Dermatologist and skin specialist
MBBS with 15+ Years of Experience in Dermatology
WHAT TESTS TO EXPECT WHEN YOU VISIT A DERMATOLOGIST for hair loss?
Hair fall is common when you run your strands through your hair. Don’t worry, it’s common. Yes, hair fall is common but it becomes a concern when you start noticing hair loss? That’s when you need to take matter seriously.
Our scalp can lose up to 100 hair strands a day and compared to the countless strands we have, it’s hardly a loss. That’s because new hair strands replace the ones that fall down within no time. This is called the hair life cycle which lasts up to 3 years for each strand. The growing hair strands are called anagen hair and falling strands are called telogen hair. As long as the anagen hair strands predominate its normal. Problem arises when there are more telogen hairs.
But are you noticing more than normal hair fall? Maybe clumps of hair in your hairbrush after combing your hair, or even large amount of hair in your drain? This is what Hair Loss looks like.
You may not have noticed hair thinning, hairless patches or even baldness in certain areas, but it can be the onset of Hair Loss.
SO HOW DOES ONE KNOW IF THEY ARE HAVING EXCESSIVE HAIR FALL
OR OTHERWISE KNOWN AS HAIR LOSS?
Hair Loss is one of those conditions that can come to be suddenly. In earlier times, it used to be a common condition in people who have crossed the threshold of forty years of age. But with our haphazard lifestyle, hair loss is often seen in kids as young as six to as old as forty.
But there is hope. Hair Loss or otherwise known as Excessive Hair fall can be identified with a number of symptoms and signs.
Let's have a look at few signs -
HAIR THINNING AT THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD
The most common hair loss condition that comes with age is Hair Thinning. This often begins with a receding hairline – especially in women. It typically can be noticed with a broadening forehead and it can continue to grow if not catered to in time.
PATCHES OF BALDNESS
Ever noticed some people having bald patches most commonly at the centre of their head, or beard, sometimes even eyebrows? That usually comes to be with bad hair hygiene and your scalp’s skin becoming itchy – leading to excess hair fall.
SCALING PATCHES ACROSS THE SCALP
Ringworm. Yes, this is a sign of ringworm, that causes your hair health to deteriorate. You might witness weak broken hair, redness, swelling and sometimes oozing at these scaly patches across your scalp.
FULL HAIR LOSS
Did you know, you can lose hair all across your body? This could be a result of heavy medicines being taken for a while.
WHEN TO SEE A DERMATOLOGIST?
If you’re feeling tormented by Hair Loss over a period of time, we suggest ending this misery by visiting a Dermatologist. Whether it’s an adult or a kid, a dermat will be able to help you with a significant treatment. For women, it’s best to visit at the earliest, in order to avoid permanent baldness.
WHAT ARE THE TESTS A DERMATOLOGIST WOULD CONDUCT
TO DETERMINE THE TYPES OF HAIR LOSS?
There are numerous methods a Dermatologist uses to evaluate a patient presenting with symptoms of hair loss. A Dermatologist usually studies the history and symptoms of the patient in details before landing on a hair fall test.
Hair loss tests can be divided into four types:
(A) CLINICAL TESTS
DAILY HAIR COUNTS
If your Dermatologist suggests Daily Hair Counts, they are expecting you to collect the hair shed (shower, sink, floor or brush) in one day. As mentioned earlier, it is normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day, but if it exceeds more than that your doctor would probe further, asking you to do more tests.
HAIR PULL TEST
Another commonly used Hair Loss test is the Hair Pull test. The Dermatologist will ask you to self-conduct a hair pull, where in you would be holding approximately 20-60 hairs firmly between the thumb, index and middle finger from the base of the hair near the scalp. If more than 10 % of the hair are pulled away from the scalp, then it is a positive pull test and indicates active hair shedding.
Like we scan any body part to see the defect or damage that needs to be attended, similarly Dermatologists use a hair fall test method called Trichoscopy. In simple words, it is the Dermatoscopy of the scalp and the hair. By conducting this test at a clinic, the dermat will be able to use the video grab of your scalp scopy to show the disorder to the patient, making it easier for the patient aka you to understand the hair loss type.
(B) MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION OF HAIR
It’s a microscopic digital hair loss test used by your dermatologist to analyse Hair Density, Hair Growth Rate, Hair Diameter and Anagen/Telogen Ratio. A particular area on the scalp is shaved and photographs are taken and then repeated in 3 days with a dye. Digital Photographs are taken at 20-fold magnification and saved for further diagnosis.
LIGHT MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION
It is one of the most common bedside investigations done by Dermatologists to identify the various Hair Loss Disorders. Hair strands are plucked from the concerned area and mounted on the slide for microscopic analysis. The 2cm of hair that’s gathered can prove to be a Dry Mount or Wet Mount (for fungal infections).
An electron Microscopy is usually conducted by Dermatologist to minutely dive into the Hair Loss problem. The hair extracted is stained with heavy metals which then improves the visibility of the hair and enables the Dermat to diagnose the type of hair loss better.
(C) SCALP BIOPSY
A scalp biopsy is usually done by a Dermatologist in all cases of Cicatricial/Scarring Alopecia and those cases of Non-Cicatricial Alopecia that haven’t been diagnosed yet.
For Cicatricial/Scarring Alopecia –
A standard Hair Loss test is conducted with a 4 mm punch biopsy, including the subcutaneous fat ensuring the entire follicular unit has been included, under a local anaesthesia using lignocaine with 1:100,00 adrenaline to keep the field clear while performing it.
For Non Cicatricial Alopecia –
The Dermatologist does a Scalp Biopsy from the border of the lesion, especially where the hair loss is progressive.
(D) BLOOD INVESTIGATIONS
Blood test for hair fall is conducted by a Dermatologist for critical conditions associated with it such as Iron Deficiency Anaemia, Thyroid Hormone Disorder and PCOS.
HOW DO THE TESTS HELP?
A dermatologist always suggests Hair Loss tests in order to diagnose the condition better, hence providing a more effective solution to your excessive hair fall condition. A lot of times, a hair fall test helps is understanding your scalp and ensuring the condition is treated at its budding stage before it’s irrevocable. We suggest getting your excessive hair fall or Hair Loss condition diagnosed by a certified Dermatologist at the earliest.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE REPORTS TO ARRIVE?
Now that you know what to expect when you go to a Dermatologist for Hair Loss, we suggest booking an appointment as quick as you can. Till then, using an anti-hair fall and nourishing shampoo that is mild on your scalp could help reduce the hair damage and frizz further. In this case, we recommend the Pantene Hair fall Control Range.
Follow the shampoo + conditioner routine, be gentle with your hair and let your Dermatologist lead you to the right hair fall solution. For more hair care tips from experts, read on!
Hair care problems are varied for different people, so your hair care products should also be so. Take a look at our diverse range of Pantene Shampoos
and Pantene Conditioners
and pick your choice!