Pittsburgh Steelers professional football player and safety, Troy Polamalu, has made quite a name for himself off the field of football in humerous television commercials. In August of 2010 Procter & Gamble, producers of Head & Shoulders shampoo, took out a million-dollar insurance policy for Polamalu’s hair. To our knowledge his hair still looks strong and healthy as Troy shows no signs of hair loss or disease. But is his youthful healthy scalp and hair related to the hair product he uses?
We will probably never know for certain, but a healthy scalp is vital to good hair growth. For those patients who suffer with an itchy scalp or other scalp related problems, have you every wondered why your shampoo is not completely stopping your seemingly dry itchy scalp or hair loss?
The answer to that question was discovered in a new study on the role of inflammation in hair loss published today in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. The study, “The Role of Inflammation and Immunity in the Pathogenesis of Androgenetic Alopecia,” was performed by physicians from Cornell and Duke University, and well-known New York dermatologist, Dr. Neil Sadick. The prime objective of the study was to determine the role of immunity and inflammation in women who experience hair loss.
In plain english, the researchers concluded that hair loss and an itchy scalp that you thought was caused by dandruff or dry scalp, may actually be caused by inflammation of the hair follicle and surrounding skin anatomic structures like the Bulge and basal layer of the skin. “This is an excellent study that gives new insight into how hair loss occurs,” says Dr. Ken Williams, Irvine, California hair restoration physician. Williams adds, “they used topical steroid creams as a part of their treatment protocol and they clearly demonstrated how successful it can be in treating hair loss. But we need more confirming data before treatment protocols are established.”
An unexpected finding from this study were specific body proteins, called immunoglobulins and complement, were found deposited in portions of the skin (epidermis or dermis) and hair follicle. These unique proteins are hypothesized to cause a type of inflammatory response in the hair follicle that interferes with the physiology of hair cycle or growth. Although this study details the hair loss physiology in very technical and scientific language, these inflammatory proteins, nonetheless, are felt to interfere with the hair cycle.