I met Shirley at a Keziah Connections event. We were chatting and I thought, what a lovely lady, then she told me that she was a trichologist and I started to bombard her with questions. In the UK we head to the GP for everything but with an increasing number of hair products, hair adornments and extensions on the market and a wealth of ‘hair gurus’ on YouTube, it is really important to have a professional help us to separate hair fact from hair fiction. Shirley qualified as a trichologist in 1991 and has a wealth of experience, below, she explains about her work…
Qualifying: I was working in a private hair clinic in Birmingham I decided to apply to study at the Institute of Trichology in London (IOT). To prepare for the course I returned to college and studied, chemistry, biology, and physics, although I must say I dropped physics – far too difficult!
First job: A hair clinic in Hampstead looking after the tresses of some of the rich and famous – and the not so famous. After qualifying I worked at ‘The Hair and Scalp Hospital in Brixton’ which sadly closed some years ago. This proved invaluable and it was here I really learnt my craft as every type of disorder and condition was seen there.
Current job: I run a practice The Hair and Scalp Clinic inside the wonderful Natures Spa in Hendon and with the exception of yellow pages have never advertised. Most of my referrals come via the IOT- website but mainly through word of mouth.
Why visit a trichologist? There are approximately 600 dermatologists in the UK. That’s why it is often difficult to get a referral and when you do, you may only get 10 – 15 minutes with him or her. Trichologists often work with dermatologists but have the advantage of seeing each patient for typically one hour. Our treatment is not aggressive and we have more time to monitor the patient.
Consultation and Treatment: Anyone coming to see me will always receive a consultation lasting up to an hour. I am registered on the Institute’s (IOT) website and am bound by their code of conduct. After the initial consultation patients are emailed with a summary of our discussion and a fact sheet on the condition. Treatment varies depending on the condition, so patients may need to obtain a blood test to ascertain deficiencies and/or inflammation
Hair and scalp conditions: Patients come to me with different conditions every day but some conditions are common in certain ethnic groups. Those with afro hair often suffer with mechanical and/or chemical trauma such as traction alopecia and contact dermatitis. In black men folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle) is also very common. In my Asian patients I frequently see female and male pattern loss; Caucasian male and female patients suffer the same but in women the condition‘frontal fibrosing appears to be on the increase. However, scaly conditions such as seborrheoic eczema affects all groups.
Products: Trichologists also make up their own products – Keratolylics (scalp cleanser) shampoos and conditioners. These are made to treat specific conditions, although some trichologists may have a range of products for general retail.
Nutritional therapy: Hair is the barometer of health so it makes sense to look at nutrition, particularly with conditions such as psoriasis and seborhoeic eczema.
My interest in nutrition came after my own illness where I suffered with an over active thyroid gland. The thyroid controls your metabolism and in my case I had difficulty maintaining my weight and although I ate copious amounts I was underweight – a good problem to have but with it comes other problems – palpitations, depression, nervous energy – the list is endless. After surgery I embarked on my own health recovery and decided to study for a diploma in natural nutrition which is now a key part of my service.
I am really happy that Shirley has agreed to do a Question and Answer post over the next few weeks so if you have any questions for her about anything hair related please leave me a comment or tweet me @patentpurple or drop me an email email@example.com
To contact Shirley you can tweet her @Shirley_thasc or email her Shirley@thehairandscalpclinic.co.uk and look out for her in ‘The Truth About Black Hair’ a documentary coming out in 2014. Produced by the talented sisters Bisola and Olayinka Fasanya of Noire Essence http://www.thetruthaboutblackhair.com/