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What Is the Best Doctor for Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Grace Gallagher

Published 09/17/2017

Updated 01/06/2024

It’s usually pretty easy to figure out which doctor you need to see. If your eyes are getting worse (darn blue light!), you call your optometrist’s office. And if your Achilles tendon is acting weird after an intense game of flag football, off to the podiatrist you go.

But if you’re experiencing male pattern baldness or thinning hair, it’s not always immediately clear who or what is the best doctor for hair loss.

Well, if you’re looking for a doctor for balding, you’ll actually want to see the same doctor you go to for acne or a weird mole: a dermatologist. But not just anyone — ideally, you’ll see a dermatologist specializing in hair loss. 

Below, we’ll break down what a hair loss doctor does, why you might want to see one and what you can do to help prevent hair loss.

You can’t sprain your hair, and it doesn’t bleed, so why do you need a hair doctor?

A hair loss doctor is someone who helps you get to the root of why you’re losing hair. Based on the potential cause, they can offer solutions for keeping your existing hair and maybe even promoting regrowth.

For example, if you recently experienced a stressful or traumatic event, your hair loss could be what’s known as telogen effluvium, a type of temporary hair loss that alters the hair growth cycle.

More likely, your hair loss is male pattern baldness (aka androgenetic alopecia). This is the most common cause of hair loss in men, affecting as many as 50 percent of men by age 50, a percentage that grows with age (and of course, it can start well before the big five-oh).

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Male pattern baldness is often hereditary, in which case it has to do with the male steroid hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

We’ll save the nuts and bolts of that topic for another day. But long story short — we mean it, unlike everyone who usually says that — DHT is converted to testosterone, which shortens the hair growth cycle and causes hair follicles to shrink (known as hair miniaturization).  

DHT is important in puberty, but after its work is done there, it’s pretty useless. In adults, DHT’s function is pretty much confined to prostate enlargement or hair loss. 

A hair loss doctor can determine whether you’re experiencing hereditary hair loss, a hormonal imbalance or something like alopecia areata — when your immune system attacks hair follicles. They’ll look at your medical history and lifestyle to help you find the most effective treatment.

We’ve established that hair loss specialists are dermatologists who help figure out what type of hair loss you have. How exactly do they do that? It’s more than just vibes.

Here are some strategies and tests a healthcare provider may use to determine what’s causing your hair loss.

The Norwood Scale

Experts assess the severity of hair loss using the Norwood scale — a seven-type scale that goes from a full hairline to severe, horseshoe-pattern hair loss. In the first few stages, the hair on your scalp might still be thick, but your hairline may show visible signs of recession.

If you’ve noticed your hairline getting thinner, higher and more M-shaped, it’s best to make an appointment with a doctor who specializes in hair loss.

Blood Tests

Many hair loss doctors use blood testing to check for medical conditions that can cause hair thinning and hair loss, such as thyroid disease, certain autoimmune disorders or nutritional deficiencies.

If they find anything, they can steer you toward the right lifestyle changes or medical treatments for your condition.

Scalp Biopsy

If your hair loss has no obvious cause, your hair loss doctor may suggest a scalp biopsy. This procedure involves carefully removing a small piece of skin from your scalp for testing and analysis.

Hair Pull Test

For a hair pull test, your healthcare provider will grasp 20 to 60 hairs at the base of your scalp. They’ll pull on the hairs gently, and if more than 10 percent of the strands are removed from your scalp, it’s generally considered a sign of abnormally high hair shedding.

Bear in mind it’s normal to shed 50 to 100 hairs per day. However, more than this can be a sign of telogen effluvium or other hair loss.

Dermatoscope

Your hair loss doctor may use a dermatoscope. This is essentially a powerful handheld, lighted magnifying device that helps them get a closer look at the scalp and hair follicles.

Check for Skin Disorders

Skin disorders like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis are often found on the scalp. They aren’t known to cause hair loss per se, but they do cause itching — scalp sensitivity and intense scratching are associated with temporary hair loss.

A dermatologist can diagnose a potential scalp fungus (like ringworm) that could directly cause hair loss. The good news is that scalp fungus is treatable with antifungal medication.

DHT Testing

If you have male pattern baldness, your hair loss doctor may recommend a serum DHT test. This checks the total amount of dihydrotestosterone in your bloodstream. 

Lifestyle Questions

Your dermatologist will probably ask about your personal life — not because they want to be friends (sorry) but because these questions help them gain a better understanding of what’s causing your hair loss.

Besides learning about your diet and stress levels, they’ll be curious to know what hair products you use and if you wear tight hairstyles, which could cause hair breakage or hair loss (known as traction alopecia).

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You’re aware you’re losing hair, and now you have a choice to make. Maybe you decide to go the direction of The Rock or Bruce Willis and embrace the bald head, or maybe you want to try and stop your hair loss before it gets worse.

If you’re in camp Stanley Tucci, stop reading and go polish your glorious head.

But you’re in the latter group, here are some signs you may want to see a doctor for hair loss:

  • You have a visible receding hairline

  • Your hair is falling out rapidly and suddenly

  • Your hair loss treatment program isn’t working

  • You’re entering the late stages of hair loss

  • You aren’t losing hair yet but have other concerns

Learn about the potential treatments a hair loss doctor may prescribe below.

Once the hair loss doctor learns the root cause of your hair loss, they’ll likely suggest lifestyle, haircare changes or potentially a prescription hair loss treatment.

Some people may prefer to see a doctor in person, then fill a prescription online (with Hims, perhaps?), which saves the hassle of going to a pharmacy. 

