Hair loss (alopecia) is a fairly common condition. Although it is more common in older adults, anyone can experience it, including children.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 50 to 100 hairs per day it is normal to lose hair. Since there are about 100,000 hairs on your head, this small loss is not noticeable. New hair normally replaces the lost hair, but this does not always happen.

Hair loss can develop gradually over years or occur suddenly. Depending on the underlying cause, it can be temporary or permanent.

Trying to tell if your hair is actually falling out or if you are just experiencing normal hair loss? Not sure if it is time to see a doctor? Read on for more information about hair loss and how to manage it.

Symptoms of hair loss

The main symptom of alopecia is more hair loss than usual, but this can be harder to detect than you might think.

The following symptoms may provide some clues:

What causes hair loss?

There are several main types of hair loss, each with different underlying causes.

Androgenic alopecia

Androgenic alopecia refers to inherited hair loss, such as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness. It is the most common cause of hair loss and affects up to 50 percent of peopleTrusted Source.

Hair loss related to androgenic alopecia tends to occur gradually. Some people may experience hair loss during puberty, while others may not notice symptoms until their middle age, between 6 and 11 years.

Female pattern baldness usually results in thinning all over the scalp. It may also look like enlargement or thinning around the part. Male pattern baldness typically involves progressive hair loss above the temples and thinning at the crown of the head, forming an "M" shape.

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a type of sudden hair loss caused by emotional or physical shock, such as a traumatic event, a period of extreme stress or a serious illness.


Tinea capitis, also called ringworm of the scalp, is a fungal infection that can affect the scalp and hair shaft. It causes small bald patches that are scaly and itchy. Over time, these patches increase in size.

What are the treatment options for hair loss?

There are a number of treatment options for hair loss, but the best option for you will depend on what is causing the hair loss.

Medicines will probably be the first course of treatment.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines usually consist of topical creams, gels, solutions or foams that you apply directly to the scalp. The most common products contain an ingredient called minoxidil.

Prescription medicines such as finasteride (Propecia) can help, especially for male pattern baldness. You take this medicine daily to slow hair loss, but some people experience new hair growth while taking finasteride.

If the hair loss appears to be related to an autoimmune condition, your clinician may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids.

Medical procedures

If medication does not help, your healthcare professional may recommend one of the following procedures.

Hair transplant surgery

Hair transplant surgery involves moving tiny plugs of skin, each containing a few hairs, to the bald parts of your scalp.

This works well for people with hereditary baldness, as they typically lose hair on the top of the head. As some hair loss can be progressive, you may need more than one procedure over time.