Trichology is a respected field of medical study with more than a century of history behind it, yet the term may be new to many of us.
In this post, we’ll explore what trichology is, what it involves, and how it can help to solve certain conditions.
What is trichology?
Trichology is the study of hair, scalp, and issues that affect them. The term comes from the Ancient Greek for hair (thríx).
While the Institute of Trichologists was established in 1902, it’s still going strong more than 100 years later. Certified trichologists will be registered with a governing body, such as the Institute of Trichologists, and may be members of the Association of Registered Trichologists (ART). They are required to follow strict codes of professional conduct and ethical practice.
What does a trichologist do?
A trichologist’s work involves understanding, diagnosing, and treating patients affected by hair and/or scalp conditions.
Trichologists build their understanding of the human hair and scalp through exhaustive research. This empowers them with the insights they need to recognise a plethora of issues that patients may experience, and to make an accurate diagnosis.
Some patients may feel uneasy visiting their doctor to discuss changes to their hair if they feel it’s not something their GP can treat. But this is a trichologist’s area of expertise, and they’re dedicated to helping patients when possible.
What hair problems can a trichologist solve?
A trichologist can help to solve the following hair and scalp problems:
Male pattern baldness
According to the British Association of Dermatologists, male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss affecting men — around half of males over 50 will experience it.
It’s caused by a mix of hormonal and genetic factors, including dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This forces the scalp’s hair follicles to produce shorter, narrower, lighter strands of hair — until they stop producing it entirely.
Male pattern baldness can be passed on from one generation to another, from one or both parents (as female pattern baldness affects around half of women over 65).
Its severity can vary: some men may lose some growth at the hairline and crown, while others can develop full baldness on top of the scalp. The Norwood scale is a helpful resource for diagnosing male pattern baldness, encompassing seven stages of hair loss.
The most effective treatment for male pattern baldness is a hair restoration procedure. Hair transplants are more affordable, safe, and reliable than ever today, due to cutting-edge technology and innovative techniques.
Hair shedding, also known as telogen effluvium, occurs when a patient loses more hair per day than is considered normal or healthy. This is between 50 and 100 daily on average (according to the American Academy of Dermatology).
You may notice more hairs on your pillow in the morning or in your shower drain after shampooing.
Various factors can cause telogen effluvium, such as:
- A physical trauma (an accident, surgery, etc.)
- Hormone fluctuations (as experienced during pregnancy)
- Nutrition deficiency (e.g. low iron or zinc)
- Medications (e.g. some antidepressants)
Hair shedding may stop after certain lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthier diet, reducing stress, or taking medication. And there’s no guarantee that lost hair will grow back without treatment, such as a hair transplant.
Excessive hair growth
Patients may visit a trichologist to address excessive hair growth on the body, especially the face or visible areas (thighs, stomach, chest, neck). This is a condition known as hirsutism.
Hirsutism can be caused by:
- An increase in androgens
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Anabolic steroids
- Various medications
- Hormonal conditions
Treatment may involve controlling hormone levels, removing the hair temporarily with creams, or a permanent solution such as electrolysis or laser hair removal.
Hair breakage can be caused by various conditions or issues, including:
- Idiopathic trichoclasia
- Trichorrhexis Nodosa
- Traumatic alopecia
- Specific hairdressing techniques
Healthy hair growth may be disrupted due to problems with the follicles, such as twisted strands, knots, excessive dryness, or overuse of dyes or extensions.
Patients may grow out of some of these conditions, but a trichologist might be able to recommend a treatment to ease or combat symptoms.
Dandruff is a common issue affecting the scalp. Dead skin is shed from the scalp to an excessive degree, so that flakes become visible on the hair or a person’s clothing.
Dandruff can be caused by:
- Dry scalp
- Poor diet
- Over- or underuse of shampoo
- Excessive sebaceous oil secretion
Dandruff may be treated with specially formulated shampoos.
What to expect from a consultation with a trichologist?
During a consultation with a trichologist, they will discuss your medical history, lifestyle, diet, and approach to haircare. This will help them understand your problem and its cause.
The trichologist will also examine your hair and scalp with a digital microscope or magnification tool. This may involve analysing one or more areas in detail. They might also ask further questions while they work.
How does a trichologist reach a diagnosis and what is the next step?
A trichologist will make a diagnosis based on the information you provide and their close examination of your hair and scalp.
If your condition can be treated, they will recommend a treatment plan designed to help ease, reduce, or reverse the issue. They will provide a realistic outlook for the treatment’s success and the results you can expect to see in the future.
If your issue cannot be solved by the trichologist, they may recommend you visit a specialist in another field for further options.
Trichology is the study of human hair, the scalp, conditions affecting both, and treatments.
A qualified trichologist studies patient hair and scalps to identify the root of hair loss or other conditions. They can recommend treatments based on their findings.
A trichology specialist may be able to help you by diagnosing your condition (e.g. male pattern baldness, telogen effluvium) and recommending a treatment plan.