The Balance between Developing Diagnostic Schemas that Help and Hinder
The first step in learning about the diagnosis of medical diseases in general and the diagnosis of hair diseases specifically is to develop a framework in one’s mind about the “typical patient“ who develops a given type of condition.
For example, we all know that the typical patient with chickenpox is a young child. The typical patient with breast cancer is a female. These types of frameworks are important for all of us as we try to understand the massive amount of information about the human body.
In the field of hair loss, we also have the similar compartmentalization of knowledge. The typical patient with tinea capitis is a child. The typical patient with frontal fibrosing alopecia is a white woman 45-60 years old.
The process of learning and the process of storing information in the brain and then retrieving information from the brain is naturally set up for us to bring bias to the way we solve problems. In part, that’s just what it means to be human.
The second step to mastering information is to challenge one’s biases and bring to the patient encounter an open mind rather than fixed and rigid beliefs. What are the exceptions to the rules? Where do traditional views break down?
What sorts of adults get chickenpox? What males develop breast cancer? What adults develop tinea capitis? How often does frontal fibrosing alopecia affect black women or affect men?
The image here shows several examples of conditions that are easy to miss in the hair clinic when our diagnostic frameworks are too rigid. It is a very fine balance between developing frameworks in medicine that allow us to easily process and deal with massive amounts of information and frameworks that block us from making certain less common diagnoses when they arise.