Hair is the denominator and indicator of one’s overall health and wellness and so, most people wish to know whether hair scalp analysis is essential if they need to solve their hair scalp issues. Unfortunately Hair is something we don’t take seriously until we notice a remarked decrease in hair density or a receding hairline – both falling under the category of thinning hair and/or baldness. Hair is no longer considered as a mere extension of the human anatomy; it has metamorphosed into an important accessory that reflects the inner as well as external personality of a person. While healthy hair may have unrealised benefits, loss of hair can severely bruise a person’s ego and lower esteem, moreso if it happens at an early age. It is therefore imperative that men and women of all ages understand the nuances of hair and scalp wellness and initiate early preventive steps for proper hair and scalp health-management that primarily includes regular self-analysis.
As part of the diagnosis, a qualified medical practitioner, usually a Dermatologist or a Trichologist gently removes about 10 individual hair from the scalp, including the hair bulb and subjects those to a Trichology test / Trichoscan. A Trichogram is a physical macro and microscopic examination of hair and the scalp. It takes about a week to get the results and the analysis includes a microscopic and mineral analysis. Sometimes, the Trichologist might suggest taking blood tests as well, for a better accuracy. Doctors may use this data to find out why a person is losing hair or how much of the hair are in the growing or resting or falling phases, though the precision in this exercise is questionable given the complexity of factors involved in the process – the dynamics of human metabolism with environment, the effect of genetics, stress, nutrition and lifestyle, all of which are abstract factors.
Through a series of microscopic analyses, it is possible to determine structural damage, establish the rate of hair loss, confirm the presence of fungus or infection or identify genetic influences. On the other hand, the mineral analysis is used to access the levels of minerals such as calcium, zinc, copper, magnesium, chromium, lead, mercury, aluminium and arsenic in the hair. These results can indicate nutritional or medical problems that are affecting the hair and scalp.
Modern, more sophisticated, hair analysis uses gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to chemically test hair or find its DNA composition. Usually, a pencil-tip thickness of hair close to the body (from the region behind the head just above the neck) is cut out. The hair closest to the scalp is used because it is the most recent growth, and it can be expected to show the most recent condition of the body. The hair is usually dissolved for this procedure and the extract is analyzed for minerals, drugs, toxins or heavy metals. This data is also used, more controversially, to diagnose diseases and deficiencies/excesses in the complete human metabolic system rather than for hair/scalp health. Modern methods are sensitive enough to find traces of minerals/metals/drugs that are as low as even a picogram (one thousandth of a nanogram) per gram of hair.
Hair is an excretory tissue for essential, nonessential and potentially toxic elements. In general, the amount of an element that is irreversibly incorporated into growing hair is proportional to the level of the element in other body tissues. Therefore, hair elements analysis essentially provides an indirect screening test for physiological excess, deficiency or mal-distribution of elements in the body. Clinical research indicates that hair levels of specific elements, particularly potentially toxic elements such as cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic are highly correlated with pathological disorders. For such elements, levels in hair may be more indicative of body stores than the levels in blood and urine.
All screening tests have limitations that must be taken into consideration. The correlation between hair element levels and physiological disorders is determined by numerous factors. Individual variability and compensatory mechanisms are major factors that affect the relationship between the distribution of elements in hair and symptoms and pathological conditions. It is also very important to keep in mind that scalp hair is vulnerable to external contamination of elements by exposure to hair treatments and products. Likewise, some hair treatments (eg. permanent solutions, dyes and bleach) can strip hair of endogenously acquired elements and result in false low values. Careful consideration of the limitations must be made in the interpretation of results of hair analysis. The data provided should be considered in conjunction with symptomology, diet analysis, occupation and lifestyle, physical examination and the results of other analytical laboratory tests.
HAIR ANALYSIS: CAN IT HELP YOU?
In the west, so far, hair analysis has been used primarily by toxicologists and by law enforcers. As an aid to therapy or diagnosis, hair analysis is not necessary – yet. The American Medical Association says hair analysis “will remain limited until validation by the standard methods of clinical investigation is achieved.”
The American Medical Association calls this – hair analysis for medical therapy – ‘an unproven practice with potential for healthcare fraud.’
In most cases, there is no single determined cause of hair loss and is always a mix of contributing factors like stress, genes, environment, clinical abnormalities, nutrition, harsh chemical applications, etc. Even a precise determination of one cause does not preclude any other cause and hence, an understandable futility of such an exercise. Remember, all the causes of hair loss, be it stress, environmental factors, nutrition or harsh chemical applications are numerically indeterminable on a scale and even if it ever would be, it would never be conclusive to quantify the contribution of each or any of these. Still further, even if the cause(s) are determined through a series of complex diagnostic and evaluation techniques, the contribution of each cause remains a big question throwing more questions than answers.
These complicated diagnostic and evaluation techniques carry a two-dimensional risk: i) the time lost in conducting a series of such tests may lead to a rapid deterioration in the state of hair health during the time the tests are conducted and analysed, and ii) an inept analysis of such cumbersome tests may lead to misleading results, again leading to a delay in the treatment process. Since there are no demonstrable and measurable scales for the contributing factors for hair loss, diagnostic consultations are often viewed as driven by commercial considerations; it is always advisable to go for WHOLESOME treatment and maintenance solutions for hair, ones that are not targeted at one cause but work to counter each of the causes of hair loss with a specifically defined purpose of each ingredient.
We, at M/s Stuff n Style , work with a passion and an endeavour to get across to your doorstep such distinct solutions that get you TOTAL HAIR & SCALP WELLNESS, be it Preventive or Curative.