SCIENTISTS have developed a baseball cap that zaps your scalp – and could reverse male balding.
Experts first created a wireless patch that can stimulate the scalp with electric pulses to encourage hair growth.
The 1mm-thick plastic patch contains layers of differently-charged materials that produce electricity when they come into contact and separate again.
It’s a phenomenon known as the triboelectric effect and can result in faster hair re-growth than being hooked up to a machine for several hours a day.
The team, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tested it out on the back’s of shaved lab rats and found that when they moved it caused the flexible patch to bend and stretch.
They found that this movement activated the triboelectric effect and noted faster growth than in rats who had been given minoxidil lotion – a common hair loss treatment.
Next the team, led by Xudong Wang, tested the patch on mice that were hairless because of a genetic deficiency.
They found that after nine days, 2mm-long fur had grown on their skin under the patch compared with 1mm-long hair that grown on skin treated with minoxidil.
The density of the hair was also three times greater for the patch-treated areas.
Wang also tested the patch on his dad, who has been going bald for the past few years.
He told New Scientist: “It helped him to grow a lot of new hairs after one month.”
His team has now designed a baseball cap that encases the whole scalp in triboelectric materials.
Wang is seeking approval to test it in men in a clinical trial.
He says it shouldn’t be uncomfortable to wear because it produces very gentle electric pulses.
However, the hat will only work in men who are currently losing their hair or have recently become bald, because the skin loses its ability to generate new hair follicles after many years of baldness, he added.
It’s also unlikely to work as well when men sleep because they don’t produce as many movements to power the device.
What is male pattern baldness?
Male pattern hair loss (MPHL) is the most common type of hair loss in men.
It is also known as androgenetic alopecia and affects about half of men over the age of 50.
It is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. A hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes a change in the hair
follicles on the scalp.
The hairs produced by the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter, shorter in length and lighter in colour until eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
It’s believed to be a hereditary condition, inherited from either or both parents.
The usual pattern of hair loss is a receding frontal hairline and loss of hair from the top of the head.
Hairs in the affected areas are initially smaller in diameter, and shorter compared to hairs in unaffected areas, before they become absent.
The diagnosis is usually based on the history of scalp hair loss on the front/ top of the head or receding hairline, the pattern of hair loss and a family history of similar hair loss.
As of yet, there’s no cure but there are various treatments including topical and oral medication, as well as surgery which can be sought privately.
Source: British Association of Dermatologists
He added:” Small head movements during normal daily activity should be enough to power the device.”
Previously, we reported on a breakthrough treatment from a team of scientists who say they have used stem cells to develop a way of making “unlimited” hair.
In ground-breaking trials, human cells were grafted on to mice cells and attached to tiny “scaffolds” to help them grow straight.
They were then placed under the skin, and emerged through it.
The team is now working towards tests on humans.
Around four in ten Brit fellas suffer some form of baldness.
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Currently only two drugs, minoxidil and finasteride, are available to treat the condition.
But both have side-effects and do not always work.
The only other option to balding blokes is hair transplantation, which can cost up to £30,000.
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