Can a Dermatologist Help With Hair Loss? Here's Everything You Need To Know

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Are you noticing more strands of hair in your brush than usual? 

Does your scalp seem more visible through your once lustrous locks? 

Hair loss, unfortunately, is a common issue that affects many people, often causing significant emotional distress and a loss of self-esteem. 

But don't let the worry keep you up at night; a professional is waiting to help you—a dermatologist. So, can a dermatologist help with hair loss? Absolutely! 

In this article, we will delve deep into dermatologists' roles in diagnosing and treating hair loss. 

We'll uncover how their expertise can help you restore your hair and confidence. 

Buckle up and prepare to discover a wealth of knowledge that could transform your life.

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Summary

The worry of losing hair may seem overwhelming, but remember that you are not alone in this journey. 

Whether you're dealing with temporary hair shedding or long-term hair loss, a dermatologist can offer a wide range of treatments and strategies to manage your condition. 

From identifying the root cause through detailed analysis, offering medication like Minoxidil or Finasteride, to suggesting advanced procedures such as PRP or hair transplants, your dermatologist can guide you towards restoring your hair and your confidence. 

Don't let hair loss rule your life; reach out to a professional and explore the solutions that await you.

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What causes hair loss?

can a dermatologist help with hair loss

Hair loss is primarily caused by factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, and stress.

Genetics

Genetic hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss. It is an inherited condition that occurs with ageing. 

The disease manifests in both men, leading to male pattern baldness, and in women, causing female pattern hair loss.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or thyroid issues can cause temporary or permanent hair loss. These changes can affect the growth cycle of hair.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can lead to hair loss. Examples include alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder causing patchy hair loss), scalp infections like ringworm, and trichotillomania (a hair-pulling disorder).

Medications

Hair loss can also be a side effect of certain drugs used to treat conditions like cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure.

Stress

Physical or emotional stress can lead to temporary hair loss. This type of hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, usually resolves once the stressor is removed.

How can a dermatologist help with hair loss?

A dermatologist can help with hair loss by diagnosing the underlying cause, providing personalised treatment plans, and monitoring progress. They utilise techniques such as a scalp examination, blood tests, or a biopsy to identify the reason for hair loss. 

Treatments could include topical applications, oral medications, injectable treatments, laser therapy, or surgical options like hair transplantation. 

The dermatologist aims to help manage the condition causing hair loss, slow the loss rate, and promote hair growth wherever possible.

What's a dermatologist's process to help with hair loss?

can a dermatologist help with hair loss

Regardless of the nature of your hair loss, whether hereditary or temporary, a dermatologist initiates the process by conducting a comprehensive physical examination. They will also inquire about your family history to ascertain any genetic predisposition to hair loss. The goal is to understand the complete picture and develop a tailored treatment strategy.

A typical hair loss diagnosis involves a detailed patient history, factoring in potential triggers such as medical issues, medication use, weight fluctuations, pregnancies, surgeries, and recent periods of intense stress. 

Dermatologists also consider hair styling and processing habits that could contribute to the condition.

Depending on the findings from the history and examination, dermatologists may recommend several tests:

  • Scalp biopsy: This procedure often uses a 4mm punch biopsy. Hair is clipped from a small scalp area and numbed using a local anaesthetic. A small tool is then used to extract a tissue core encompassing the deeper skin layers.
  • Pull test: This simple test involves gently pulling on the hair shaft to assess breakage and determine how loosely the hairs are attached.
  • Blood test: A blood test can be conducted to identify any undiagnosed medical conditions contributing to hair loss.
  • Light microscopy: In this test, hairs are plucked and examined at their roots. This helps in identifying the specific type of hair loss.

If the initial findings warrant further investigation, blood work can be ordered to check for anaemia, hormones, and vitamin levels. 

Sometimes, a scalp biopsy may be necessary for a definitive diagnosis. 

With all these findings, a dermatologist can develop a treatment plan targeting the root cause of hair loss.

What might a dermatologist prescribe for hair loss?

Treatment options for hair loss are varied and depend significantly on the root cause of the issue. In instances where inflammation is causing hair loss, topical or injectable cortisone might be used. If hair loss is related to ageing, a variety of topical and oral medications are available. 

For androgenic hair loss linked to age and hormonal changes, prescriptions might include Spironolactone, Finasteride, Dutasteride, or oral Minoxidil. None of these is considered safe during pregnancy.

Spironolactone

Spironolactone, a diuretic commonly used to prevent the body from absorbing excess salt, also maintains stable potassium levels. 

