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Permanent or temporary hair loss can occur for many reasons. Sometimes, hair loss can be reversed, depending on the cause. Follow this chart for more information.

SYMPTOMS DIAGNOSIS SELF-CARE
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1. Is your hair falling out in small patches?


No

Go to Question 3.*

Yes

2. Are these patches red, itchy or oily?


Yes

This type of hair loss can be caused by SEBORRHEA, LICHEN PLANUS or RINGWORM.

See your doctor.


No

Small, coin-sized bald areas may be from ALOPECIA AREATA, an autoimmune disease that causes temporary hair loss.

See your doctor.


*3. Are you a man who has gradually lost hair in the front or on the top of your head and has relatives with similar hair loss?


Yes

You may have classic MALE-PATTERN BALDNESS.

Over-the-counter and prescription medicines are available to treat male-pattern baldness. See your doctor. He or she will determine which treatment is right for you.

No

4. Have you used any chemicals on your hair, or have you worn tight braids or cornrows recently?


Yes

Your hair loss may be from FOLLICULAR DAMAGE.

Tight braids, ponytails or cornrows can break and damage hair. Secure hair with covered rubber bands and try not to style it too tightly. Discontinue the use of harsh chemicals on the hair and scalp, which can also result in hair loss.

No

5. Are you taking any new medicines, or are you being treated for cancer?


Yes

Hair loss may be a side effect of MEDICINES, STEROIDS or CHEMOTHERAPY.

Discuss these treatments with your doctor.

No

6. Have you been weak, tired or anxious?


Yes

You may have IRON or ZINC DEFICIENCY, THYROID DISEASE or excess STRESS.

See your doctor.

No

7. Are you a woman who is older than 50, or who has given birth within the last three months?


Yes

HORMONE CHANGES may cause hair loss in women. If your hair loss has occurred gradually with advancing age, FOLLICULAR DEGENERATION may be the cause.

Post-pregnancy hormone changes usually reverse themselves without any treatment. While follicular degeneration cannot be reversed, gentle hair care may prolong the life of follicles.

No
For more information, please talk to your doctor.  

This tool has been reviewed by doctors and is for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. The information in this tool should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Always consult your family doctor with questions about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances. Source: American Academy of Family Physicians. Family Health & Medical Guide. Dallas: Word Publishing; 1996.

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