The Cut off of 50: Why it matters in the diagnosis of hair loss in Older Individuals ?
Any birthday is special. The 50th birthday is an important cut off in the diagnosis of many hair diseases. An important principle of diagnosing hair loss in men and women over 60 comes from understanding what density of hair a patient had at age 50.
A true or false question
For anyone over 60, I always ask patients to help me with a true or false question. I generally ask it in the following way
“Is this statement true or false: My hair density at age 50 was about the same as it was at age 30.”
This is such an important question - especially if the patient replies “TRUE”. Men and women who develop hair loss in their 60s and 70s but who report that their density age 50 was quite good have a high likelihood of having another diagnosis besides simply genetic hair loss. Of course genetic hair loss is a possibility and it’s possible the patient does not really have a good recall of their hair density at age 50. Nevertheless, there are several conditions that need to be considered in somwone with good thick hair at age 50 and hair loss in the 60s”
1. Scarring Alopecia (especially Lichen Planopilaris)
2. Senescent Hair Loss
3. Diffuse Alopecia Areata
4. Hair Shedding Disorders
Patients in their 60s and 70s who tell me they had thick hair at age 50 and that it was the same thickness as age 30 often have an interesting array of hair loss conditions. One should not default to diagnosing genetic hair loss in these situations because that diagnosis may be relatively unlikely in this unique situation.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887