[Sunday World: 2008. By Frances Winston.]
Take Care With Your Hair
It would seem that since the dawn of time there have been miracle cures for thinning or balding hair.
Our hair isn't referred to out crowning glory for nothing. Research has shown that people - both male and female - will actually call into work sick if they are suffering from a bad hair day.
Indeed the hair industry is worth a fortune. And it is not just women who are obsessed by our tresses. You only have to look at how often the likes of Brad Pitt or Rio Ferdinand change their looks to see that guys are pretty into their locks as well.
So with all this in mind it is easy to see why hair loss or thinning could be distressing. There are many causes of hair loss. Sometimes it is simply down to male pattern baldness, whuich can actually be suffered by men and women, but often there is an underlying scalp condition or nutritional problem or even just plain old-fashioned stress.
Trichologist Deborah Whelan of the Galway Skin and Trichology Clinic explains. “There are a illion different things that can cause hair loss in men and women. I think that trichology is a bit of a well-kept secret in Ireland. In the UK you would have around 120 clinics but we only have five qualified trichologists in Ireland and we are the only trichology clinic in the country providing clinical and home treatment.
“In the majority of cases, it is never just as simple as the fact that someone is losing their hair. Even men who put their hair loss down to male pattern baldness often have an underlying scalp condition. that is accelerating the loss. People in this position will often have tried over-the-counter treatments which can be really good as slowing down the loss and accelerating growth but if there is an underlying condition, they really need to address that problem in order to get the full benefit of the treatment.”
Deborah says that before you undertake any treatment or procedure you should do your research thoroughly amd in the case of medical procedures, you should ask to talk to previous patients. There is one thing that she doesn't recommend though.
“I know a lot of people get extensions or weaves when their hair starts thinning. There are a few problems with this. The most obvious is that since it grows out with your hair there is an awful lot of maintenance involved, as you will have to keep having it redone.
“However, the main problem is that extensions can also cause 'traction alopecia' which ultimately leads to further hair loss. Again I would recommend treating the underlying problem rather than disguising it with these.
“I think they are fine as a one-off. Say if you have a wedding coming up or a big event. You can get temporary ones that will give you hair volume for that. But I wouldn't look at them as a long-term solution.”
Many women find that they suffer hair loss following pregnancy and, having been a victim of this herself, Deborah is completely qualified to empathise with her clients.
“When I had my second son I did suffer hair loss,” says the 37-year-old, “and at the time I was setting up my clinic so it wasn't ideal. I'd always had a good head of hair so I wasn't letting it worry me too much until I was talking to a woman who said to me 'you should sort your own hair out first before telling others what to do'. When I looked at the back I could see what she meant so I know how traumatic hair loss can be.”
Since she knew that her hair would return to its former glory within the year Deborah resorted to an old tried and tested disguise. "There is a product which is like 'hair in a can' that has been on the market for years in the UK and I remembered it from when I was training. I used that to disguise my thinness ahile I waited for my hair to return.”
Hair restoration surgery has come a long way since the days where people had a very obvious 'plug' type effect post-surgery. However, although she is an advocate of the technology and agrees it can work, Deborah does recommend that you see a trichologist before you undergo it.
“You need to find out at what rate you are thinning and why before you have hair implants. If you are thinning very quickly, you could find yourself with a gap between the implanted hair and your own hair in a few months unless you have checked this out. I have treated people who were bald at the back and had implanted hair on top because so many people don't realise that the hair that was there continues to recede. If you don't deal with the underlying problem, you could end up with a rather unattractive look and not enough hair left to transplant again.”
Deborah says that a trip to a trichologist can definitely put your mind at ease if you are at a loss as to why your hair is disappearing at an alarming rate. “I had a woman come into me recently who was convinced she had a hair shaft abnormality and was very upset about her hair loss. During her consultation I discovered that she'd recently had pneumonia and had been on antibiotics and that this was the reason for her loss.”
So when it comes to preserving your crowning glory the message seems to be find out what the underlying cause is before attempting to treat it. Contact Deborah at the Galway Skin and Trichology Clinic on Tel: 091 565148.