Most people have an acute awareness if they are losing their hair, on the other hand, some don’t realise it until they’ve lost half the density they once had. But hair loss specialists can today identify the condition and suggest ways to repair the damage via a simple visiual diagnosis and consultation. Just in case other methods are proposed to you, however, it is worth explaining what a trichogram is so you can decide for yourself how important it may be in diagnosing hair loss.
What is a Trichogram?
A trichogram is a semi-intrusive method of hair analysis that involves plucking 50 to 100 hairs from different parts of the scalp, sticking them to a slide, and examining them under a microscope. The aim is to determine the rate of hair loss progression by establishing how much of your hair is in each of the three stages of the hair growth cycle, anagen (growth), catagen (transitional) and telogen (resting). Roughly 10% of the hairs should be in the resting phase, any more would indicate a potential problem.
What is a Unit Area Trichogram?
In a unit area trichogram, the hairs are plucked from a measured area of the scalp, rather than from random sections. Unlike the regular trichogram, a unit area trichogram aims to determine hair density, or scalp coverage, as well as the rate of hair fall. Additionally, the hair strands can also be measured to find out how thick they are, but the trichogram needs to be repeated over a period of time to follow the pattern of hair loss or thinning, before a condition can be conclusively diagnosed.
Some Considerations Before Taking a Trichogram Test
If you plan to have a trichogram test, to ensure an accurate evaluation:
- Don’t wash your hair for three or four days beforehand as this can rid your scalp of telogen hairs.
- Avoid osmetic hair treatments up to eight weeks before the test. Things like dyes, relaxers or straightening hair can damage the hair fibre and result in increased hair breakage, which in turn will interfer with the evaluation.
How Important is a Trichogram?
Trichograms are essentially an examination of the form and structure of the hair, and a quantitative measure of the number of individual hair roots. They are helpful in studies on the dynamics of the human follicular cycle and understanding different hair disorders, but such detailed information might not mean so much to the average hair loss patient. They’re also becoming less popular with dermatologists, in fact, because of the time it takes to make an assessment.
Generally, trichograms are not very popular with people who think they might be suffering from hair loss. Aside from the slight pain, the loss of the plucked hairs on a regular basis before a condition is diagnosed is not ideal. And although trichograms can be used to see how well a hair loss product is performing, some might say plucking the newly grown hairs would be counterproductive.
The semi-invasive nature of the technique generally makes it unsuitable as a method for the regular follow-up of patients and monitoring their hair growth rate.
Alternatives to Trichograms
Genetic testing kits have recently been made available that claim to detect if you carry the “bald gene”. Supposedly, if the specific gene is present you will have a 60% chance of going bald by the time you’re 40. However, the accuracy of this test is questionable, and it doesn’t take into account hair loss of a non-hereditary nature. It is not an effective tool for diagnosing a hair loss condition.
The easiest, and still effective, method of diagnosing a hair loss problem is a simple visual assessment and consultation conducted by a hair loss specialist. Hair loss is often a multi-factorial condition, but medically-trained experts can non-invasively examine all aspects of a patient’s medical history, lifestyle and possibilities of genetic tendencies, which may contribute to the condition. There are also standardised patterns of hair loss that are easily identifiable to the trained eye.
The medical knowledge and the non-invasive nature of this method make it a popular option for most people who think they might be losing their hair. Additionally, some hair loss clinics offer free initial consultations which often provide the kind of information you need to make your own decision, but an informed one, with regards to treatment.
And like many areas of health, the online diagnosis of hair loss is another modern approach to confirming or alleviating one’s suspicion. Although they can be an easy and reliable option, especially if you’re able to capture your hair loss on camera and attach it for a visual aid, you have to be very careful with who you trust. There is an awareness about the dangers of online access to medication so it is essential that you research the company that is meant to be providing you with accurate information. Check their credentials and if they are selling any medication make sure they are registered to do so.