We’ve all watched television programs like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law and Order.” Shows like these simplify the investigative process that investigators conduct in trying to solve the mysteries behind crimes. If you’ve paid close attention, you may have noticed investigators collecting and examining hair as evidence in crime cases. How is the hair used to solve the crime? The study of the hair follicles found at the scene goes beyond the hair color.
Three layers of the hair shaft are used in determining how a crime was committed and who the criminal may be. The medulla, the innermost core of the hair, can be used to determine the race or ethnicity of the potential perpetrator.
The cortex is the layer over the medulla and is used to compare one hair to another. Microscopic air bubbles and pigment granules help scientists distinguish between the hair types. The outermost layer, the cuticle, can be used to determine the species (if the hair belongs to an animal) through analysis of the patterns of scales that cover the cortex.
In terms of investigation, the root of the hair can be one of the most useful pieces of evidence. By the root (or lack thereof), scientists can tell if the hair was shed naturally, pulled out, or cut off. The root is where investigators can find DNA to help precipitate their analysis. If a hair is pulled out during the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle a root bulb will appear with follicular tissue. This tissue has nuclear DNA which helps create a DNA profile unique to the hair’s owner.
During the catagen stage, the root of the hair pulls away from the shaft, and the hair is easily pulled from the head. The root bulb is less round and more elongated in this phase. In the final stage, the telogen phase, the hair sheds naturally and has a club-shaped root bulb. These two phases do not produce a follicular tag, which means nuclear DNA cannot be harvested from hairs in the catagen and telogen phases. However, mitochondrial DNA may be found in just the hair and can help to narrow down subjects, though it cannot distinguish between siblings.
Hair is also useful in chemical tests since it is often the only evidence still remaining after other bodily evidence has disappeared. Scientists can determine the presence of chemicals, poisons, heat treatments, and more. The important thing to note about the use of hair in investigations is that it is only one piece of an investigative puzzle. Hair cannot be used as evidence on its own. However, it can be very useful along with other pieces of evidence. Who knew your hair held so much information?
Bertino, Anthony J., and Patricia Nolan. Bertino. Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2009.
Did you see Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s ad in Atlanta Parent this month? If not, see the skin care services offered below and be sure to join us on Wednesday January 11th for Cosmetic Day for skin care savings. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our office at 404-256-4457.
Latisse® is a popular treatment that is FDA approved to help users grow longer, darker, and thicker eyelashes. The treatment started off as a medicine for glaucoma when researchers noticed that their participants were also growing longer, more luxurious eyelashes during the testing process.
One doctor in Florida is now taking Latisse® from eyelash enhancer to hair restoration treatment. When one of his patients demonstrated an allergic reaction to the typical hair restoration medication Rogaine®, he suggested she use Latisse® to regrow thinning hair instead. Using a drop or two a day of Latisse® on the affected area along with a new daily vitamin regimen, the patient saw a reduction in the thinning of her hair in about four months.
However, there are definite disadvantages to using Latisse® for hair restoration including the high cost for an unproven treatment. While this one patient has benefited from the treatment, most scarring alopecias and those caused by immune problems most likely will not be improved.
Latisse® is not FDA approved for hair restoration on the scalp which means it hasn’t been tested in that area and any risks or potential long-term side effects haven’t been fully investigated. FDA approval for a new use of an already approved drug may take many years and cost millions. By the time it gets back to the patient, the price will surely be increased. For years this drug has been used in the eyes with a high degree of safety and no long term problems noted. On the skin some patients note a darkening and slight irritation when it is used on the upper eyelids.
When Latisse® is used to increase eyelash thickness and length, full results are often not seen until 16 weeks. It would not really stop the progression of hair loss for androgenetic alopecia patients, but possibly just lengthen and thicken the hairs like it does for the eyelids. Similarly, when used for eyelashes, results will gradually disappear if the treatment is stopped. The same can be assumed for the unapproved use of Latisse® as a hair restoration treatment. Once daily application is discontinued, the hair should eventually recede again leaving the user with the same thinning hair situation he or she started with.
