The Hair Clinic London

Hair We Go: A Brief History Of Trichology For Beginners

If you are thinning somewhat on top, you may have a major choice to make; you can allow nature to take its course and accept that a receding hairline or thinning crop of hair is just part of life and the fate of millions. Or you can seek some treatment to either slow down or even reverse the process.

Should you choose the latter, you may soon be paying a visit to a trichology clinic. But you might wonder just how long the scientific discipline of trichology (the study of hair loss) has been going.

What is notable from older texts from ancient Egypt to the Bible is that diseases of the head were common concerns, although some of these would be about skin disease rather than specifically about hair loss.

That may lead some to speculate about how physicians might have responded. You might imagine ancient people using all kinds of weird and wonderful potions to try to restore hair, with tales of sheep dung, pigeon blood, or magic rituals all involved.   

To an extent, this was true, although it might be suggested that such ‘quack’ cures are still popular in our supposedly enlightened age.

However, and perhaps to the disappointment of some, history is not always so exotic. In India, for instance, hair growth was treated as being something achieved through the topical applications of various oils, herbs, or even egg yolks.

Many of these ideas have credence, as certain substances can certainly make hair cleaner or stronger. However, when it comes to the issue of tackling baldness, people in days of yore did not get to the (literal) root of it.

Indeed, the rise of modern science might have given us telescopes, mapping, electricity and other very useful things centuries ago, but realistically, baldness seems to have been a lower priority. It was only in the early 20th century that the issue began to be taken seriously in an organised fashion.

This occurred in London in 1902, when a group of like-minded physicians formed the College of Diseases of the Hair, which would later be renamed the Incorporated Institute of Trichologists when it became a company in 1925. Three years later, The Scalp and Hair Hospital, located at Fitzroy Square in central London, was established.

Progress in developing the science and treatments was hampered first by the small size of the hospital, and then by the war, with the hair-raising prospect of a Nazi invasion, faced down by the determination of the bald Winston Churchill never to surrender (to the Germans, not hair loss). Moreover, the hospital was then destroyed in a bombing raid.

After the war, the organisation got back to work and over the decades it has formed close partnerships with other bodies linked to skin, hair and cosmetic medicine, joining the Associate Parliamentary Group on Skin in the 1990s and the Dermatology Council for England in 2012.

What we now know about hair loss is far greater than in the past, but whether it is the role stress plays in hair loss or how proteins and follicles work, the fact remains that hair loss will always be a medical challenge, for which miracle cures may be in short supply but interest and research effort will not.