, if an underlying health condition causes it, your dermatologist will guide you to the appropriate treatment. Your dermatologist may also prescribe oral medication to prompt your hair to regrow or to prevent further hair loss. Corticosteroid ointments or injections can reduce inflammation in your scalp if you have scarring alopecia.

Hair Loss Prevention

You cannot prevent some types of hair loss, but you can take steps to avoid others. Healthy lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of hair loss.

  • Avoid hairstyles that pull your hair continuously.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of leafy greens, fortified cereals, whole grains, and vegetables to support hair health.
  • Find ways to reduce your stress levels.
  • Limit using hair products like straighteners that damage your hair and slow hair growth.

Why Choose University of Utah Health?

Hair loss may seem like a simple cosmetic issue, but it can also signal a more serious health problem. Our dermatologists are leaders in the region who specialize in hair loss. We will diagnose the reason for your alopecia and can connect you with our network of experts who treat any complex cause, if needed. We can also recommend specific products, treatments, and medications that aren’t available over the counter.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, call 801-581-2955 or use our online form. You don’t need a referral from your primary care provider to see a medical dermatologist at U of U Health. However, your insurance provider may require a referral. Please review your policy’s requirements before scheduling an appointment.

Providers should submit patient referrals online.

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