Diagnosing androgenetic alopecia isn’t a very tough procedure. It is simply done by observing hair loss and confirmed by locating presence of miniaturized hair in the areas of thinning or hair loss. Miniaturization of hair follicles can be thoroughly examined by using a densitometer.
Miniaturization refers to that process which leads to the shortening of length and breadth of hair due to the action of androgens.
Observe the two pictures below. The first one represents a photo of a normal scalp in which the follicular units are healthy and thick. Their shafts are equally thick. Whereas the photo to the right depicts a condition where the hair are not uniform in their diameters and have miniaturized due to androgenetic alopecia.
Androgenetic alopecia is a genetic condition which means that obtaining an understanding of the individual’s family history is enough to diagnose the condition. Detecting conditions of diffuse hair loss can be tougher than identifying the common Norwood patterns. If observed carefully, the presence of thin hair can confirm the diagnosis of ‘Diffuse Patterned Alopecia’ or ‘Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia’ in most cases.
Thyroid disease and anemia in men are known to lead to diffuse hair loss in men. Also some medications which control high blood pressure and depression are also known to cause hair loss in men.
Detecting diffuse hair loss, which may not be caused due to androgenetic factors, becomes easy when tests for lupus and syphilis are conducted.
If androgenetic alopecia can’t be diagnosed, further information for the ongoing condition may be obtained through a hair-pull test, by obtaining a scraping and culture of fungus present in hair follicles, a microscopic examination of the hair shaft and its bulb, and by performing a scalp biopsy. It’s essential that a dermatologic inspection of the scalp is conducted whenever the reasons for hair loss are unclear.