[Connaght Tribune: Tribune Life (supplement) Friday, November 4th, 2005. By Bernie Ni Fhlatharta.]
Deborah Gets to the Root of Your Hair Problems
It is said that hair is a woman's crowning glory but the number of men concerned about hair loss and thinning would indicate that the same thing could be said about men.
And yet, eighty per cent of alopecia conditions (where bits or all of the hair falls out) could be self-inflicted - in other words it could be caused by poor diet, drugs, stress, hair styling techniques, too much sun etc.
Now for the first time ever in Galway. or indeed in the West of Ireland, a hair and scalp specialist, known as a trichologist, has set up a practice in the city.
Deborah Whelan who is a registered trichologist with a very successful Trichological Clinic in Manchester, England, has relocated to Ireland and is currently building a house in Athenry with her husband Thomas Burke.
A mother of two young children, she is delighted to be opening her business in Galway, especially as she is the only qualified trichologist outside of Dublin.
Trichology is the science and study of hair and clinical Trichology is the disgnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the hair and scalp, anything from dandruff to hair loss, from ringworm to psoriasis.
Hair is a barometer of health and can be a reflection of a persons' lifestyle, indicating the stresses, tensions and variations in the body's system. Yet many people would not dream of consulting their doctor about a hair or scalp problem, believing it to be too petty. However, Deborah has had referrals from GPs and is happy to spend time on these problems.
Hair loss she says can cause great distress and some clients have said to her that they would rather have cancer than lose their hair. In fact. losing hair as a result of chemotherapy can be more distressing than coping with the disease for some people and some of her clients have been or are cancer patients.
Deborah says that hair is indeed a barometer of health and can be a reflection of an individuals' lifestyle. The solution could be simple. A change of diet, improved hair care or maybe some specialist treatment. Either way, Deborah is qualified to diagnose, treat and advise.
The initial consultation could last up to one hour where Deborah will assess the person's health and lifestyle and discover if someone is on medication. Sometimes Deborah might refer a client to a medical doctor.
She assures that she treats male baldness with sensitivity and sympathy. “We use a lot of topical solutions and we use Ultra Violet Therapy. We have a lot of success with the treatments we use and most of them can be used at home. People suffer on and don't realise that there are treatments for hair and scalp ailments.
“Often it is just a build up of debris or dead skin cells that can cause hair loss. We diagnose alopecia, it's commonly post partum alopecia. We get a lot of women at the clinic, many of their ailments are stress related, like psoriasis.”
Deborah says that people shouldn't be embarrassed about seeking help for something as common as serious dandruff. She stresses that people should investigate what causes it and that she's qualified to diagnose. Without giving away any secrets she explains that she can diagnose the root cause by looking at the colour of scale. Very often, it can be a reaction to dairy products, she adds.
Most people who come to me are devastated by their condition. Some are hysterical. Hair loss or skin ailments are a huge problem for many. Worse still a lot of women will say that they hate looking in the mirror at themselves and would rather have cancer than have their hair fall out,” she says.
English television presented, Gail Porter is currently in the news because of her hair loss and she has told the Press that she is being treated by a trichologist.
Another famous person who suffered hair loss was Princess Caroline of Monaco. Her hair resumed to normal eventually but meanwhile she wore a headscarf very elegantly. It was hard for her to hide away as she is always being photographed.
Forty percent of women who come to the clinic because of hair loss have recently changed their diet. Deborah ofter ask clients to have blood tests done and reassess their diet so she can pinpoint the root of the problem. Sometimes problems can be caused by something they have been in contct with like hair dye, for instance.
Deborah's Scalp and Hair Clinic is now open for business at 37 Eyre Street (facing Debenhams), Galway City. Tel: 091 565148.