How Reliable Is the Hair Pull Test?

How reliable is the hair pull test

If you pay a visit to your doctor because of your hair loss, they can often perform a couple of tests to determine the nature of your hair loss. One of the first tests any doctor will do is the hair pull test. However, not all scientists agree on specific details of this test and not all doctors perform it in the same way.

So, how reliable is the hair pull test?

The Hair Pull Test – How Does It Work?

As its name suggests, the hair pull test is done by grabbing a small cluster of hair and gently pulling on it to see how many hairs get plucked out. And, while some conditions like androgenetic alopecia require nothing more than a visual inspection, other types of hair loss may need more testing.

For example, telogen effluvium is characterized by an overall thinning of the hair from all over the head, so it can be harder to find the cause of hair loss in this condition.

Hair Pull Test Reliability

A team of Canadian scientists set out to examine the current guidelines and recommendations for the hair pull test. They performed the test on 181 volunteers with no hair loss conditions to explore the effects of this test on normal hair.

The researchers found that current recommendations (losing 10% of your hairs during the test indicates a hair loss condition) are too high. Their study shows that this number should be reduced to 4%. They also debunked two popular myths about the test – it’s not affected by brushing or wearing tight hairstyles.


So, how reliable is the hair pull test? Given these new findings, it seems that many current recommendations are wrong. Talk to your doctor about your hair loss and make sure he or she uses reliable tests to determine its cause.