Along the same lines, in order to maintain eyelashes grown by Latisse®, users must maintain a constant supply. While those using Latisse® for its FDA approved use for eyelashes may only need one bottle a month, those using it for hair restoration will need a much larger quantity given the size of the treatment area (3 or more of the 2-ounce bottles). With each prescription bottle of Latisse® costing an average of $100 to $150 a bottle, patients could easily spend upwards of $450 a month for as long as they want their hair restoration results to last. It seems like a high cost considering Latisse® does not promise to stop the progression of patterned baldness.
Currently FDA approved, topical and oral treatments like Rogaine®, Propecia®, and Proscar® are available to help slow and even stop hair loss; growing some hair back is also a possibility with some of these products. These products stop the progression of loss in over 80% of all patients who take/use them daily. If Latisse® does work, it would be applied in addition to the preventers of progression like Propecia®. Follicular unit hair transplant is a surgical procedure that produces permanent hair restoration results from hair loss as a result of hormones, trauma, androgenetic alopecia, and more. It’s important to remember that while off-label uses of products like Latisse® and Botox® do have potential, they also have potential for unexplored side effects until further studied.
For more information on the current list of FDA approved non-surgical and surgical hair restoration options, contact our office. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter with the latest news and update in hair restoration and research.
The way we treat our bodies is often evident in how we feel and act. For example, if you eat junk food and then try to run a half marathon the next day, chances are your body will not react positively. You’ll feel sluggish, tired, and probably perform poorly. While some symptoms of mistreatment are obvious to us, like the stomachache and sore muscles after your junk food run, others are less obvious, but just as important to note.
Because you hair relies on a steady supply of nutrients and blood from your body, it is a fairly accurate barometer in determining your overall health. All the factors of wellness (like a balanced diet, adequate exercise, and a healthy lifestyle) contribute to producing a strong body as well as healthy hair.
A properly balanced diet helps all patients maintain healthy hair. Protein and iron consumption are imperative to the production of hair. Recently converted vegetarians, those on fad diets, as well as many post-bariatric surgery patients may have a hard time getting an adequate amount of protein, resulting in minor and temporary hair loss or breakage. As soon as the right amount of protein is added back into the diet, though, the hair loss typically ceases and hair regrows. Free radicals in polluted environments can also attack cells including those that help produce healthy-looking hair. Smoking produces similar results.
Those with patterned baldness (androgenetic alopecia) are genetically predisposed to hair loss, though, and will not benefit from diet and exercise regimen changes. To adequately treat your hair loss, it is important to receive a diagnosis from an expert in hair loss and hair replacement.
Circulatory problems can also cause hair loss. When the body lacks adequate circulation, it focuses on supplying blood to the organs within your torso, and extremities like your arms and legs suffer first in poor circulation. Because hair in the anagen (growth) stage is supplied with nutrients through blood flow, the body’s circulation priorities often miss supplying that necessary blood to the scalp resulting in hair loss.
If something is off balance in your body, your hair will show it. In fact, your hair can track the use of certain medications or drugs within the last 30 to 90 days. While not all hair loss is caused by external factors like diet and health conditions, the hair is a fairly accurate barometer of overall health in adults who do not have patterned baldness.
Whether your hair loss is caused by patterned baldness or an external factor, it is important to have the cause properly diagnosed before beginning treatment. Dr. Edmond Griffin is a board certified dermatologist and a recognized expert in the specialty of hair loss and hair replacement surgery.
The Griffin Center for Hair Restoration and Research was recently featured in Men’s Book Atlanta magazine’s December issue to answer your frequently asked questions about men’s hair loss misconceptions and causes, as well as hair restoration surgery options. Make sure to get your copy today and check it out!
Losing hair is a natural part of the hair growth cycle. We lose hair so that new hair can replace it. However, when hair does not grow back as it should, we start to notice thinning hair and a more visible scalp through the hair. In order to understand hair loss, one must understand normal hair growth and shedding cycles.
