Tackling the pitfalls of hair loss

BY CINDY CARTER, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG –Pinellas Technical College (PTC), located at 901 34th St. S, was all abuzz with students and professionals alike all set to wage war on hair loss and deteriorating body images.

With September being National Alopecia Awareness Month, experts from area businesses were on hand to give their opinions and offer solutions to those suffering from temporary or permanent hair loss.

For three years the Alopecia Awareness seminar has catered to those suffering with hair loss. A difficult diagnosis to deal with, alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system in which those afflicted can lose hair on their scalp, body, even their eyelashes and eyebrows. There are many different types of alopecia; while some have temporary shedding of hair others experience permanent baldness.

Marlo Scott, owner of Hair It Iz Natural & Chemical Salon and the force behind the event, aims to educate, encourage and inspire people to find solutions before the problem gets out of hand.

As president of Alopecia Awareness Tampa Bay Association, Inc. (ATBA), Scott feels that individuals suffering from hair loss must have a nurturing and educated hairstylist who can advise them and take care of their needs.

Some 50 nursing and cosmetology students learned the many causes of hair loss such as stress, side effects from medication, harmful styling techniques and chronic disease such as cancer, thyroid issues and anemia. If a person is suffering from a medical condition, the body will place its resources elsewhere to ensure that vital organs survive in stressful situations. Unfortunately hair in not a vital organ.

“I’m here to support hair loss for real people and anybody that goes through high blood pressure, diabetes or any disease that leads to renal failure,” said Janice Starling-Williams.

Founder of All Kidney Patient Support Group, Starling-Williams has seen the effects of what certain drugs and diseases can do to the hair follicles. A recipient of a kidney herself, she’s dealt with the ups and downs of lost strands. “It’s important that we address the issues with your hair.”

Laser Hair and Scalp Clinic Director John Satino did some straight talking about what can be rationally expected when making the decision to undergo treatment for absent hair. So what is the first line of defense? The use of topical solutions.

“It either works or doesn’t for you,” he said of minoxidil, known by most by its brand name Rogaine. Currently offered over the counter in topical form, users have had some success. “The drug does work to some degree.”

But Satino cautions that all heads are not the same. For instance, he explained to seminar attendees that black skin is thicker than Caucasian skin with females having lighter skin than males. “All these things have to be taken into consideration,” he said.

Other options include low-level laser treatments.  The laser penetrates the tissue and turbo charges it, which can result in hair growth. And although the Laser Hair and Scalp Clinic offers it, it’s also used in a lot of local salons.

Stem cell injections are another avenue to check out, but be forewarned, it may cost you. It’s about $1,200 for one series of injections and the cost can add up if more is needed.

“If a patient comes in and we do see results, those patients sometimes will want to do another set of injections to see if we can do a little better,” said Satino. But about 90 percent of their patients end up only needing one set of injections and if the first set doesn’t appear to be working, the clinic usually won’t see a need to pursue it further.

If referred by a doctor or hairstylist, consultations are free, which could save $75, so do the research and start taking steps to revitalize not only your head, but your overall health.

Wigs were crafted and donated to ATBA for hair loss sufferers by PTC students.  Annie’s Beauty Supply and J Lo Beauty Supply also donated wigs to the cause.

Other speakers at the event focused on improving vitality and body image. Jackie Williams with It Works!, a mail order cosmetic company, presented products that are popular right now in enhancing a better overall appearance such as the Ultimate Body Applicator, a site-specific contouring treatment that is rumored to be used by celebrities. The company offers supplements and Williams looks at It Works! as a health and wellness company for today’s woman.

“I’ve tried just about everything they have so I know for myself it works,” testified Williams.

Their most asked for product is The Wrap, advertised as tightening, toning and firming whatever area you put it on in just 45 minutes.

“But I will tell you, it all depends on what you’re carrying,” said Williams who kept it real for the audience. Someone who has a lot of extra weight around the middle may not see the same results as those with less poundage. Williams also shared that it works on stretch marks as well.

So whether you’re suffering from alopecia or your body just needs a little boost, check out the companies and their services or products yourself. You may just find the answer to your hair and skin needs. Check out myitworks.com and newhairlaser.com for more information.

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