I am an active 17 year old high school cheerleader and my hair which used to be thick, is now falling out and becoming thin, like my mother, my grandmother and two of my aunts. They tell me it is in the family, but not when they were my age. What should I do? If I go to a doctor, how do I find one?

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Genetic causes of hair loss in a 17 year old female, is unusual. You were correct to ask your female relatives at what age the condition first appeared with them. I would first have a good doctor see you and look for medical causes of hair loss (there are many). The following problems are amongst those that should be considered: anemia, thyroid disease, connective tissue disease, various gynecological conditions and emotional stress. It is also important to review the use of medications that can cause hair loss, such as oral contraceptives, beta-blockers, Vitamin A, thyroid drugs, coumadin and prednisone if you are taking any of these. Many other medications can also contribute to hair loss so if you are taking any drugs of any type, then that should be looked into as well. The following laboratory tests may be useful if underlying problems are suspected: CBC, Chem Screen, ANA, T4, TSH, STS, Androstenedione, DHEA-Sulfate, Total and Free Testosterone.

It is possible that a medical condition may be the cause of your hair loss, so before you jump to conclusions that you are following your female relatives’ fate, I would have you checked out for these conditions. Also, please read my previous blog entry, Female Hair Loss.