Hair Loss: When to seek medical help?

By  , Expert Content
Aug 28, 2012

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Hair loss may occur gradually or progress rapidly. It may occur as a generalised thinning or only in one area, which is called focal hair loss. With inherited hair loss (or male pattern baldness), men develop bald spots around the forehead or on the top of the head by their twenties or thirties. As hair forms an important part of appearance, significant hair loss can become bothersome and therefore, lead to loss of self-esteem and feeling unattractive, especially in women and teens.

Consult a doctor for hair loss if:

  • your hair loss is severe and progressive rather than gradual
  • you are losing hair in large amounts during combing or brushing, or if your hair becomes thinner or falls out.
  • you are worried that some medicine that you are taking or some other medical condition may be causing your hair loss.
  • you develop rash, redness, scaliness or any change in the skin on your scalp
  • you develop signs of bacterial/fungal infection on your scalp, such as:


  1. pain and tenderness (pain on touch)
  2. swelling, redness, tenderness or heat
  3. red streaks extending from the area
  4. discharge of any kind, such as that of fluid or pus.
  5. fever (>100°F or 37.8°C) with no other cause.


  • you experience sudden loss of patches of hair
  • you experience complete loss of all hair on the body
  • you notice patches of broken hair and incomplete hair loss on the scalp and/or eyebrows.
  • you notice gradual thinning of hair and balding and want to know what can be done to prevent or slow down further hair loss and improve hair growth.

Watchful Waiting

You may wait for a period of time during which you and your doctor observe the symptoms or condition without any treatment and find out if your hair loss is gradual (such as men with male pattern baldness). If, however, your hair loss (even if gradual and mild) is bothersome, discuss with your doctor about treatment options that may slow it or promote  hair growth on the scalp. Hair loss due to alopecia areata is self limiting in many cases. Watchful waiting is an option if your doctor diagnoses this as the cause of your hair loss.

Who to consult

Some health professionals, who can be consulted for advice and treatment on hair loss include:

  • family medicine doctors.
  • internists.
  • physician assistants.
  • nurse practitioners.
  • dermatologists (doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of disease of skin).

If you need hair transplant surgery, it is usually done by:

  • dermatologists.
  • plastic surgeons.



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