Hair Loss

Medical Dermatology

Hair loss, also known as alopecia, has a variety of causes, many of which can be successfully treated by a dermatologist.  The two primary types of hair loss are non-inflammatory, in which the scalp in asymptomatic and minimal skin changes are noted on the surface, and inflammatory, in which the scalp is often red, itchy, tender, or scaling.

Non-inflammatory Hair Loss

Non-inflammatory alopecia is the most common type with hereditary hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia or pattern baldness, making up most cases.  As many as 80 million people in the US are affected by this type of hair loss.  The other common type of non-inflammatory hair loss is called telogen effluvium.  This is a diffuse shedding of hair that usually takes place after an intense stress on the body.  Triggers for telogen effluvium include emotional stress, illness, medications, surgery, childbirth, and weight loss.  

Inflammatory Hair Loss

Inflammatory hair loss has many more causes.  Alopecia aerate is a condition in which the immune system puts the hair follicles into a resting phase, leading to discreet, random patches of hair loss.  Infections of the scalp, particularly ringworm, can cause hair loss.  Inflammatory autoimmune disease such as lupus can often affect the hair.  Finally, aggressive hair care practices including straightening and tight braids can damage the hair follicles, leading to hair loss.  


Many types of hair loss can be successfully treated by a dermatologist.  Depending on the type of hair loss, their are a variety of treatments including topical solutions, oral pills, injections of steroids, and hair transplantation.  The sooner alopecia can be properly diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes.