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  • As medical wigs have evolved, the entire industry is going forward toward its goal of obtaining the certification to affix the JIS mark to the product

Aderans Research & Development

As medical wigs have evolved, the entire industry is going forward toward its goal of obtaining the certification to affix the JIS mark to the product

We want to contribute to people who are distressed by their hair as much as possible".
Aderans and Fontaine have striven for development of a "wig" which can be safely used in patients together with a medical institute and were successful in developing a sophisticated medical wig "gentle on the sensitive skin".
This article presents the "Movement of obtaining the certification to affix the JIS mark to medical wigs".

Recently, the improvement of QOL (Quality of Life) has especially been placed emphasis on in healthcare field. It is said that raising patient's quality of life helps improve the level of mental comfort. Aderans, hair-related company, itself established its business "in an attempt to solve hair problems" in 1968. Since then, the company has made every effort in various fields emphasizing on QOL in wig wearers for medical purposes. For example, Aderans started its "Love charity campaign" which aimed to give elementary school or junior high school students who suffered from alopecia caused by any disease or injury a custom-made wig in 1978 and has presented more than 200 children with a wig. The company began to open beauty salons (wellness hair salons) in hospitals where there are many people who are distressed by hair loss caused by anticancer drugs, etc. Like this, the company has provided wig products or a variety of services related to hair to patients. The number of wellness hair salons has increased to 13 for 6 years since its start. Last year, Aderans started a joint research on "scalp care science" (science on scalp) with Department of Gerontological Nursing/Wound Care Management, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo as a new effort. The company contributes its energy to improvements and development of medical wigs from the scalp care side as a hair-related company. There are all sorts of medical wigs. "It is necessary to deal with symptoms of alopecia in the individual patients carefully" said Mr. Shinichi Sendo, Director of Product Development.

The latest medical wig based on the concept of scalp care

There are a variety of types of medical wigs according to intended use. They include "a full head wig" which covers the entire scalp, "a partial wig" which naturally covers the necessary part of the head, and "head protection hat" which is intended to protect surgical wound and contribute to rehabilitation in case of removal of bone blocks by external decompression for cerebral infarction or brain tumor. It goes without saying that people with disease in which hair falls out face a variety of concerns. Moreover, they are also limited with their activities. Especially, anticancer drugs cause not only alopecia but also itching scalp. "What we put the utmost importance on in development was whether such person can use it without anxiety. Because a wig comes in a direct contact with the scalp, it is necessary to develop materials used for a wig themselves. As such person has also an impaired immunity system, he or she feels greatly uncomfortable even when the seam comes into a slight contact with the scalp. Thus, meticulous technology is also required". Regarding alopecia caused by chemotherapy with anticancer drugs, etc. , there are some cases where a wig gets tighter or looser depending on the hair volume. It is "Rafra AI Fit Plus" developed and made available as a custom-made wig for medical use that deals with the change smoothly. The basis of developing this product lies in consideration for patient's scalp which becomes sensitive. Thus, this product has been contrived in many ways in order to solve these problems.

First, it employs double ultra-thin net which are breathing and gentle on the skin so it causes no abnormal scalp sensations such as roughness or tingling. Making the seam as thin as possible has materialized better fit and gives a natural feeling when wearing it. Moreover, Rafra AI Fit Plus needs no mounting tool. As the stretchy and soft net fits the movements of head or neck well, a wearer can ride a bicycle with ease even on a windy day. The product employs 94 times as breathable material for the hair part as the artificial skin used for the conventional wigs. Thanks to its unique functions, wearers feel comfortable even during hot and muggy summer months in Japan. Aderans launched "Rafra AI Fit Plus" on the market as a product for delicate and sensitive skin in this March. This product uses a material with antibacterial treatment (SEK certification mark, orange label) for the first time in wigs.

As I thought that wigs made by accumulated cutting-edge technology would cost a wearer a lot, I asked Mr. Sendo about the matter. "Medical wigs are a special sort of wig which is different from custom-made women's wigs or men's wigs. This ultra-thin net, sewing technology, sericin treatment and antibacterial treatment cannot be materialized without a joint research with textile manufacturer Seiren. In fact, if you have this wig specially made, it will cost one million yen. As we have a mission that we aim at contributing to society as a leading company in the field" from the day of establishment, we provide the custom-made wig at a price of 280,000 - 300,000 yen to customers.

