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When should I call my doctor if I have hair loss?

Hair loss can be a sign of male-pattern baldness, a fungal infection or something more serious, such as a thyroid condition. If you have hair loss that you feel is abnormal, it's best to see your doctor about it, especially if you notice a rash or pain on your scalp. These symptoms could be due to infection and need treatment. 
It depends on what type of hair loss, or alopecia, you have. The most common type in men is male pattern baldness, which is related to hormones and usually runs in families. In women, the most common type is female pattern baldness; it runs in families, too, and may be related to hormone changes that happen around menopause. Other types of hair loss include alopecia areata (caused by the body's immune system) and medication-related hair loss. Some medical conditions, such as ringworm infections and lupus, can also cause hair loss.

Most of the time, hair loss does not need treatment, except for cosmetic purposes. But you should call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Sudden or unexplained hair loss
  • Large amounts of hair loss
  • Hair loss with itching, redness or pain
  • Hair loss with other symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue or swollen lymph nodes
  • Hair loss that may be related to a medication
  • Hair loss that bothers you, or affects your ability to enjoy life and relationships

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.