Hair loss in women isn't always as straightforward as it is in most men. In men about 90 percent of all cases are caused by hereditary male pattern baldness. In women, however, hair loss can be triggered by a multitude of conditions and circumstances.
The below battery of diagnostic tests should be performed when attempting to pinpoint the hair loss trigger. These tests can at the very least eliminate the possibility of certain disorders causing your hair loss and perhaps aid in finding the actual cause. The truth of the matter is that for many patients these test usually come back with a reading of "within the normal range," but it's important to remember that the proper diagnosis of female hair loss usually starts of with the process of elimination.
Hormone levels (DHEAs, testosterone, androstenedione, prolactin, follicular stimulating hormone, and leutinizing hormone)
Total iron binding capacity (TIBC)
Thyroid stimulating hormone (T3, T4, TSH)
VDRL (a screening test for syphilis)
Complete blood count (CBC)
A small section of scalp usually 4mm in diameter is removed and examined under a microscope to help determine the cause of hair loss.
The hair pull test is a simple diagnostic test in which the physician lightly pulls a small amount of hair (approx 100 simultaneously) in order to determine if there is excessive loss. Normal range is one to three hairs per pull.
The densitometer is a handheld magnification device which is used check for miniaturization of the hair shaft.
Reviewed by Paul J. McAndrews, MD