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What is hair made of | Hair Follicles Function | Conditions | Treatments | Tests

At some point, we have all wondered ‘what is hair made of’ and ‘how does it grow.’ Let me share with you everything that you need to know.

Hair has a simple structure, but it serves significant purposes in social interaction.

Keratin, a stiff protein, is used to make hair. Each strand is anchored into the skin by a follicle. The hair bulb is the foundation of the follicle. Living cells divide and increase in the bulb to form the shaft. Blood vessels nourish the cells in the bulb and transport hormones; that influence strand development and shape at various stages of life.

Hair growth happens in three stages, which are as follows:

Hair Growth. Anagen Is The Growth Phase; Catagen Is The Regressing Phase;  And Telogen Is The Resting Phase |

Anagen (growth phase): At any one time, the majority of strands are growing. This phase lasts several years for each strand.

Catagen (transitional phase): Strand development slows, and the follicle decreases; over a few weeks.

Telogen (resting phase): Over months, growth ceases, and old ones detach from the follicle. The growth phase of a new strand begins; pushing the old one out.

Strands grow at varying rates in various persons; the average pace is about one-half inch per month. Moreover, the strand color is produced in the follicle by pigment cells that produce melanin. However, pigment cells die as we age, and our strands gray.

The Role of Hair Follicles

Follicles are microscopic pockets of skin in our bodies; and hairs grow from them. American Academy of Dermatology states that the average human has approximately 100,000 follicles; on the scalp alone. We’ll look at what follicles are and how they work; to grow strands.

Anatomy of a Hair Follicle

Hair follicle - Wikipedia

A follicle is shaped like a tunnel; structured in the skin’s epidermis (outer layer). Strands begin to grow at the base of a follicle. The root is composed of protein cells and is supplied by blood from adjacent blood veins.

Hairs develop out of the skin and reaches the surface when more cells are formed. Sebaceous glands produce oil near follicles, which nourish the hair and skin.

Hair Growth Cycle

Hairs grow in cycles from the follicles. The cycle consists of three stages that we have already shared above; anagen, catagen, and telogen.

According to a 2015 article, a recent study suggests that follicles aren’t just “resting” throughout the telogen period. During this phase, there is a lot of cellular activity to renew and develop more strands. In other words, the telogen phase is critical for the development of healthy locks.

Different Follicle Different Stages Same Time

At the same time, different follicles go through various stages of the cycle. Some strands are in a growing phase, while others may be resting. Some of your hairs may be growing, and others may be falling out.

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the average person loses roughly 100 strands; per day. At any given time, approximately 90% of your follicles are in the anagen phase.

Hair Follicle life cycle

Your strands grow around half an inch every month; on average. Your age, hair type, and overall health can all influence your growth rate.

Follicle Determine How Your Hair Look

Follicles not only control how much your strands grow but also determine how it looks. The shape of your follicle determines the curliness of your strands. Circular follicles generate straight strands, while oval ones generate curlier ones.

Follicle Contribute To Your Hair Color

Follicles also contribute to the color of your strands. Your hair, like your skin, obtains its hue from the presence of melanin. Melanin is classified into two types: eumelanin and pheomelanin.

Your genes decide whether you have eumelanin or pheomelanin, as well as the amount of each pigment. It is black when there is an abundance of eumelanin, brown when there is a moderate quantity of eumelanin; and blonde when there is very little eumelanin. Pheomelanin, on the other hand, is responsible for the color of hair. This melanin is housed in follicle cells, which determine color. As you get older, your follicles may lose their ability to create melanin, resulting in gray or white strand growth.

Damaged Follicle Do Not Generate Strands

Strands can regrow after it is taken out of the follicle. A follicle that has been injured may stop generating strands. Alopecia, for example, can cause follicles to stop generating them entirely.

Follicle & Strand Issues

Hair follicle problems

A variety of hair ailments are caused by problems with the follicles. If you suspect you have a condition or have unexplained symptoms such as hair loss, you should see a dermatologist.

Alopecia Androgenetic 

Androgenetic alopecia, often known as male pattern baldness in males, is a disorder that affects the growth cycle of follicles on the scalp. The cycle slows and weakens, eventually coming to a halt. As a result, the follicles stop creating new hairs.

National Library of Medicine states that androgenetic alopecia affects 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States.

Alopecia Areata 

Follicle Condition: Alopecia Areata -
Follicle Condition: Alopecia Areata  | What is hair made of –

An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system misidentifies and assaults follicles as foreign cells. It frequently causes clumps of hair to fall out. It can cause alopecia Universalis or total hair loss all over the body.

Although there is no known cure for alopecia areata, steroidal injections or topical therapies can help to reduce hair loss.


