The first thing you think of when you hear the word ozone isn’t hair. Ozone is a layer of gas that has more to do with the earth’s atmosphere. Without it, there would be no life. However, ozone isn’t just confined to the upper atmosphere; it can also be found at the ground level.
The problem is, as the European Environment Agency (EEA) so aptly puts it, “up there the ozone is ‘good’ – at ground level it is ‘bad'”. But then why are people so willingly trying to put ozone into their bodies for “medicinal” purposes? Ozone therapy for hair involves flushing the follicles with molecules of ozone to promote growth. Its safety and efficacy, however, remain in question.
What Is Ozone Therapy?
Ozone therapy is an ‘alternative’ treatment that’s used for the treatment of various illnesses. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, ozone has “no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy.” Ozone therapy has even been labelled nothing but “quackery.”
Keep in mind that ozone is a gas molecule made of three oxygen atoms. Being structurally unstable, the gas is highly reactive. Simply breathing it in can cause respiratory issues because of how immediately it reacts with the biomolecules. It can even be fatal if exposed in large quantities.
In spite of this, many clinics are marketing this treatment based on the idea that ozone contains more oxygen atoms than the more stable oxygen molecule – O2. Therefore, naturally, ozone is like a “super” form of oxygen (chemists would probably disagree).
As far as scientific evidence on it is concerned, there is some, but it’s quite limited. For instance, it has been used as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of the following:
- Chronic wounds
- Heart diseases
- Herniated discs
- Wound disinfection
- Neurodegenerative diseases
It is important to remember, however, that there aren’t enough studies on the effectiveness of this therapy, and its side effects can be quite severe. According to an article published in Oncology, oxygen treatment even resulted in 5 deaths among cancer patients. Therefore, before even considering ozone therapy, make sure to consult with a board-certified medical professional.
Ozone Therapy for Hair: Why Is It Used?
You’ll hear clinics making many different claims regarding the use of ozone for hair. According to them, ozone is good for hair because:
- It improves blood circulation
- It decreases oxidative stress
- It’s an antioxidant
- It promotes vascularisation (formation of blood vessels)
- It is anti-inflammatory
- It’s antimicrobial
Now, it’s true that ozone is an antimicrobial. It has been used as a disinfectant. But, the FDA warns that for ozone to have a germicidal effect, it must be present at concentrations far exceeding those that humans and animals can safely tolerate.
As far as oxidative stress is concerned, keep in mind that it refers to an imbalance between the free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Considering how ozone is an unstable molecule, this gas molecule is widely known to produce free radicals in the body.
It’s true that some studies show that ozone can actually improve blood circulation to an area, but those studies haven’t been about hair. And extrapolating from an already quite limited set of data won’t produce reliable results.
How Is Ozone Therapy For Hair Done?
Since inhalation of ozone is quite dangerous, there are devices available in the market that generate ozone. And for “treating hair loss,” clinics usually use ozone in the following way:
- Draw blood from the patient
- Mix ozone with the blood
- “Ozonated” blood is reinjected into the patient
Some clinics also use IV ozonised saline for this purpose. Usually, multiple sessions of this treatment are recommended (each session lasting for less than 30 mins) for the patients to get “good” results (if any). Sometimes, it’s also recommended with a hair transplant. One session before the procedure and one after.
That’s because it’s believed to speed up the recovery process. Not just that, but some clinics claim that by forming new blood vessels in the transplanted area, the grafts will be supplied with more oxygen and nutrients, which can improve their survival rate. Again, there’s no scientific evidence that proves as much.
Does Ozone Therapy For Hair Really Work?
Research reports hair loss as a side effect of ozone-based treatments, so its effectiveness in promoting hair growth can be easily called into question.
One study published in Ozone: Science and Engineering showed that the application of ozonized olive oil caused an inflammatory response in mice. Additionally, it ended up causing hair loss at the site where it was applied. So, whatever you hear about ozone therapy for hair, you need to take it with a grain of salt. The research about it’s contradictory and still in its infancy.
Is Ozone For Hair Safe?
No large, long-term studies have shown that ozone is safe for hair. Ozone-based therapies have been associated with many serious side effects, especially if inhaled or directly injected. Therefore, you have to be very careful about using any such device on your scalp. For instance, exposure to ozone can cause the following:
- Lung damage
- Chest pain
- Throat irritation
- Increased risk of respiratory infection
- Pulmonary oedema
- Visual impairment
According to some, ozone can be beneficial not only for androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness) but also for seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. Some even go as far as to say that ozone therapy can treat dandruff, frizz, and split ends by “revitalising” and “nourishing” hair, leaving it soft and shiny. But even anecdotal evidence of it is limited. And considering how dangerous it can be, it’s not considered worth it.
Even if you don’t get this treatment at a clinic, you’ll find ozonated oils and ozone combs available on the market. Currently, there’s no way of saying that those are safe or even give any results. So, you should stay clear of those as well.
How Much Does Ozone Treatment For Hair Cost?
A single session of ozone therapy for hair can cost you anywhere between £250-300 in the UK. However, there are different techniques, like 5-pass and 10-pass ozone, which use a special machine and cost more.
A single session of those can cost you anywhere between £500-1,000. And since you’ll be recommended multiple sessions of each, the total could be £1,000-5,000. This treatment will not be available on the NHS or private insurance. Keep in mind that many official organisations actively warn against it, so it’s not widely available either.
There is much that’s not known about ozone therapy for hair. Despite some clinics making tall claims, there is no definitive proof that what they are saying is true. The FDA has also issued a warning about ozone therapy, making it clear that it has no “medical application.” If you’re looking for a non-surgical hair loss treatment, you can consider taking certain medications or having platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP). For quite some time, the latter has been performed safely. In any case, if you’re experiencing hair loss, you should first consult a medical professional. Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors, and it can be treated in a variety of ways.