While many factors can cause hair loss, genetic or hereditary baldness accounts for the majority of cases. But how can you tell if your hair loss is driven by genetics versus other reasons?
How to Know If Hair Loss is Genetic
Signs your hair loss is genetic include a family history of baldness, patterned thinning concentrated on the top and front of the scalp, and a gradual onset typically starting between puberty and age 40. Blood tests and a clinical evaluation by a dermatologist can help confirm a genetic cause.
If relatives, especially on your mother's side, exhibit similar progressive hair loss patterns, it is likely genetic factors are causing your hair thinning too.
Pattern of Thinning/Balding
Gradual thinning that begins above the temples and on the crown in a characteristic "M" shape points to male or female pattern baldness which are genetic.
Hereditary hair loss often starts between puberty and age 40. If you notice gradual thinning in this timeframe without an identifiable trigger, genetics may be the reason.
Blood Tests & Doctor's Evaluation
Ask your doctor to test your hormone levels, iron stores, thyroid function, and vitamin D. This can help rule out other causes and confirm whether you have genetic pattern baldness.
What Causes Genetic Hair Loss?
Genes linked to hormones regulate your hair growth cycles over time. Two key genetic factors are:
- Androgens - Higher sensitivity leads to follicle miniaturization.
- Age-related changes - Your follicles shrink as you get older.
Genetic Types of Hair Loss
Common genetic causes include:
- Androgenic alopecia - Male/female pattern baldness.
- Telogen effluvium - Shedding triggered by hormonal shifts like childbirth or menopause.
Your family history can indicate which applies to you.
Non-Genetic Causes of Hair Loss
Examples of non-genetic hair loss causes are:
- Thyroid disorders
- Extreme stress
- Autoimmune disease
- Harsh haircare habits
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Certain medications
Your doctor can test for these potential underlying conditions.
How is Genetic Hair Loss Treated?
Options to treat genetic hair loss include:
- Finasteride or spironolactone
- Low level laser devices
- PRP injections
- Hair transplants
Coping with Genetic Hair Loss
While genetic hair loss cannot be cured, coping strategies include:
- Trying hair thickening products and styling tricks
- Embracing your natural hair pattern
- Exploring supplemental hair like topper attachments if desired
The Bottom Line
Look for a family history, patterned thinning concentrated on top of your head and age of onset before 40. See a dermatologist to confirm if your hair loss is genetic and discuss treatment options that can help.
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