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The Marriage of Dermatology and Hair Care: A Q&A with Fabio Rinaldi, MD

Fabio Rinaldi, MD

By: Katie Anderson
Posted: April 3, 2013

From anti-hair loss and scalp treatments to heat protection and high-shine shampoos, the hair care industry is big business, reaching $50.6 billion globally in 2012 according to Datamonitor, representing a 3.7% growth from 2011. At in-cosmetics 2013, the Hair Science in Cosmetic Research workshop will examine the science behind hair care formulations and ingredient development.

Fabio Rinaldi, MD, a dermatologist with Studio Rinaldi & Associates S.r.l. and the International Hair Research Foundation, is speaking as part of this workshop, and he shared his thoughts on the role of dermatology in hair care formulation with GCI magazine's sister publication Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine.

How are some cosmetic products used in dermatology and why?
Fabio Rinaldi, MD: Cosmetics are often part of dermatological therapy, as an adjuvant, for maintenance or for indication for mild diseases. The use of a cosmetics in dermatology depends on the therapeutic needs of the patient, with the possibility of using a quasi-drug to care for hair and skin. More and more, cosmetics are a fundamental tool for dermatologists.

How are some nutritional supplements used in dermatology and why?
FR: Nutritional supplements (NS) may be used in many dermatological diseases and in para-physiological conditions. I think that nutritional supplements can help dermatologists treat skin and hair diseases, often more than a drug can. Scientific research gives us the opportunity to develop effective and safe NS, and in our experience for some conditions like androgenic alopecia or telogenic defluvium, NS is the first choice of treatment. More and more, NS are useful to treat subjects who have a contraindication to drug treatment and who prefer NS over drugs for the fear of side-effects. Sometimes a NS can be important as an adjuvant to the pharmacological therapy.

Should cosmetic treatments and supplements be used with prescriptions for scalp disorders? How does this help?
FR: Cosmetic treatments and supplements may be prescribed for many scalp disorders, thanks to some active ingredients that can control sebaceous gland activity, hair cycle, scalp disorders for use of dyes, cosmetics and sun-exposure. We can find many products specific for these problems in the market.

What are some effective cosmetic products and supplements for hair loss? For other diseases?
FR: Well known substances for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia are polyunsaturated anti-5 alpha-reductase fatty acids and natural substances with an effect on aromatase. In addition, new knowledge of molecular biology has clarified the mechanism of action on cellular ATP of some amino acids (such as ornithine) and polyamines (such as spermidine). The polypeptides are acting as mimicking growth factors and may maintain the anagen phase of the hair follicle. They may also sometimes stimulate the activity of stem cells present at the scalp level. In many inflammatory disorders, cosmetic products and supplements can reduce the inflammation and the fibrosis of the scalp.

What future technologies do you think can benefit the treatment of scalp disorders?
FR: Nanotechnologies and ultra-specific polypeptides will give us some effective products to treat most scalp disorders. The key of this activity will always be the control of inflammatory skin receptors, fibrosis and the hair cycle. We are not so far from the first results.

What are some recent advancements in research of the scalp?
FR: The most important advancements are biological research about hair cycle, melanocyte activities of the hair follicle and scalp and hair aging. The knowledge of cell biology, stem cell activity and endocrinal mechanism of regulation of the hair follicle are highlighting new therapeutic ways, and cosmetics and supplements will be protagonists in this field, in my opinion.