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Can Body Hair be Used Instead of Scalp Hair?

Published: 22nd February 2022

At Lextox, we specialise in hair drug and alcohol testing for family law cases. Although scalp hair is the preferred sample type when undertaking testing, body hair can also be collected if necessary.

At the time of the sample collection, if your client has little to no scalp hair, our Sample Collectors are trained and are able to collect a body hair sample instead.

Differences between scalp and body hair

The hair growth cycle comprises of three phases, active growing (anagen phase), transition (catagen phase) and resting (telogen phase). There are significant differences in the relative proportions of actively growing hair and resting hair between different areas on the body.

Similarly to scalp hair, on average body hair grows at a rate of 1cm per month, however the growth rate varies depending on the site of the body hair. In addition, body hair has a different growth cycle to that of scalp hair, meaning that a greater proportion of the hair remains on the body in it’s resting (non-growing) or telogen phase. Our experts consider the different growth cycles and growth rates of different types of body hair (chest, underarm, leg) when interpreting the analysis results.

For this reason, body hair samples are analysed as a whole sample and are unable to be segmented into a month by month analysis.

This means that body hair samples can be used to detect drugs and alcohol markers, however an exact time period covered by the body sample is unable to be determined. An approximate maximum time period can be calculated based on the length of the sample and the type (i.e. where on the body it is collected).

Can hair samples be taken from anywhere on the body?

Only chest, leg and arm hair samples can be used to test for the alcohol markers Etg and EtPa. Axillary (underarm), beard and other body hair types cannot be analysed for alcohol markers due to potential external contamination of alcohol and an increase of levels due to sweat and sebum.

Lextox Sample Collectors are fully trained in the collection of scalp and body hair samples, and they will offer the collection of body hair in the absence of scalp hair.

For more information on hair drug and alcohol testing, please contact our dedicated Client Managers on 029 2048 4141 or email experts@lextox.co.uk.

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