Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Hair Disorders

There are many causes of hair loss, each resulting in a different pattern and causing different symptoms. Causes may include:

  • Aging
  • Heredity (family history of baldness)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Severe illness
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Auto-immune disorders
  • Infections, such as ringworm
  • Medications, including anabolic steroids and birth control pills
  • Chemotherapy
  • Burns and trauma
  • Eating disorder or other nutritional deficiency
  • Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder)
  • Tight hairstyles
  • Shock
  • Stress

Diagnosing hair disorders

Diagnosing your hair loss begins with a physical examination of your scalp and a complete medical history, including family history of hair loss, diet, hairstyles and medications. Tests may include:

  • Hair analysis: This test checks for dietary deficiencies or chemical imbalances.
  • Scalp biopsy: A small sample of the skin on your scalp can be tested for underlying autoimmune disease or infections.
  • Blood test: A sample of your blood will be analyzed in a lab for thyroid disease, hormonal imbalances and other causes of hair loss.

Diagnostic Tests

Legal Information

By clicking on these websites, you are leaving the Northwestern Medicine website. These websites are independent resources. Northwestern Medicine does not operate or control the content of these websites. By visiting these websites, you agree to this third party’s terms of use for their website.