Evaluate your progress with an objective tool

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Hey everyone,

I’ve recently come across a method that I’d like to share with you. I’ve been dealing with Androgen alopecia and I’m currently undergoing treatment with dutasteride and minoxidil. I shaved my head bald last year, so it’s been challenging to track my progress. I’ve posted multiple pictures on Tressless and here to get your opinions, but due to different lighting and possible bias, I’ve found it difficult to get an accurate assessment of my progress. As a biomedical engineer, I prefer objective results, which is why I’ve been looking for tools to count my hair.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any free software tools for this in the EU. So, I’ve discovered a method to count hair follicles using freely available tools and I’ve been amazed by its accuracy. I wanted to share this method with you in case you’d like to evaluate your hair count progress too.

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Step 1: Install ImageJ
Download ImageJ: Visit the ImageJ website and download the version that suits your operating system.

Install ImageJ: Follow the installation instructions provided on the website.

Step 2: Prepare Your Image
Capture a High-Quality Image: Use a good camera or microscope to take a clear, high-resolution image of the scalp area.

Transfer Image to Your Computer: Ensure the image is in a format supported by ImageJ (e.g., JPEG, PNG, TIFF).

Step 3: Open Image in ImageJ
Launch ImageJ: Open the ImageJ application.

Open Your Image: Go to File > Open and select your image file.

Step 4: Preprocess the Image
Crop an area that you can easily locate in multiple photos.

Convert to Grayscale (if needed): If your image is in color, convert it to grayscale for easier processing.

Go to Image > Type > 8-bit.

Enhance Contrast: Improve the contrast to make hair follicles more distinguishable.

Go to Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast and adjust the sliders until follicles are clear.

Alternatively, use Image > Adjust > Auto Contrast.

Step 5: Apply Threshold
Set Threshold: Use thresholding to segment the follicles from the background.

Go to Image > Adjust > Threshold.

Adjust the sliders until the follicles are highlighted in red. Ensure that only the follicles are highlighted, not the surrounding skin.

r/tressless - Evaluate your progress with an objective tool
Step 6: Analyze Particles (Follicles)
Analyze Particles: This step will count and measure the follicles.

Go to Analyze > Analyze Particles.

In the dialog box, set the size and circularity parameters to filter out non-follicle particles. A good starting point for size might be 10-500 pixels (adjust based on your image resolution), and for circularity, you might start with 0.3-1.0.

Check the options for Display Results, Summarize, and Exclude on edges.

Click OK.

Step 7: Review Results
Results Table: A results table will pop up showing the count and measurements of the detected follicles.

Summary: A summary window will show the total count of follicles.

r/tressless - Evaluate your progress with an objective tool
Step 8: Refine Your Analysis (if needed)
Adjust Threshold or Parameters: If the results are not accurate, you may need to go back and adjust the threshold settings or particle analysis parameters.

Repeat Analysis: Repeat the analysis with adjusted settings until you get accurate results.

Step 9: Save Your Results
Save Results: Save the results table for further analysis or record-keeping.

Go to File > Save As in the results table window to save the data.

Step 10: Document Your Process
Save Process: Save the workflow and settings used in ImageJ to ensure reproducibility in future analyses.

I hope this guide will be helpful to some of you!

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