Tinea capitis is a dermatophyte infection of the hair shaft and follicles that primarily affects children (Figure 5). Risk factors include household exposure and exposure to contaminated hats, brushes, and barber instruments. Trichophyton tonsurans is the most common etiology in North America.14 Transmission occurs person-to-person or from asymptomatic carriers. Infectious fungal particles may remain viable for many months; other vectors include fallen infected hairs, animals, and fomites. Microsporum audouinii is commonly spread by dogs and cats.
Follicum’s origins trace back to 2004, when two Lund University researchers targeting arteriosclerosis stumbled across a modified protein called osteopontin, which grew hair in mice. The researchers knew nothing about the hair-growth industry, but were quickly informed that there were big market demands, especially in Asia. “If you lose hair in Asia, you lose a lot of your credibility,” Jan Alenfall, the C.E.O. of Follicum, said. “This was really a serendipity finding.”
One hard truth: Hair loss is mostly out of your control. “Baldness comes down to your genes,” says Frederick Joyce, M.D., founder of Rejuvenate! Med Spa and a member of the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery. “If you have the baldness gene, there are some natural remedies that may make your hair stronger and healthier to slow your hair loss slightly—but they won’t prevent you from going bald. Still, maintaining hair health by eating well and using the right products—combined with medical-grade treatments—can really work all together to help you have a fuller, thicker head of hair.”
The Rogaine rep we spoke to explained that the different packaging (and therefore different prices) has to do with the FDA-approval process: “We discovered in clinical trials that the hair loss patterns between men and women are different,” she said by way of explanation. “Men typically have that bald spot on the crown of their head, where women generally have a general thinning throughout, but concentrated more on the top of the head. So for FDA approval, we had to come up with two different, gender-specific products, so the directions were more explanatory.”
I recently published an article covering a story in the press of SkinTE helping to possibly save the life of a burn patient (see Articles). In that post I shared an image from SkinTE’s website which shows an application for hair growth. What some may not be aware of is the fact that Dr. Denver Lough, CEO of PolarityTE, has done some legitimate hair follicle research while at Johns Hopkins University. Whether or not this will increase the chances of a “HairTE” product to become a success, we can’t say. However, it may be of interest to recall two peer reviewed articles that Lough and colleagues published involving the proteins LGR5+ and LGR6+ stem cells and hair growth.
The general medical consensus around laser treatments — caps and combs alike — is that low-level laser light therapy stimulates the cells within the hair follicle. These devices may also increase cell metabolism to promote thicker and more durable hair shafts, something that neither minoxidil or finasteride can do. To use the HairMax Ultima, all you have to do is glide the device over your scalp slowly. Treatments should take about eight minutes, and you should do it three days per week for the best results.
Dupilumab is FDA approved for treating eczema aka atopic dermatitis and sold under the brand name Dupixent. As the story goes, a patient with alopecia totalis (a form of areata which leaves a person’s head completely bald) was being treated for eczema by the drug Dupixent. After 6 weeks the patient first began to notice progress in terms of hair growth and at 7 months she had noticeable pigmented hair growth on her scalp. Notably, the patient stopped taking the dupilumab for a period of time and noticed her growth subsided; when she began taking the drug again the hair improved once more. This provides another useful therapy option for patients seeking treatment for AA. One would imagine a topical version would be worthwhile to investigate.