I get a lot of emails asking for advice about finding a doctor who will listen and help with hair loss or shedding issues. People often ask questions like: “is there a type of doctor who specializes in hair loss?” or “how do I find a doctor who will take this shedding seriously because I can’t stand this any longer?” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
Ruling Out Medical Causes For Your Hair Loss Or Shedding: The reason that you may eventually want to just run this by a doctor is that although the majority of people with hair issues have them for genetic reasons, there are medical issues and medications that can negatively effect your hair also. If your hair isn’t changing for the better and / or isn’t responding to treatment, then you may want to check your hormones (thyroid, adrenal, sex, etc.), iron levels, autoimmune markers, and cortisol levels just to name a few. Most general practitioners can and will handle this and if the work up is done by your primary care, then often insurance will cover it.
But, I have to tell you that most people hit a dead end here. The “normal limits” for most tests and blood work is very broad. You could well be in what is normal range for the general population but is not a normal range for you.
Endocrinologists: Many people will make the next stop at an endocrinologist to rule out conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), hypothyroidism, graves disease, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue / failure and other endocrine disorders.
Rheumatologists: Many folks with hair loss will eventually consider autoimmune disorders like lupus or AA (alopecia areata) as a cause of the issue. It’s generally a rheumatologist who can test for these things and rule them out. Some (myself included) believe that so called “soft” autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or interstitial cystitis can also be culprits.
Gynecologist / Anti Aging Doctors: Women in particular will often turn to their ob / gym to try to balance or boost their hormones as these fluctuations can often cause shedding or a thinning out of the hair. Many feel that anti aging doctors are more receptive to this. Here’s what I’ve experienced as the problem with this. When you’re a shedder and you’re a woman, it’s often because you’re hormonally vulnerable meaning your body can not tolerate even small changes. So, experimenting with or adding hormones can sometimes back fire and make the problem worse.
Dermatologists: Many people turn to dermatologists for androgen or hereditary hair loss and thinning or for problems with the scalp that is contributing to the loss.
Neuropaths: This is often where people turn in frustration because traditional physicians often are perceived as unsympathetic, hurried, or not interested as this is perceived as not a life threatening condition. Many will look at you, reassure you that you look normal, give the test, find normal limits and tell you not to stress so much. Neuropaths are said to take more time, but they aren’t typically covered by insurance and many take a “try this and see” approach.
Trichologists: These guys are physicians that specialize in hair loss. However, you have to be careful here because many of these are tied into hair restoration clinics that perform hair replacement surgery. This is a solution for some, but many people see this as a last resort. Still, if you can find a good one, it can be worth the trip.