Use blood tests to accurately diagnose the cause of your hair loss
Experiencing sudden or gradual hair loss? Blood tests can help determine the cause and guide treatment. Read on to learn how blood work provides insight, helps diagnosis, and monitors hair loss treatment.
- What Causes Hair Loss and How Are the Causes Diagnosed?
- What Blood Tests Help Diagnose Hair Loss?
- Who Should Get Blood Work to Evaluate Hair Loss?
- What Happens After Getting Test Results?
- What is the cause of hair loss?
- How can blood tests help diagnose the cause of hair loss?
- What hormones are typically tested to determine the cause of hair loss?
- Can hair loss in women be diagnosed with blood tests?
- What types of hair loss can blood tests detect?
- What are some signs of hair loss that blood tests can uncover?
- What specific tests are included in a hair loss test panel?
- Can blood tests determine whether hair loss is permanent or temporary?
- Can blood tests also detect scalp and hair conditions that may contribute to hair loss?
- Can excessive hair growth also affect the results of blood tests for hair loss?
Hair loss is incredibly common, affecting up to 80% of women at some point in their lifetime. But losing your hair can be distressing and negatively impact self-esteem. Fortunately, with an accurate diagnosis, many types of hair loss are treatable. Blood tests are a key diagnostic tool and can identify underlying conditions causing hair thinning or loss. This allows treatment to begin promptly, along with lifestyle and dietary modifications to support hair regrowth.
What Causes Hair Loss and How Are the Causes Diagnosed?
There are various reasons why people lose hair. Hair loss may be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause. Common causes include:
- Androgenetic alopecia - This genetic condition, also called male or female pattern baldness, leads to gradual hair thinning and loss. It's linked to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that damages hair follicles. Blood tests help diagnose it by measuring hormone levels.
- Telogen effluvium - Temporary increased shedding caused by stress, illness, nutrient deficiency, medications, or hormonal changes like pregnancy. Blood tests can identify contributing factors like thyroid imbalance.
- Alopecia areata - An autoimmune disease causes hair to fall out in patches. Blood tests help diagnose by detecting antibodies.
- Thyroid disorders - Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can trigger hair loss. Thyroid hormone levels show if this gland is involved.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - High male hormones in women lead to hair thinning. Blood tests reveal elevated androgens.
- Iron deficiency anemia - Low iron reduces hair follicle growth. Blood shows decreased ferritin and hemoglobin.
- Medications - Blood tests reveal drug side effects.
Blood work provides vital data to determine the cause and guide treatment. Testing also monitors progress during hair loss therapy.
What Blood Tests Help Diagnose Hair Loss?
Doctors may order different blood panels and tests based on symptoms and medical history. Common diagnostic blood tests include:
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This checks levels of blood cells like red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It helps diagnose anemia and identify issues like iron deficiency,which can trigger hair loss.
This detects thyroid hormone levels. Abnormal results can show hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, thyroid diseases which often cause hair thinning.
Elevated testosterone in women points to androgen-related hair loss. High levels in men may also accelerate male pattern baldness.
This test reveals elevated male hormones, which lead to thinning hair in women with PCOS.
Low ferritin or iron indicates iron deficiency anemia, a causative factor in hair loss.
Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA)
A positive result indicates an autoimmune disease like alopecia areata.
Examining scalp tissue helps diagnose scarring alopecia and other conditions.
In addition to testosterone, testing reproductive hormones helps diagnose PCOS-related hair loss in women. Thyroid hormones should be evaluated in men and women.
Who Should Get Blood Work to Evaluate Hair Loss?
Blood tests are recommended for anyone experiencing sudden or rapid hair shedding or unexplained thinning hair. They are especially advised for:
- Women with diffuse hair loss
- Women with male-pattern hair loss
- Men with unusually early or severe male pattern baldness
- Anyone with hair loss in patches or unusual patterns
- Individuals with symptoms like fatigue and weight changes along with hair loss
- People with known thyroid disorders, anemia, or autoimmune conditions
- Women with irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation issues
- Anyone with family history of autoimmune disease, thyroid disorder, or hair loss
Since hair loss can result from vitamin/mineral deficiency, blood tests may also be ordered to check levels of iron, vitamin D, zinc, and B vitamins.
What Happens After Getting Test Results?
With test results pinpointing any underlying conditions, doctors can make an accurate hair loss diagnosis and outline appropriate treatment options.
- Thyroid dysfunction is treated with medication to normalize thyroid hormones.
- Iron deficiency anemia can be corrected with iron supplementation.
- PCOS may be treated with anti-androgens, oral contraceptives, or metformin.
- Male and female pattern baldness may be treated with minoxidil, laser devices, or DHT blockers like finasteride.
- Corticosteroid injections can help regrow hair in alopecia areata.
- Scarring alopecia may require immunosuppressants.
- Hair loss from nutrient deficiency is treated through diet changes or supplements.
Doctors also provide guidance on starting medications like minoxidil and finasteride. They highlight the importance of nutrients for hair health by recommending supplements or foods high in iron, zinc, vitamin D, and B vitamins. Ongoing testing helps monitor hormone levels, anemia, and autoimmune disease activity during treatment. Blood tests provide key data for optimal hair loss management.
- Blood testing is an essential diagnostic tool to uncover the underlying reason for abnormal hair loss.
- Key blood tests check hormone levels, thyroid function, autoimmune antibodies, iron, ferritin, and blood cell counts.
- Diagnosing the cause of hair shedding allows specific treatments to begin promptly.
- Doctors may order blood tests for those with sudden/excessive hair loss, unusual patterns of balding, or other symptoms.
- Blood work also monitors progress during medical treatment and helps optimize nutritional intake for hair health.
Don't struggle with hair loss without identifying the reason. See your doctor for the appropriate blood tests. Accurate diagnosis gets you on the right treatment path to stop hair loss and stimulate healthy regrowth!
What is the cause of hair loss?
Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors, such as hormonal imbalances, genetics, certain medical conditions, and medications.
How can blood tests help diagnose the cause of hair loss?
Blood tests can analyze various hormone levels and nutrient deficiencies that may contribute to hair loss. They can also detect underlying medical conditions.
What hormones are typically tested to determine the cause of hair loss?
Hormones commonly tested for hair loss include thyroid hormones, testosterone, DHEA, and various female hormones.
Can hair loss in women be diagnosed with blood tests?
Yes, blood tests can help identify hormonal imbalances in women that may lead to hair loss.
What types of hair loss can blood tests detect?
Blood tests can help identify various types of hair loss, including pattern hair loss, telogen effluvium, and alopecia areata.
What are some signs of hair loss that blood tests can uncover?
Blood tests can reveal signs of hair loss, such as abnormal levels of hormones, nutrient deficiencies, and inflammatory markers.
What specific tests are included in a hair loss test panel?
A hair loss test panel may include tests for thyroid function, hormone levels, nutrient deficiencies, and markers of inflammation.
Can blood tests determine whether hair loss is permanent or temporary?
Blood tests can provide insights into the underlying cause of hair loss, which can help determine whether the hair loss is temporary or permanent.
Can blood tests also detect scalp and hair conditions that may contribute to hair loss?
Yes, blood tests can identify certain scalp and hair conditions that may play a role in hair loss, such as scalp infections or autoimmune disorders.
Can excessive hair growth also affect the results of blood tests for hair loss?
Yes, certain conditions that cause excessive hair growth, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can affect the results of blood tests for hair loss.