Hair loss, or alopecia, has a number of causes. The cause may have to do with genetics, ethnic background, diet, lifestyle, grooming practices, underlying health problems, local scalp problems and more. Some types of hair loss are reversible. Some types are not. How one treats hair loss depends on why one has it. It is for this reason that it is important to correctly diagnose what kind of hair loss someone has before one embarks on a treatment plan.
As the diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair and nail problems is the foundation of dermatology, a board-certified dermatologist is generally the most experienced in caring for people with hair loss. Some causes of hair loss can be determined with history and physical examination. Sometimes, however, even a hair expert needs more information. This is when a punch biopsy of the scalp is helpful. By taking a pencil-eraser sized piece of skin from the affected area of the scalp, and sending it to an experienced dermatopathologist who looks at it under the microscope, a more accurate diagnosis can sometimes be obtained. Getting a scalp biopsy is particularly helpful when trying to diagnosis scarring alopecia, which is permanent hair loss. Sometimes, even for an expert, it is challenging to know which of several conditions is causing scarring alopecia just by looking at it.
Do you want to know more about hair loss? Listen to Dr. Strachan’s interview with Modern Aesthetics magazine: https://modernaesthetics.com/series/modern-aesthetics-journal-club/video.asp?f=diagnosis-and-management-of-hair-loss
Do I need a scalp biopsy to diagnosis why I have hair loss?- Musings of an NYC Dermatologist