Trichology Tests To Help Find The Underlying Issue
By Patti Wood
Below are some tests a trichologist will want you to have before you start your treatment:
Test 1: They may ask to have your ferritin levels checked along with Iron, Vitamin B, Folic acid, and Vitamin D.
What is ferritin?
Ferritin is the major iron storage protein of the body. Ferritin levels can be used to indirectly measure the iron levels in the body. Ferritin has the shape of a hollow sphere that permits the entry of a variable amount of iron for storage (as ferric hydroxide phosphate complexes).
What is the ferritin blood test?
The ferritin test uses venous blood that is withdrawn as for any routine blood test. No special preparation for the test is necessary. The test is sometimes ordered together with other tests to help evaluate how the body's iron stores, such as an iron level, or a total iron binding capacity test.
What are normal results for a ferritin test?
The results may vary slightly among laboratories, but in general, normal ferritin levels are 12-300 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL) for males and 12-150 ng/mL for female
Test 2: Iron Test
Why do you need iron to re-grow hair?
“What Dr. Bergfeld has found in decades of experience, is when she treats patients for iron deficiency, even in the absence of anemia, it can maximize their ability to re-grow hair," Trost tells WebMD. "It is not the silver bullet for baldness, but it can definitely help maximize how a patient regrows hair."
The Cleveland Clinic isn't alone in doing this. George Cotsarelis, director of the University of Pennsylvania Hair and Scalp Clinic, has studied iron supplementation in women with various forms of hair loss.
"From our clinic's experience, it is clear to me that if you replenish hair-loss patients' iron stores with iron suppliments, they are more likely to regrow hair, or at least stop hair shedding," Cotsarelis tells WebMD. "And they don't have to be anemic. That is the biggest mistake doctors make."
An even bigger mistake would be for balding people to take iron supplements on their own. Unless you have iron deficiency, which is diagnosed by a doctor, iron supplements can lead to a very dangerous condition from iron overload.
Test 3: B Vitamin Test
B vitamins consist of a group of water soluble vitamins that are essential to your overall health. A common misconception about B vitamins is that they are all one vitamin, commonly referred to as vitamin B. In reality, though, there are many B vitamins including B1, B2, B3 along with vitamins B5, B6, B7, B9 and finally B12. It has been long known that some of the B-complex vitamins can do wonders when it comes to improving hair growth, shine and thickness. Let’s take a better look at how B-complex vitamins can help hair grow better.
Which B Vitamins Promote Hair Growth?
While there are many different B vitamins, each with slightly different health benefits, most hair care experts recommend that if you have a vitamin B deficiency, you should be taking full vitamin B complex supplements, or eating foods that contain all of these vitamins. The reason for this is simple: B vitamins work to support many vital bodily functions and they are better absorbed and produce the best results when taken together.
Below are a list of B-complex vitamins that are commonly used to promote healthy hair.
· Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin): This vitamin plays a key role in fat, protein and carb metabolism. A riboflavin deficiency can result in severe or gradual hair loss.
· Vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenate): This vitamin is commonly found in various skin and hair care products. A pantothenate deficiency can result in hair loss and scalp irritation. Some hair care experts believe that vitamin B5 can be applied to hair externally to make it shinier and stronger. For this reason vitamin B5 is commonly found in hair shampoos and conditioners, although there is no strong evidence showing that B5 applied externally has any measurable benefits, and if it does they are likely to be very short lasting.
· Vitamin B6: While this vitamin is not linked to hair growth directly, it can help to keep your skin and scalp healthy, which will in turn promote better hair growth. Vitamin B6 deficiency can bring on a skin condition called dermatitis which is often responsible for slower hair growth and thinning.
· Vitamin B7 (also known as Biotin): One of the main ingredients in hair and skin care products, Biotin is thought to make your nails and hair grow stronger. Overall, Biotin is an extremely important vitamin as it is required by the body in order to produce fatty acids and promote cell growth. Although Biotin deficiencies are rare, they do happen and can cause hair loss, thinning and breakage.
· Vitamin B12: Just like with vitamin B6, B12 has no direct link to hair growth. With that said, without B12 the body cannot perform many metabolic functions which can have an indirect negative effect on hair growth and your overall health. Gray hair at an early age, under 30 or so, can also be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Now, it’s important you understand that if your vitamin B levels are perfectly normal, ask your doctor to have your levels checked, you won’t see much of an improvement when it comes to hair growth. Most people, however, do have slight vitamin B deficiencies and will usually see positive results after taking additional supplements for at least 3-6 weeks. Just remember to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements!
Vitamin B Deficiency
A vitamin B deficiency can often go unnoticed for years. The most common signs and symptoms are very general and most people don’t think much of them until the condition becomes really bad. While there are many different B vitamins, a deficiency of vitamin B12, for example, can lead to a vitamin B6 deficiency and so on. This makes accurate diagnosis without a specialized blood test very difficult. Some of the signs of vitamin B deficiency are:
· Dry and itchy skin, especially around the mouth
· Cracked lips, especially around the edges
· Rash on the face or genitals
· Brittle nails
· Lots of dandruff
· Extreme nervousness and irritability
· Gray hair in people under the age of 30
· Depression, lack of energy, fatigue and constant tiredness.
Vitamin B helps us access energy from food and a deficiency can make all bodily functions “lag behind” a bit. Some cases of hormonal imbalance can be caused by lack of vitamin B and a hormonal imbalance leads to hair loss. Problems with the central nervous system often inhibit healthy hair growth. B-complex vitamins are absolutely essential to nervous system health.
Again, having proper blood work done is very important. In some cases, quite common actually, the body might lack the ability to absorb certain B vitamins which can lead to serious hair problems.
Test 4: Folic Acid
One of the B vitamins that is a key factor in the synthesis (the making) of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA).
The signs and symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency can be skin inflammation (dermatitis), swelling, dizziness, hair loss and insomnia, trembling and delayed mental response.
Researchers at Cairo University found that women who were experiencing hair loss also had lower levels of iron and vitamin D2, and hair loss only got worse as the levels dropped.
“This is the first time vitamin Ds possible role in hair loss has been highlighted,” explains Rania Mounir Abdel Hay, MD, a dermatologist at Cairo University, and co-author of the study. “It might regulate the expression of genes that promote normal hair follicle growth.”
As for iron: Low levels may inhibit an essential enzyme that has been associated with hair loss in mice. Aim for a minimum of 600 IU of vitamin D per day, 800 IU if you’re over 71 years old. While it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in your diet, salmon packs 450 IU per 3-ounce serving, and fortified milk and orange juice has 115 to 135 IU.
Only after you and your trichologist have gone over the blood work, should you proceed with a plan.
There are many different protocols for hair loss because there are many reasons for hair loss.
One of the most important factor is you must be willing to follow through on a consistent plan. There is no quick fix, no magic pill when it comes to re growing hair. If you have a living follicle then you can grow hair. If your follicles are dead don’t let anyone tell you they can grow hair.
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- Patti Wood, WTS
Patti Wood WTS, Owner of Off 5th Avenue Salon, is a professionally trained hair stylist and a certified Trichologist specializing in Hair Replacement therapy and solutions. Patti has helped many clients solve hair loss problems ranging from cancer treatments, male or female pattern baldness, hair thinning, and Alopecia Areata. She works closely with Dermatologists and Physicians in treatment plans.