Question and Answers
Joanne Cunningham is a Consultant Trichologist and a Clinical Director in the UK. She has 20 years of experience in the science of the hair and scalp. She is the Trainer of Practical Trichology in Europe for the International Institute of Trichologists(IAT) and is also a Director of the IAT. She is a Member of the World Trichology Society, The Royal Institute of Public Health and is also an Affiliate of the Royal Society of Medicine. She is here to offer any help you may need for any hair or scalp problems.
If you have a particular question for Joanne please feel free to submit your question to her using the form below and we shall reply to you as soon as possible.
Q1. I travel quite a lot in my job, mainly travelling by air. I find my hair comes out a lot when I comb or wash it. The hair tends to shed more than it should. Is there a solution?
A: Constant air travel, staying in hotels, being constantly on the move, poor quality food, the quality of re-cycled air in aircrafts – these all affect your health and could cause an increase in hair shedding. Furthermore, re-location is very stressful which can lead to poor eating habits that could cause temporary hair loss. It can take six months for this type of loss to correct itself but this would depend on getting into the habit of resting, sleeping and eating properly.
Q.2. I can’t get out of the habit of blow-drying my hair every day, but I’m sure it’s Affecting the overall condition of my hair. I can’t possibly bear the thought of ditching my hair dryer, so is there a way of making it less damaging.
A: Blow-drying your hair on a daily basis will undoubtedly cause a degree of progressive damage. You can protect your hair by using a protective styling mousse prior to blow-drying. Try using your dryer on a lower heat setting and holding it a little further from your hair shaft. The nozzle must never come into direct contact with the hair.
Q.3. What is the best way to look after my hair?
A: If you look after your body, it, in turn, will look after your hair. Look at your lifestyle: is there anything you could change as an improvement? Do you eat too much fast food because you are too busy to prepare healthy food? You can turn things around with a little effort. Also, think of your hair as a silk garment. Both silk and hair are protein fibres. You wouldn’t wash a silk garment with a cheap detergent in a washing machine on a high agitation cycle and then dry it in a dryer at a very high temperature. Think of what a silk garment would look after that treatment. Eat wisely, use the correct hair products and gentle treatment and you will enjoy optimum hair conditions. Why have straw when you can have silk?
Q.4. Do products that claim to repair hair really work?
A: The majority of hair care products help with the combability and general appearance of the hair. They will coat the hair temporarily mending split ends. Some amino acids can penetrate the hair repairing minor damage.. The effect is not permanent and only lasts from shampoo to shampoo. Products containing Panthenol penetrate into the hair as well as coating the hair shaft. It’s effect is said to be cumulative. That is, it’s beneficial effects withstand shampooing. All these products are for minor hair damage and will have no effect on badly damaged hair.
Q.5. I have read that Male Pattern Hair Loss is inherited from the mother’s side of the family. Is this true?
A: Many people have heard that, “hair loss comes from the mother’s side of the family,” but this is largely a myth. While there is a slightly higher frequency of inheritance from the mother’s side, male pattern baldness is a genetic trait that can be inherited from either parent. Also, there is more than one gene involved. The term used by scientists is ‘polygenic’, meaning involving more than one gene, and it is more complicated than was originally thought.
Q.6. I am male aged 62 and am losing my hair. It is not in the male pattern way of temples and crow but my hair, although it covers my head, is much thinner than it used to be. What causes this?
A: Even when there is no predisposition to genetic balding, as a man ages, some hairs in each follicular unit randomly begin to minituarize. As a result, each group will contain both full terminal hairs and minituarized hairs, making the area appear less full. Eventually, the minituarized hairs are lost and the follicular units are reduced in number. In all adult males, the entire scalp undergoes this ageing process to some degree over time. Fortunately, in most men the permanent zone retains enough permanent hair so that hair transplantation remains a viable option for men well in to their 70s.
Q.7. I am thinking of having a hair transplant but am worried that I might lose the transplants for the same reason my own hair disappeared.
A: Dehydrotestosterone (DHT) , the hormone that is the instigator of male pattern hair loss, resides in the follicles in the front, top and crown of the head. Normally the follicles at the back of the head from which the transplant donor area is chosen are not sensitive to DHT and are unaffected by the trans-position to the top area of the head.
Q.8. I have been using the drug Finasteride as a treatment for hair loss and have been told that the herb Saw Palmetto is useful as a DHT Inhibitor. I would prefer to use this because it is herbal. What is your opinion?
A: Tests appear to indicate that Saw Palmetto is likely to be very useful as a hair loss intervention, however its ascertainable effects on hair, like and mild anti-androgen, will take up to six months to manifest. Not unlike Finasteride, when it first came to market in 1992,many tried Saw Palmetto for a few months, didn’t see visible results, and concluded it ”didn’t work”. When Finasteride was being experimented in the early years, prior to its FDA approval for hair loss, the consensus was that it was useless and a big disappointment. The reason for this was that the results for most were subtle and undetectable for the first 9-12 months. Indications are that Saw Palmetto as a DHT Inhibitor is likely very useful as a hair loss intervention, however its ascertainable effects on hair , like any mild anti-androgens, will take up to six months to manifest.