I sometimes hear from people who aren’t sure what type of hair loss that they have. What they are sure of, however, is that they are losing tons of hair and they want to identify what is wrong so that they can try to fix it. There are a lot of misconceptions about symptoms that correspond with a certain type of hair loss. Many people suspect that they have telogen effluvium but aren’t sure if their symptoms or pattern of hair loss fits with that type of diagnosis.
So I might hear from someone who says: “for about six weeks, I have been shedding so much hair. From my research, I think that it is possible that I have telogen effluvium. But I am losing hair all over. In fact, the most sparse area on my scalp is on the sides. But a friend of mine said that this type of hair loss presents with mostly hair loss on the top of the head. Is this correct?”
Before I attempt to answer, I want to stress that I am not a specialist or doctor. My answer is based on a lot of research that I conducted when I was going through this myself. But its my belief that the most likely condition to present with top of the scalp loss is androgenetic alopecia. Many women mistakenly assume that they can’t or don’t have this because most people think of it as a problem that is unique to men. It honestly is not. Many women suffer from it even when they do not have a family history of it by both male and female family members.
The reason that this type of loss is more likely on the top of the head is because there are certain areas where androgen sensitivity is more likely. These areas are the top of the scalp, the temples, and the crown. But the sides are most definitely not typical. That’s not to say that no one has ever had diffuse androgenetic alopecia or patterned telogen effluvium. I am sure that these things happen. And I have heard from folks who say that this has happened to them. (And honestly the top of your scalp can look sparse with this type of hair loss simply because that area is very noticeable.) But loss limited to only the top isn’t the normal presentation and is likely more rare.
Again, I’m not a doctor and I would highly suggest you see one if you are not sure what type of loss you have. But, a sudden, severe and diffuse shed is more indicative of telogen effluvium than hair loss that is only occurring on top of the head or scalp.