The hair growth cycle is ongoing, and on an average day, 90% of your hair is in the resting phase while the other 10% is either growing or shedding. Balding occurs when the hair sheds, and no hair re-grows to replace it. Hair is made of keratin, the same material that makes up your nails and the outer layer of your skin. Hair is really a dead structure while the follicular bulb is the growing center. Because the actual strand of hair is not alive, hot curlers, chemical processing, hard plastic combs can cause damage and lead to split ends and fracturing of the shafts.
The hair growth cycle begins with the anagen or growth phase. During this phase cells in the root of the hair divide to add to the hair shaft. Depending on your genetics, the growth phase can last anywhere from 2 to 6 years. As the anagen phase comes to an end, an unknown signal tells the hair to enter the next stage. The hair grows about a fourth of an inch each month, and though it is technically dead, a healthy hair care regimen can keep it looking beautiful while it’s in the anagen phase.
The catagen stage follows the anagen phase and is made up of a 2-3 week transitional period in which the hair is no longer growing. During this stage, a club hair is formed. A club hair occurs when the section of the hair follicle attaches to the hair shaft, cutting the follicle off from its blood supply and the cells that produce new hair. This club hair leads to the next stage of the hair growth and shedding cycle.
The final stage of the hair growth and shedding cycle is the telogen or resting phase. During this two to four month phase, the hair begins to shed at normal levels, and the anagen phase begins again producing new hair.
The average person sheds around 100 telogen-stage hairs a day between brushing the hair, showering, and other activities. High-stress and trauma like high fevers, nutritional deficiencies, pneumonia, and accidents can cause hair to shed in higher than normal amounts. Patterned baldness (androgenetic alopecia) occurs when hair production slows and beings to produce weak, shorter hairs, eventually ceasing to grow completely in some areas.
Men and women often lose hair for different reasons and should be properly diagnosed before beginning any hair restoration treatment. Depending on the cause of your hair loss, there are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options including hair restoration surgery and medications like Propecia®, Rogaine®, and Proscar®.
For more information on hair loss causes and hair restoration, contact the Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter for more hair regrowth news and updates.
A study published in the journal Dermatology shows that women lose more hair during autumn than they do in other seasons. Swedish researchers gathered a sample of 823 women and tracked their hair growth and shedding cycles.
Each person goes through the hair growth and shedding cycle. In the anagen phase also known as the growth phase of the hair follicle, new hair cells are produced. The catagen phase is where the hair is no longer growing but the follicle is shrinking. The final stage, the telogen phase, occurs when the hair is in a resting state, no longer growing, but on the verge of shedding. The hair stays in this resting state for about three months when it begins to shed, and the anagen phase begins gradually. Therefore, the average patient loses about 100 hairs per day. At the end of the telogen phase, the hair cycle of growth begins again, and if you could watch the follicular opening you would see a new hair emerge in a couple of weeks.
Though each individual’s hair growth and shedding cycle schedules will vary slightly, the researchers found that the women studied had the highest percentage of hair in the telogen stage at the end of summer. This means that after a period of time, these women will have some hair loss since the resting phase is always followed by a shedding. During this time, the patient may feel that his or her hair is thinning with the natural loss of hair that is occurring. The same sort of hair-loss phasing happens, though with a lower percentage of hair, in the spring as well. Researchers speculate that this extra amount of lost hair may be brought about by evolution, since the body seems to hold on to hair during the warmer months to protect the scalp from the summer sun.
For those people who experience hair loss with no growth to follow it, The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research offers both non-surgical and surgical treatment and prevention options for women’s hair loss. Most commonly this hair loss is the result of female patterned hair loss, and the minuturization of hairs which eventually do not return. This process can be slowed and even in some cases reversed with treatment.
Contact us for more information on hair loss or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Edmond Griffin, hair restoration specialist. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates.
On Wednesday, November 9th, Dermatology Associates of Atlanta will host Cosmetic Day. Be sure to join us to save on popular skin treatments like Fraxel® cosmetic laser treatments, Botox® and Dysport® cosmetic injectables, and facial fillers, plus you’ll receive discounts on spa products from Skin Medics™ Medical Spa. See the flyer below for details and call to schedule your appointment at 404-382-2970.