The amount of information these can give is often crucial in the treatment of falling, thinning hair. My consultants, as well as myself, have a number of ‘blood profiles’ that we recommend in relevant cases. The tests are administered by a doctor who sends the blood drawn to a laboratory for analysis according to the profile we recommend. Alternatively, we send the client direct to the laboratory for the profile. Within a week or so, the doctor’s laboratory sends a copy of the results for our own analysis as to how they can effect the hair. A typical profile, and one we use most, looks at all iron levels, including ferritin (iron stores), red and white blood cells, zinc, vitamin B12, folic acid and thyroids. Sometimes we ask also for hormonal levels and full blood chemistries. The problem with hormone tests, i.e. oestrogens (female hormones) and androgens (male hormones), is that they may be within the normal reference range but still affect the hair. So much depends on the susceptibility of the hair follicles. For example, androgens. You don’t need to have excessive androgens to have the hair affected adversely. It is known that much female and male pattern thinning is ‘androgen dependent’, i.e. it depends on the presence of androgens. But arguably you can have a high level and they have no effect on somebody who doesn’t have genetically susceptible hair follicles. On the other hand, normal or even low normal levels can effect those more genetically sensitive. Similarly, readings in the normal reference range of thyroid, iron, ferritin, B12, folic acid, etc. effect some people’s hair follicles more than others.
Then there is the question of how to read blood test results. In many instances all the results may be in the normal reference range, and if you have asked your doctor to arrange the tests, he may well say that everything is normal – and don’t worry! But you do (and should) worry, because your hair is thinning and there are normals and normals, so to speak. There can be low normal, mid-normal and high normal. The highs and the lows can certainly be a culprit. Ferritin may have a reference range of, say, 10-130. The results show a reading of 20 and your doctor may say, ‘There you are – it’s normal.’ However, for hair, it’s not. Opdmum ferritin for hair is about 70. Anything considerably less can be problematical. Haemoglobin, by which anaemia is measured, has a reference range of 11.5-16.5. A ‘normal’ reading of 11.5 or even 12 can also result in hair growth interference.
Thyroid is another example of how low or high normals can effect hair. The thyroid can be very complicated, and those with hypo (low) or hyper (high) who are on medication can fluctuate, and this often causes sporadic hair fall.
Biochemistries are somedmes required. These measure various liver and kidney functions, proteins, cholesterol, triglycerides, potassium, sodium, etc., all of which can have an effect on hair.
Blood tests are best taken after a fast of twelve hours, ideally in the morning before 11 a.m., without having breakfast. Subsequent tests should be taken at approximately the same time and circumstances for accurate comparison as the hair condition improves, so that any supplements or medication can be adjusted.