Finasteride and minoxidil are the only two FDA-approved treatments for hair loss. Read on to learn about what medications a hair loss doctor may prescribe and how these treatment options work.

Finasteride

Finasteride (also known by its brand name, Propecia®) is proven to slow hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Finasteride takes DHT down a notch by reducing the amount of DHT circulating in the body.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a topical medication (you probably know it as Rogaine®). It works by moving hair follicles into the growth phase of the hair growth cycle and stimulating blood flow to your scalp.

Minoxidil is approved for men and women (finasteride is currently only FDA-approved for men) and has been used for decades.

We offer a topical minoxidil foam or minoxidil liquid solution at a 5% strength. Both are applied directly to the scalp, so the choice of foam or solution really comes down to personal preference.

However, if you’ve ever experienced a reaction to minoxidil solution, try the foam. It doesn’t contain propylene glycol, an ingredient researchers think may cause irritation.

Finasteride and Minoxidil Combo Spray

Why use one hair loss medication when you can use two together? A 2019 meta-analysis on the efficacy of minoxidil and finasteride found that the combination of finasteride and topical minoxidil was more effective (but just as safe) as using one or the other on its own.

Our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray makes it easy to apply both together.

Hair Transplant

If your goal is a totally full head of hair, your hair loss doctor may discuss procedures to restore your hair. One option is hair transplant surgery, which would be done by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

If you go this route, know that once the surgery is complete, there’s a good chance you’ll have to take finasteride or minoxidil to prevent losing your new hair.

Low-Level Laser Therapy

If you have male pattern hair loss that hasn’t responded well to other treatments, your hair loss doctor might recommend low-level laser therapy — sometimes referred to as low-level light therapy (LLLT).

This type of laser stimulates cellular activity. One study suggested that LLLT may improve non-scarring alopecia (though there was only a small human sample size). Always use an FDA-cleared device when doing LLLT at home.

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are gaining popularity for their role in treating hair loss.

While more research is needed, PRP involves injecting a person’s own blood into specific areas to support healing. The platelets in the blood contain growth factors that may contribute to hair regeneration.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Wondering what doctor to see for hair loss? Here are a few things to know.

  • Dermatology is the study of skin. All dermatologists are knowledgeable about the scalp, but some go through more extensive training to be considered a doctor who specializes in hair loss.

  • It’s important to be realistic about your goals when you see a hair loss doctor. For instance, it might not be possible to completely stop hair loss or have full hair regrowth. Still, hair loss treatment can slow further hair loss.

  • There are many reasons your hair could be thinning or rapidly falling out. But if you’re not an expert, it’s hard to figure out exactly why you’re losing hair.

  • A hair loss doctor will help isolate the cause and make a treatment plan for you. They’ll also brief you on any (usually mild) side effects of hair loss medications or over-the-counter remedies.

Hair loss is frustrating and may take a toll on your confidence, but a hair loss doctor can help you find a solution.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the treatments we mentioned, take a look at our guides to PRP for hair loss and low-level light therapy.

19 Sources

  1. Ho, C., Sood, T., Zito, P. (2022, Oct). Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls Internet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
  2. Kinter K., Anekar A. (2023, March). Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone- StatPearls Internet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  3. Dhurat, R., Saraogi, P. (2009). Hair Evaluation Methods: Merits and Demerits. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2938572/
  4. AAD. (n.d.) Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/shedding
  5. Sonthalia S., Yumeen S., Kaliyadan, F. (Updated 2023, Aug 8). StatPearls [Internet]. Dermoscopy Overview and Extradiagnostic Applications. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537131/
  6. CDC. (Last updated 2020, Aug). Psoriasis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/psoriasis/index.htm
  7. AAD. (n.d.) Seborrheic dermatitis overview. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/seborrheic-dermatitis-overview
  8. Vázquez-Herrera, N., Sharma, D.,Aleid N.F.,Tosti, A. (2018 Aug). Scalp Itch: A Systematic Review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6120392/
  9. Fuller, L. C., Child, F. J., Midgley, G., & Higgins, E. M. (2003). Diagnosis and management of scalp ringworm. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 326(7388), 539–541. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1125423/
  10. Lee, W.S., Juhasz M., Mobasher P., Ekelem C., Mesinkovska N. (2018). A Systematic Review of Topical Finasteride in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia in Men and Women. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6609098/
  11. Zito, P.M., Bistas, K.G., Syed K. (2022, Aug. 25). Finasteride- StatPearls. NCBI Bookshelf. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/
  12. PROPECIA® (finasteride) tablets for oral use. (2011, May). Available from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/020788s020s021s023lbl.pdf
  13. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: A review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy, 13, 2777-2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  14. Nestor, M. S., Ablon, G., Gade, A., Han, H., & Fischer, D. L. (2021). Treatment options for androgenetic alopecia: Efficacy, side effects, compliance, financial considerations, and ethics. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 20(12), 3759-3781. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9298335/
  15. Friedman, E., Friedman, P., Cohen, D., Washenik, K. (2002). Allergic contact dermatitis to topical minoxidil solution: etiology and treatment. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11807448/
  16. Chen, L., Zheng, J., Wang, L., Wang, H., Chen, B. (2019, Nov). The Efficacy and Safety of Finasteride Combined with Topical Minoxidil for Androgenetic Alopecia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://cdn.mednet.co.il/2012/05/the-efficacy-and-safety-of-finasterideminoxidil.pdf
  17. Zito, P., Raggio, B. (2023) Hair Transplantation.
  18. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/
  19. Avci, P., Gupta, G.K., Clark, J., Wikonkal, N. & Hamblin, M.R. (2014, February). Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) for Treatment of Hair Loss. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 46 (2), 144–151. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944668/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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