It's usually prescribed for high blood pressure, kidney disease, fluid retention, low potassium levels, liver disease, acne, and hyperaldosteronism. 

Its use extends to hair loss treatment due to its anti-androgenic properties, which counteract the hair loss effects of the male hormone DHT.

Androgenetic alopecia (AGA), often caused by pregnancy, post-pregnancy, or menopause, manifests as thinning around the temples and hair loss on the top of the scalp. 

As a DHT-blocker, Spironolactone can combat this form of hair loss. 

However, this medication can cause unpleasant and sometimes severe side effects, including menstrual changes, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, weight gain, muscle weakness, nausea, confusion, breast swelling, and abnormal blood pressure.

Finasteride and Dutasteride

Finasteride, initially introduced to reduce an enlarged penis, was approved in 1998 to treat male pattern baldness and hair loss. 

The medication is now also prescribed as a hair loss treatment for women as it targets DHT, which can attack and damage hair follicles.

Finasteride and Dutasteride block the conversion of male hormones to the form that causes hair loss. Side effects include breast tenderness, headaches, irregular periods, dizziness, and decreased libido.

Dutasteride is considered stronger than Finasteride and thus carries more side effects. These medications have the risk of birth defects, making them less suitable for women of childbearing age unless no other options work.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil, a vasodilator, increases blood flow to the scalp. It is available in topical form as a foam, liquid, or oral medication. 

While it's not FDA-approved for hair loss, dermatologists often prescribe Minoxidil to stimulate hair growth and address a range of hair disorders, including telogen effluvium and stress-related hair loss. 

However, it's not deemed an effective treatment for postpartum alopecia.

Potential side effects of Minoxidil can include scalp irritation, headaches, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, weight gain, and changes in hair texture and colour.

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Other treatments for hair loss

In addition to pharmaceutical treatments, there are other methods that dermatologists may recommend to help address hair loss.

PRP

can a dermatologist help with hair loss

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a cutting-edge treatment that uses a patient's blood plasma to stimulate hair growth. 

The plasma, rich in growth factors, is injected into the scalp to encourage hair follicles to become more active.

Hair transplant

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure that involves moving hair follicles from one part of the body, usually the sides and back of the head, to the balding or thinning areas. 

It's a more permanent solution that can produce natural-looking results.

Conclusion

The worry of losing hair may seem overwhelming, but remember that you are not alone in this journey. 

Whether you're dealing with temporary hair shedding or long-term hair loss, a dermatologist can offer a wide range of treatments and strategies to manage your condition. 

From identifying the root cause through detailed analysis, offering medication like Minoxidil or Finasteride, to suggesting advanced procedures such as PRP or hair transplants, your dermatologist can guide you towards restoring your hair and your confidence. 

Don't let hair loss rule your life; reach out to a professional and explore the solutions that await you.

FAQs

Can a dermatologist help with all types of hair loss? 

Yes, a dermatologist is well-equipped to deal with all types of hair loss. They can help identify the root cause of your hair loss, whether related to genetics, hormonal changes, stress, medications, or underlying health conditions, and prescribe suitable treatment options.

What can I expect during a dermatological examination for hair loss? 

During a test for hair loss, your dermatologist will thoroughly evaluate your hair and scalp and ask about your medical history, recent stressors, and hair care habits. They may also conduct a 'hair pull' test and recommend additional tests like a scalp biopsy, blood test, or light microscopy, if necessary.

How effective are hair loss medications like Minoxidil and Finasteride? 

The effectiveness of hair loss medications like Minoxidil and Finasteride varies depending on the individual and the underlying cause of hair loss. These drugs have been shown to slow hair loss and stimulate new hair growth in some people. However, they may not work for everyone and may have side effects. Always consult a dermatologist to understand the best treatment for your situation.

Are hair transplants a permanent solution for hair loss? 

Hair transplants can provide a more permanent solution for certain types of hair loss, like male- or female-pattern baldness. In this procedure, hair follicles are moved from an area with dense hair growth to the balding or thinning areas. The success of the process depends on several factors, including the skill of the surgeon and the health of the donor hair follicles.

Is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy safe and effective for treating hair loss? 

PRP therapy is considered a safe and potentially effective treatment option for certain types of hair loss. It uses a patient's blood plasma, rich in growth factors, to stimulate hair follicles and encourage hair growth. However, as with any treatment, results can vary from person to person. It's essential to consult a dermatologist to discuss if PRP is a suitable treatment for your specific type of hair loss.

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.