If you have a problem with your hair or scalp the specialist to see is a trichologist in the same way you would see a dermatologist for a skin problem. They can treat hair loss, baldness, scaling of the scalp, itching, hair breakage, dryness and oiliness amongst other things.
Hair is a very sensitive 'barometer' to imbalances in the body - factors such as poor nutrition, medical or genetic problems, medication and stress can adversely affect their hair and scalp. During a consultation expect to be asked to give a thorough medical history. You may even be asked to take a blood test. All this information will enable the trichologist, in most cases, to identify the cause of your problem and where possible, treat it.
Hair loss can cause great distress, and there are many misunderstandings about its causes and treatment.
Probably the most common type of hair loss is the so-called ‘male pattern baldness’, which, despite its name, can affect women as well as men, and for which, in men, there appears to be no specific, readily-available treatment. This is a problem that requires sympathetic handling, and a qualified trichologist has to understand the patient’s anxiety and help him come to terms with the loss of hair. Some women suffering from this condition can be helped with medical assistance and the use of hormonal treatment.
There are many other types of hair loss which can and do respond to treatment and advice without medical assistance. There are also some types of hair loss which can have a natural or spontaneous recovery. Excessive hair loss can often be a symptom of some other problem or variation in the metabolism of the body, and for this reason, co-operation between the patient’s doctor and the trichologist is often necessary.
Problems of the scalp, ranging from dandruff to more inflammatory conditions, occupy much of a trichologist’s time. As with the hair, these problems can be symptomatic of some other metabolic variation. Stress, poor diet, or even some allergies to certain foods, can be responsible for the build up and shedding of dead skin cells.
The management of hair and scalp that are excessively greasy is another area in which the advice of a qualified trichologist is often sought. Here, guidance on the right type of shampoo for any particular individual, and on its frequency of use, might be particularly relevant.
Problems with hair texture can be caused by over exposure to heat or strong chemicals, or by many of the other stresses and strains to which we subject our hair. In such cases, co-operation with the hairdresser is obviously important, and it indicates that trichologists’ training overlaps both the medical and the cosmetic in areas not normally covered by either doctors or hairdressers.
Hair texture problems usually respond very well to appropriate advice and treatment, as the cause(s), once discovered, can often be reduced or eliminated altogether.
In cases of scalp disorders in particular, it is possible that your trichologist will prescribe treatment creams and shampoos for use either in the clinic or at home. These will either be manufactured by the trichologist (if he or she holds a Medicines Control Agency licence) or by other licensed trichologists who specialise in manufacturing such preparations. These products should always be used in strict accordance with instructions.
Where appropriate, the trichologist can give advice to those patients wishing to be referred to members of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons, for hair grafting (hair transplant).
For those seeking to gain added hair (sometimes referred to as ‘hair replacement’) in the form of wigs, extensions or weaving, guidance and appropriate referrals can be offered.
Advice and support can be given to those people who habitually pull their hair. Likewise, information, guidance and support is also given to those people who have lost hair through chemotherapy treatment.