When you are young, it’s easy to walk around as if nothing can ever go wrong in your life. Although you had acne for a few months as a teen, you got through that. Now the rest of your life is going to be smooth sailing. So what if there are a few extra hairs in your comb or caught in the drain after you finish your shower. This is nothing to worry about. Except the sad reality is that anyone, no matter what their age or gender, can lose their hair. It can be heredity, caused by some underlying medical condition, a side effect of a drug you are taking. The list goes on. Unless you are taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of hair loss, you need guidance on when to seek a formal diagnosis. Too early and you wasted your money because your doctor could find nothing wrong. Too late and there’s little chance of any treatment helping the hair to regrow. For the record, male pattern baldness can begin during your teens and this is permanent hair loss. Why permanent? Because the growth cycle shortens and every time you shed your hair, it grows back thinner and more likely to fall out. As this speeds up, your hair stops regrowing and there’s no cure.
This is what to think about. At some point, you will notice more hair than usual is falling out. Make a note of the date. If possible, get someone in the family or a friend to take pictures of your head so you can monitor any changes to the shape of the hair. Then watch what happens. Is the loss only occasional or is it continuous? If you have good days and bad days, think about what you eat and what you did. Is there a cause and effect at work? In particular, look for anything that might make the loss worse. Now look around the family. If you are cut off from most of your relatives, ask if there is any history of hair loss on either side of the family.
This gives you enough information about the emerging physical pattern and the rate of loss to share with your doctor. There will be a physical examination of your scalp to judge the appearance of your hair, e.g. whether any hairs are broken off. There is usually a pull test to see how many come out, and skin samples taken to eliminate the possibility of an infection. There will also be a review of your medical history and general wellness to identify any underlying problems such as thyroid disease that may be causing the loss. If this is simple male pattern baldness, the standard treatment is propecia. This is taken once-daily and, over time, slows loss and encourages some regrowth. The benefits are lost and hair loss will resume if you stop taking propecia. Some commitment to continuing treatment is necessary. More generally, there are preventative measures in changing the way you handle your hair and modifying your diet. Your doctor or dermatologist will advise on how to minimize the effects of hair loss.
The article offers advice on when to seek an appointment to confirm the diagnosis of hair loss.