Hair follicles are small, pocket-like holes in our skin. As the name suggests, they grow hair. The average human has about 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp alone, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. We’ll explore what hair follicles are and how they grow hair.
A hair follicle is a tunnel-shaped structure in the epidermis (outer layer) of the skin. Hair starts growing at the bottom of a hair follicle. The root of the hair is made up of protein cells and is nourished by blood from nearby blood vessels.
As more cells are created, the hair grows out of the skin and reaches the surface. Sebaceous glands near the hair follicles produce oil, which nourishes the hair and skin.
Hair grows out of the follicles in cycles. There are three different phases of this cycle:
- Anagen (growth) phase. The hair begins to grow from the root. This phase usually lasts between three and seven years.
- Catagen (transitional) phase. The growth slows down and the follicle shrinks in this phase. This lasts between two and four months.
- Telogen (resting) phase. The old hair falls out and new hair begins to grow from the same hair follicle. This lasts between three and four months.
According to a 2015 articleTrusted Source, recent research has suggested that hair follicles aren’t just “resting”’ during the telogen phase. A lot of cellular activity happens during this phase so that the tissues can regenerate and grow more hair. In other words, the telogen phase is crucial to the formation of healthy hair.
Different follicles go through different phases of the cycle at the same time. Some follicles are in the growth phase while others might be in the resting phase. Some of your hairs might be growing, while others are falling out.
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the average person loses approximately 100 strands of hair a day. About 90 percentTrusted Source of your hair follicles are in the anagen phase at any given time.
On average, your hair grows about half an inch each month. Your hair growth rate can be affected by your age, hair type, and your overall health.
Hair follicles aren’t just responsible for how much your hair grows, they also influence what your hair looks like. The shape of your follicle determines how curly your hair is. Circular follicles produce straight hair while oval follicles produce curlier hair.
Hair follicles also play a part in determining the color of your hair. As with skin, your hair gets its pigment from the presence of melanin. There are two types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Your genes determine whether you have eumelanin or pheomelanin, as well as how much of each pigment you have. An abundance of eumelanin makes hair black, a moderate amount of eumelanin makes hair brown, and very little eumelanin makes hair blonde. Pheomelanin, on the other hand, makes hair red.
This melanin is stored in hair follicle cells, which then determine the color of the hair. Your follicles can lose their ability to produce melanin as you age, which results in the growth of gray or white hair.
If hair is pulled out of the hair follicle, it can regrow. It’s possible that a damaged follicle will stop producing hair. Certain conditions, such as alopecia, can cause follicles to stop producing hair altogether.
A number of hair conditions are caused by issues with hair follicles. If you think you have a hair condition, or if you have unexplained symptoms like hair loss, give Ali King Hair Regaining a try.
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