Follicle Condition:  Folliculitis  |  What is hair made of -
Follicle Condition: Folliculitis  |

Folliculitis is an infection that affects the follicles. It can happen anywhere your hair grows, including on your:

  • scalp
  • legs
  • armpits
  • face
  • arms

Folliculitis frequently appears as a rash of tiny bumps on your skin. In this case, the pimples might be red, white, or yellow and contain pus. Moreover, folliculitis is often itchy and painful.

For the most part, a staph infection is the cause of folliculitis. Folliculitis can go away on its own, but a doctor can diagnose you and prescribe medicine to help you manage it. Moreover, it can include topical treatments or oral drugs to treat the infection’s cause and alleviate symptoms.

Telogen Effluvium 

Follicle Condition: Telogen Effluvium |  What is hair made of -
Follicle Condition: Telogen Effluvium |

Telogen effluvium is a common but transient kind of hair loss. A stressful incident causes follicles to enter the telogen phase too soon. As a result, the strand thins and falls out.

Strands usually fall out in patches on the scalp, but in difficult situations, they can fall out in other areas of the body, such as the legs, brows, and pubic region.

The following factors could be causing the stress:

  • a physically traumatic occurrence
  • childbirth
  • a new pharmaceutical
  • surgery
  • illness
  • a tense life transition

The event’s shock causes a shift in the strand growth cycle.

Telogen effluvium is usually transient and does not necessitate therapy. However, if you suspect you have telogen effluvium, you should consult a dermatologist because they will need to rule out other causes.

Other conditions include: – 

Female Pattern Baldness: Women’s hair loss typically consists of consistent thinning with a retained hairline over the scalp. Although the crown may be affected, hair loss rarely progresses to baldness as it does in men. View an illustration of female pattern baldness.

Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis): An ongoing mild inflammation of the scalp results in scaly skin that is itchy and flaky. The ears and face can also be affected by seborrheic dermatitis.

Tinea Capitis (ringworm): A fungal infection that causes round patches of hair loss on the head. Tinea capitis is not caused by worms, even though the patches may form in a ring shape.

Trichotillomania: It is a mental disease characterized by an insatiable desire to pull one’s hair out. Hair pulling causes visible hair loss in places; the cause is uncertain.

Head Lice: Tiny insects that feed on blood and dwell on the scalp. Children in preschool and elementary school and people who live with children are the most vulnerable to contracting head lice, which can only be spread through intimate contact.

Postpartum Alopecia: Hair loss after childbirth is a kind of telogen effluvium that cures typically on its own.

Trichomycosis Nodularis (Piedra): A fungal infection of the shaft. Fungus nodules bind to strand fibers, causing hair loss in some cases.

Hirsutism: It is a condition in which females get male-pattern hair (such as facial hair). A medical problem that causes an overabundance of testosterone is typically to blame.

Hair Examinations

Drug Testing: Many street drugs (or their breakdown products in the body) are absorbed through the strand. A sample can be examined for recent drug usage.

DNA testing: Follicles carry DNA, and strands can be examined to determine paternity or used as evidence in a criminal inquiry.

Hair Analysis: It examines one’s hair for harmful exposures such as lead or mercury poisoning. However, the inconsistency and difficulty in interpreting the outcomes of these tests limit them.

Treatments for Hair

Minoxidil (Rogaine): A medication applied to the scalp that, when administered daily, can help most people prevent hair loss.

Finasteride (Propecia): A pill-taking drug for men that regrows some strands and stops hair loss in the majority of men who use it.

Hair Transplantation: It is a surgical procedure that involves removing skin and hair from the back of the scalp and transplanting groups of follicles to areas of a scant inch.

Hair Electrolysis: It involves inserting a skinny needle into a follicle and applying an electrical current. The voltage damages the follicle and so prevents hair growth.

Laser Hair Removal: A laser is directed towards the cells in the hair follicle, and the high energy of the laser destroys the cells, inhibiting strand growth.

Regrowth of Hair

Besides, if you have alopecia or baldness, you may be wondering if it is feasible to stimulate a follicle to regrow strands. However, It is not possible to enable a follicle that has been damaged. Moreover, we don’t know how to stimulate it again.

Some new stem cell research, on the other hand, offers optimism. In this case, a paper published in 2017 discovered a new approach for reactivating dead or damaged follicles. This medicine, however, has not yet been tried on humans and has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In Conclusion

Furthermore, your follicles are in charge of hair growth, which occurs in three distinct phases. These follicles also define the sort of hair you have.

When follicles are injured, they can cease creating strands, and your strand growth cycle can slow down. In conclusion, it is better to see a dermatologist for your concern about your hair growth.

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