Although many people seem to - mistakenly - believe that hats can cause hair loss, in future they may actually be linked to hair growth.
Following on from wearable low level laser therapy (LLLT) devices set inside caps or helmets, researchers in the USA and China have produced a next generation hair loss solution which can also be discretely placed inside a hat.
Rather than being light-focused, however, this new technology involves the use of a wireless patch which administers electric pulses to stimulate hair follicles into regrowing hair. It is currently aimed at treating Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Reports of this clinical trial, which was conducted on rats and mice, were published in the American Chemical Society journal on 10th September 2019. The paper is entitled Self-Activated Electrical Stimulation for Effective Hair Regeneration via a Wearable Omnidirectional Pulse Generator.
A team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a flexible, 1 millimetre-thick patch, made of various layered materials which are charged by the wearer's body movement-generated energy. These layers then produce electricity when they make contact with each other, creating pulses which then sparked hair regrowth in both shaved rats and mice with a form of genetic hairloss, during the trial.
The hair growth stimulated by this process, is known as the triboelectric effect; it is thought to encourage the natural production of chemicals including keratinocyte and vascular endothelial growth factors, which contribute to normal healthy hair growth.
According to the study, hair regrowth was notably faster in the group of mice treated this way than it was in a comparator group where shaved rats were treated with topical minoxidil lotion and inert saline solutions.
High strength minoxidil is currently the only unisex genetic hair loss treatment to be both MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved. It is a dose-dependent drug which is applied directly to the scalp either once or twice per day, depending on the formulation, and is considered to have a low side effect profile.
Whilst other electric pulse devices have been shown to stimulate hair growth previously, they have always involved being hooked up to a battery pack or electricity source; this novel device aims to be more convenient and ergonomic by being wirelessly housed in a specially-designed baseball cap.
The patch was also tested on hairless mice which were genetically deficient in hair growth factors, over a nine-day period. The patch was applied to each mouse and the area surrounding the patch was treated with minoxidil and saline solution.
At the end of this trial, those mice being treated with the patch saw their fur grow to 2 millimetres in length where the patch was placed, and 1 millimetre-long in the other areas that were treated topically. The researchers further noted that hair density measurements were three times greater where the patch was applied when compared to the minoxidil-saline areas.
Research paper author, Xudong Wang of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, revealed he had also tried the patch on his father who had been losing his hair for a number of years.
“It helped him to grow a lot of new hairs after one month,” says Wang, noting that this gentle electric pulse therapy would not be suitable for people who had already been bald for a number of years - only those who were experiencing mild to advanced thinning hair or who had recently gone bald.
It would need to be worn for "a few hours" each day during which the wearer would need to be somewhat active in terms of head movement in order for the necessary amount of electricity to be generated.
As a result of these developments, and a wearable prototype of the baseball cap version having been produced, the team is now seeking approval for human clinical trials featuring men with androgenetic alopecia. This is because Wang believes Male Pattern Baldness to be the closest hair loss condition to the mouse model they have already tested.
Whilst an interesting development, it may be a number of years before such trials are completed and the relevant safety and efficacy criteria required for FDA clearance are reached.
In the meantime, those interested in augmenting their hair loss treatment course with addition hair growth supporting products can choose from a number of authorised LLLT devices, including the HairMax LaserBand range.
These flexible, wireless headbands use medical-grade lasers and patented teeth designs to part the hair and get straight to the scalp, helping to stimulate hair growth and hair strength. The manufacturers claim these devices - which are used for 90 seconds, 3 time per week (82 model) or 3 minutes, 3 times per week (41 model) - have a 93 per cent success rate.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.