A complete medical history, family history and physical examination can help in a diagnosis. The pattern and rate of hair loss, the appearance of nearby hairs, and accompanying symptoms are considered when making the diagnosis.
Your doctor may perform blood tests to determine if you have a medical condition that causes hair loss, such as thyroid disease, diabetes or lupus.
Biopsies and samples
During a pull test, several dozen hairs are gently pulled to see how many come out. This helps determine the stage of the shedding process. Scraping samples taken from the skin or from a few hairs plucked from the scalp can help verify whether an infection is causing hair loss. When a diagnosis is difficult to confirm, your doctor may perform a punch biopsy. During this test, the doctor uses a circular tool to remove a small section of your skin's deeper layers.
Mar. 11, 2014
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Feb. 12, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed Feb. 13, 2012.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed Feb. 13, 2012.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Feb. 13, 2012.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 23, 2012.
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