The entire industry is going forward toward its goal of obtaining the certification to affix the JIS mark to medical wigs

There is further movement about medical wigs. Although it is not an activity of Aderans only, the Japan Hair Industry As sociation to which Aderans belongs takes leadership in acquiring the certification to affix the JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) mark to medical wigs and in applying for certification from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Aderans is actively involved in obtaining the certification of JIS mark. It is Mr. Hiroyuki Matsuoka, Sub Head of Corporate Planning Department, who struggles for coordinating the preparation for the standards of medical wigs. "When asked, "What is difference between fashion wigs and medical wigs", every wig manufacturer has own idea. This is the reality. However, if it is so, a person who wishes to purchase a wig does not know how to choose it. Thus, we have decided to develop standards which can tell potential customers what medical wigs are and standards which enable them to judge whether this medical wig is safe and comfortable". For the purpose of obtaining the certification of JIS mark, the Committee on Draft Preparation of JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) for Medical Wigs was newly inaugurated in August 2013 in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Committee members include manufacturers (wig manufacturers), scholars (healthcare professionals), consumers who participate in from the viewpoint of users. Professor Satoshi Itami, Professor of Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, took up the post of chairperson. The Committee on Draft Preparation started its activity by discussing what medical wigs are. Then, the Committee considered the scope of application for medical wigs. To what extent do medical wigs cover? Do they apply to alopecia, adverse effects of anticancer drugs, alopecia caused by radiotherapy, severe alopecia areata or congenital alopecia? Regarding wig materials, what are the optimal specifications for artificial skin which is basis? What test methods or criteria for a cap worn on the head as "a full head wig" should be used or what criteria for artificial skin (skin base) which comes in a direct contact with skin and an inner cap should be used? Moreover, aren't there any toxic substances as materials of cap? In order to solve these questions, we continue to make efforts in solving questions one by one and developing standards which take the patient scalp into consideration by conducting a variety of tests. "Medical wigs" are sold by mail order or by beauty salons in addition to wig manufacturers. The number of those dealing with medical wigs is increasing. There are poor-quality wigs among them, which may cause trouble. However, if standards are developed by major wig manufacturers only, the standards will become too detailed so the major wig manufacturers only can satisfy the standards. Thus, the standards should not be too strict. As it is difficult to keep such balance, we proceed with the acquisition of JIS mark certification carefully. As there is little information on medical wigs, a person who wishes to purchase does not know where to buy. We need to create products and environment which consumers can purchase without anxiety as soon as possible. "We expect that the confidence and transparency in the industry will improve through JIS mark certification of medical wigs. We believe that wig manufacturers not only pursue corporate profits but also assume responsibility for solving challenges through their business".

Aim at making medical wigs covered by medical expenses deduction and also covered by health insurance.

"Obtaining the certification to affix the JIS mark to medical wigs will lead to a feeling of security in patients. We believe that wig manufacturers can introduce a wig to a patient with assurance. Moreover, if medical wigs become covered by health insurance or medical expenses deduction in the future, patients' financial burden will be reduced as well as physical and psychological burdens. However, a hurdle is a bit higher to materialize it and it takes a lot of time to realize it. Then, in order to speed up the process, we are considering providing an opportunity which makes as many people as possible learn how important medical wigs are" said Mr. Matsuoka. Under these circumstances, Aderans were quick to form a business alliance with American International Underwriters, Chartis, Inc. (AIU Insurance Company), a general insurance company, in November 2013. "AIU Insurance Company is only company in Japan which sells an insurance product guaranteeing the reimbursement of cost for a wig purchased. The company exhibits understanding of the necessity of medical wigs. Thus, we believe that AIU's stance fits well with ours, that is, high-quality medical wigs, customer services based on the understanding of their feelings, good after-sales service and national salon network. We work together by sharing the goal of maintaining and improving the QOL in cancer patients who are distressed by their hair and making as many customers as "smile" he also said showing a new direction.

Interviewer/writer: Akiyoshi Sato

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