Read below about patchy hair loss, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your patchy hair loss from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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8 Potential Patchy Hair Loss Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Side - Effect(s) of Chemotherapy

    Unfortunately, chemotherapy has many side-effects, ranging from hair loss to fatigue to nausea. This occurs because the treatment affects not only diseased cells but also healthy cells.

    This is likely to last the duration of your treatment; however, symptoms can be managed with other medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, loss of appetite, arthralgias or myalgias, dizziness, sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with side-effect(s) of chemotherapy:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Cushing Syndrome

    Cushing Syndrome is a hormonal disorder. The cause is long-term exposure to too much cortisol, a hormone that the adrenal gland makes. Sometimes, taking synthetic hormone medicine like corticosteroids to treat an inflammatory disease leads to Cushing's syndrome.

    Recovery depends on treatment method

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, depressed mood, weight gain, back pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Ringworm of the Scalp (Tinea Capitis)

    Tinea Capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp. It often causes itching, dandruff, and sometimes bald spots. It can be transmitted from one person to another.

    Treatment will last from 4-12 weeks, but the symptoms should resolve a few weeks into treatment.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    scalp itchiness, patchy hair loss, scalp redness, scaling of the scalp, rash
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Hypoparathyroidism

    Hypoparathyroidism is disorder in which the parathyroid glands in the neck do not produce enough parathyroid hormone (PTH). The majority of cases are following surgery.

    4-8 weeks if it's not permanent

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    patchy hair loss, skin thickening, fingernail changes, patchy body hair loss
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

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  5. 5.Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck, no longer produces adequate levels of hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for many bodily functions including breathing, heart rate, and metabolism.

    Most cases of hypothyroidism require lifelong hormone replacement therapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Lupus

    Lupus is a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This can damage joints, skin, blood vessels and organs.

    Lupus is a chronic condition but symptoms can be managed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depressed mood, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Tertiary Phase of Syphilis Infection

    Syphilis is a common sexually trasmitted infection (STI). Late phase, or tertiary, syphilis is uncommon, as it occurs years to decades after initial exposure to the infection. It is the most progressed and serious stage of the disease. Late phase syphilis infection can lead to loss of function of multiple organ systems, especially the nervous system, the heart and blood vessels, and the liver.

    Prognosis is variable and highly dependent on the individual. Late phase syphilis, unfortunately, often leads to the poorest outcomes due to damage of multiple organs.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    joint pain, fatigue, irritability, numbness or tingling sensations in skin, dizziness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Rickets

    Rickets causes soft, weak bones in children. It usually occurs when they do not get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb the minerals calcium and phosphorous.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    muscle aches, irritability, fatigue, spontaneous bone pain, patchy hair loss
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

FAQs About Patchy Hair Loss

Here are some frequently asked questions about patchy hair loss.

Can stress cause patchy hair loss?

Yes, if you have alopecia, it can be exacerbated by stress. Stress can also cause hair loss through a disorder called telogen effluvium, in which stress alters the regeneration cycle of hair — causing impermanent hair loss.

Do thyroid disorders lead to patchy hair loss?

Yes, hypothyroidism (low thryoid hormone levels) can cause brittle, dry hair and hair loss in some instances. Hyperthyroidism (high or excessive thyroid hormone levels) can also lead to a change in texture of hair to become thin or fine, but is not as strongly associated with hair loss. If you suspect that you have a thyroid disorder, contact your physician for evaluation.

Why am I getting bald spots on my head?

You may be getting bald spots on your head for multiple reasons. For example, alopecia is an autoimmune disorder causing limited bald spots across the scalp. An infection with roundworms (tinea capitis) can also damage hair follicles to a degree where hair cannot grow in that area. Large patterns of baldness may be caused by male-pattern baldness, which stems from a hormonal imbalance and is highly genetic.

What causes hair loss in women?

Hair loss in women can be caused by many diseases. Most commonly male-pattern baldness — in which elevated levels of a particular type of testosterone — cause baldness. However, hypothyroidism can also cause hair loss in women.

What are early signs of hair loss?

Many patients report shedding hair as a the first sign of hair loss, followed by a feeling of thinning hair. Most will notice hair shed in bed, in the drain of the bathtub, or on the comb as they brush their hair in the morning. It is also common for the partners or roommates to notice an increase in an individual's hair shedding throughout the house.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Patchy Hair Loss

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you had any changes in your weight?
  • Q.Have you noticed a decrease in your libido or sex drive?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our patchy hair loss symptom checker to find out more.

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Patchy Hair Loss Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced patchy hair loss have also experienced:

    • 10% Hair Loss
    • 5% Scalp Itchiness
    • 4% Scalp Pain
  • People who have experienced patchy hair loss were most often matched with:

    • 33% Ringworm of the Scalp (Tinea Capitis)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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