Hair Fall: Diagnosis, Treatment, And Medications

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Shruti Chavan , MBBS, Dermatologist, Dermatologist
Written by Anjali Sayee

Hair fall can be a traumatic experience for some of us. Finding too many hair strands on your clothes and all over your house can be quite scary. But worry not – some hair fall treatments can help. If you struggle with hair loss issues, this post is for you. Instead of being scared of hair loss, it is time to look for solutions. To find the right treatments, you need to know what is causing your hair loss in the first place. Keep reading to learn what causes hair loss and the treatments you can consider to stop your hair from falling. You also will learn here how you can prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth with some care.

Types Of Hair Fall

1. Androgenic Alopecia

Androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss observed in both men and women around the world. This condition is hereditary and might be managed with medications and surgery. Androgenic alopecia among men is known as male pattern hair loss and among women is known as female pattern hair loss.

2. Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles. This results in patchy hair loss and moreover, the condition also prevents new hair from growing.

This condition can be seen among both adults and children. Hair loss due to alopecia areata might start suddenly without any prior symptoms. People suffering from this condition might find their hair falling in small patches. The condition might also make hair from eyebrows and eyelashes fall as well.

3. Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia

Frontal fibrosing alopecia is a patterned form of scarring hair loss. It happens along the front scalp margin of the hair. In this case, hair does not grow back. In some cases, the eyebrows may lose hair before hair fall on the scalp begins. In men, this form of alopecia is characterized by thinning of scalp hair as well as the beard.

The causes for hair loss might vary. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

What Are The Causes Of Hair Loss?

1. Hereditary

Hereditary hair loss is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Famously known as androgenic alopecia, this condition happens with ageing and affects both male and females. This kind of hair loss occurs over time. Most common symptom of this is a receding hairline and bald spot among men and thinning hair among women.

2. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes in our body may also lead to hair loss which can be permanent or temporary. Hormonal changes that occur due to thyroid issues, PCOS, and several different conditions may cause hair thinning and hair loss among women.

3. Medications

Many medications for blood pressure, depression and heart problems have hair loss as a common side effect. In addition to that, radiation and chemotherapy that is needed to treat cancer has hair loss as one of the major side effects.

4. Stress

Suffering from stress both emotional and physical might also lead to extreme hair loss. However, the good news is that this type of hair loss is temporary and hair often grows back.

5. Weight Loss

If you undergo a sudden weight loss you might also notice an increase in hair fall. This is often because your body undergoes a sudden change and your body not getting the necessary diet that helps in hair growth.

5. Hairstyles And Treatments

If your hair is exposed to excessive heat or chemicals, it might also cause hair loss. Putting your hair in tight ponytails and cornrows might also cause a type of hair fall that is known as traction alopecia.

6. Nutritional Deficiencies

Even inadequate amounts of the right nutrients can cause hair loss. Deficiencies of vitamins B12 and D, iron, protein, and other important amino acids can lead to hair loss.

Let’s take a look at various methods used to diagnose hair fall.

How To Diagnose Hair Fall?

There is no general diagnosis for hair fall. However, if you want to find out what kind of hair loss you are experiencing, you might consult your doctor who in turn will take an in depth look into your diet, hair care routine as well as your family history.

There are some tests that your doctor might recommend that will help them determine the type of hair loss you are experiencing. These are –

  1. Blood Test – A blood test will help in determining if the hair loss you are experiencing is caused due to some underlying medical conditions.
  1. Pull Test – Pull test is done to determine at which stage of shedding process you are in. In this test, the doctor will pull your hair and see how much hair may come out.
  1. Scalp Biopsy – Through scalp biopsy, the doctors examine a sample of your skin or hairs under a microscope. This test helps in determining if the hair loss is caused by any infection.

If you are experiencing hair fall, do not get demotivated. There are various ways in which you can reverse or lessen hair fall. These are discussed briefly in the next section.

Hair Fall Treatments

1. Diet

A healthy diet filled with raw vegetables and fresh herbs might help reduce the effect of androgenic alopecia and also might help in delaying its onset (1). Consuming foods like parsley and basil thrice a week might help in reducing hair loss.

Along with raw vegetables, you should also include protein into your diet, as they might help in preventing hair loss (2). Foods like eggs, beans, fish and chicken are good for your hair.

Vitamin A is another such component that might aid in increasing hair growth (3). It might also help in sebum production that keeps the scalp and hair healthy (4). Foods like sweet potatoes, peppers and spinach are rich in vitamin A.

2. Supplements

Vitamins A, B, C, D, iron, selenium and zinc are some of the important components that help with hair growth and also reduces hair fall (5). Hence, taking supplements of these vitamins and minerals might help in reducing hair fall. Amino acids are also crucial to treat hair fall (6).

3. Hair Care

Washing your hair on a regular basis may help against hair loss. Regularly washing your hair keeps your scalp clean and healthy that might lessen hair fall. However, avoid using hair care products with harsh formulas, as they might damage your hair. Instead opt for organic and natural hair care products.

4. Laser Therapy

According to some studies, low level lasers might help people who suffer from hereditary hair loss and hair loss due to chemotherapy or radiation (7). However, treatment through laser therapy might take several months to show appropriate results.

5. Massage

Scalp massage is a good way to reduce stress and stimulate your scalp for increased blood flow (8). This might help with improving hair growth.

Along with the above mentioned treatments, there are medications available that might help with preventing hair loss.

Medications To Prevent Hair Loss

1. Minoxidil

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that is popular for its hair growth effects. This medication is often used by people suffering from alopecia areata or androgenic alopecia. The medication is available in foam or liquid form.

The medication might cause hair loss upon initial use, however with regular use you will start noticing new hair growth. Keep in mind that it will take almost 6 months or more to see the result from minoxidil. So do not stop using the medication, if you fail to see any initial result.

Although minoxidil is one of the popular hair growth medications, it also has various side effects. Some of them are –

  • Scalp irritation
  • Increased hair growth on different parts of the body like face and hands (though it is more likely to happen with oral minoxidil; as topical minoxidil increases hair growth only on parts it is applied to).

2. Spironolactone

Spironolactone is a great medication that often targets hair loss related to hormonal changes. Many women suffering from female pattern baldness take this medication in order to stop the hair loss and increase hair growth.

However, discuss the benefits and side effects of this medication with your doctor before taking this drug.

3. Tretinoin

Tretinoin is known to promote hair growth (9). It is often used along with minoxidil for the treatment of alopecia areata. However, consult a doctor before deciding to use this medication, as in a few cases use of tretinoin might cause hair loss.

The Takeaway

If you experience a sudden increase in hair fall, it’s better to consult a doctor to determine the exact cause behind it. If you start following any treatment or take any kind of hair loss preventing medication, keep in mind that it might take more than a few months for the treatment to show its effect. Hence, continue to consult your doctor and continue to follow the treatment without losing any hope.

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Dr. Shruti Chavan

( MBBS, Dermatologist)
Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee... more