Patel said the problem with those treatments is that they have not been subjected to large or head-to-head research. There's great variation in how doctors give the plasma treatments and in laser-based devices, so it's hard for patients to know whether they're getting a proven regimen. Nutrafol seems promising, he said, but he does not think that company-funded research showing its effectiveness has been replicated. He has not recommended it yet.
We've heard it all before: clients waking up one day in shock after discovering a coin-sized bald spot on their heads; women agonizing over the strands of hair they see on the shower floor; men looking for topical creams and shampoos to prevent the early onset of balding. Even more are tales of men and women on the search for the perfect wig or toupee to cover up the loss of their hair as a result of medication for a chronic illness.
Patients with hair loss will often consult their family physician first. Hair loss is not life threatening, but it is distressing and significantly affects the patient's quality of life. The pattern of hair loss may be obvious, such as the bald patches that occur in alopecia areata, or more subtle, such as the diffuse hair loss that occurs in telogen effluvium. As with most conditions, the physician should begin the evaluation with a detailed history and physical examination. It is helpful to determine whether the hair loss is nonscarring (also called noncicatricial), which is reversible, or scarring (also called cicatricial), which is permanent. Scarring alopecia is rare and has various etiologies, including autoimmune diseases such as discoid lupus erythematosus. If the follicular orifices are absent, the alopecia is probably scarring; these patients should be referred to a dermatologist. This article will discuss approaches to nonscarring causes of alopecia.
Many other women, though, start noticing thinning hair on top of their heads. Doctors say the defining sign is a widening of the part. The hairline itself is usually intact, but the hair becomes less dense behind it. Doctors will often run a battery of tests to make sure there are no treatable medical conditions, such as anemia, thyroid problems, tumors, or hormonal problems. "Ninety percent of the time, it's normal," Patel said.