Hereditary Hair LossHome / Hair Loss / Hereditary Hair Loss
Hair loss that is genetic is known as androgenetic alopecia and is the most common cause of hair loss. The gene can be inherited from either your mother's or father's side of the family, though you're more likely to have it if both of your parents had hair loss. Hereditary hair loss is not really a disease, but a natural condition caused by some combination of genetics, hormone levels and the aging process.
The symptoms: Women with this trait tend to develop thinning at the hairline behind the bangs, says Beverly Hills Hair Restoration surgeon, Dr. John Kahen, MD. The condition develops slowly and may start as early as your early 20s. You may be vulnerable if your mother also has this pattern of thinning. In some cases, the hair loss may be diffuse, meaning it's spread across the entire scalp.
The tests: Your dermatologist will examine the pattern of hair loss to determine if it's hereditary and may order blood work to rule out other causes, Dr. Kahen says. Sometimes, hair transplant surgeons can also do the scalp biopsy if they offer the service in their office as Dr. Kahen has available. A biopsy of your scalp is sometimes done to see if the hair follicles have been replaced with miniaturized follicles, a surefire sign of hereditary hair loss.
What you can do: Slow the hair loss by applying minoxidil (Rogaine) to the scalp twice a day. The drug works on both women and men, although women should use a lower-strength formula to prevent unnecessary side effects. Women should not use minoxidil if they are pregnant or nursing. Men may be treated with finasteride (Propecia), an oral medication, which Dr. Kahen often prescribes to patients with hereditary hair loss who are good candidates for the drug. Additionally, hair vitamins such as Biotin can also aid hair growth when taken consistently.