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In reality, there is a great deal more going on beneath the surface of hair that meets the eyes. It is common knowledge that human hair does not only play a significant part in the outward appearance of both men and women, but it also contributes to the transmission of sensory information and plays a role in the establishment of gender identification. The average rate of hair growth on the scalp is between 0.3 and 0.4 millimetres per day, or approximately 6 inches per year. In humans, the process of growing new hair and losing old hair does not follow a seasonal or cyclical pattern as it does in other mammals. There are four stages of hair growth and shedding known as anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen. At any one time, a random number of hairs will be in one of these stages. But the response that is more helpful (and scientific) is that our hair is always going through four stages of growth, and part of that process entails losing some of it.
- Anagen, often known as the “growth period”
- Catagen, also referred to as the involution phase
- Telogen represents the phase of dormancy.
- Exogen: this stage is called the shedding phase
Let’s take a more in-depth look at these four stages, the timeframes for each one, and the reasons why it’s vitally crucial for some of your hair to fall out while the process is going on.
Anagen Phase: 2 to 6 Years
The phase of the hair cycle known as anagen is considered to be the active phase. The cells that make up the root of the hair are rapidly dividing into new copies of themselves. A new hair will form, which will then push the club hair (a hair that has stopped growing or is no longer in the anagen phase) further up the follicle, where it will finally be expelled. During this stage, the hair will grow approximately one centimetre every 28 days. Between two and six years, the hair on the scalp is in this active phase of the development cycle. Because their active phase of growth is so brief, some people have trouble growing their hair beyond a specific length. This is because their active phase of growth begins and ends so quickly. On the other hand, those who have hair that is really long have an extended period of time during which it is actively growing. Since the active development phase of the hair on the eyebrows, eyelashes, arms and legs is only around 30 to 45 days long, this explains why the length of the hair on those areas is so much less than the length of scalp hair.
The Catagen Phase: A Few Weeks
After the growth phase of your hair is complete, it will enter a phase of transition known as the catagen phase. To further clarify, what we mean by “transition” is that this is the point in time when your hair will start the process of falling out. Despite the fact that it can sound horrifying, the science behind it is actually quite fascinating. Your body sends a signal to your hair, telling it to stop growing, and in response, your hair follicles respond by contracting slightly and separating themselves from the blood supply. This causes your hair to become thinner and less dense. When you hear the word “detach,” you probably immediately think that this means your hair will start falling out in large amounts and that you will be bald for the rest of your life. The good news is that even while it separates from the scalp, it typically does not fall out until new hair begins to push it upward and cause it to get dislodged.
Telogen Phase: Three Months
The telogen phase, also known as the resting phase, typically accounts for between six and eight percent of all hairs. This phase lasts for around one hundred days for hairs located on the scalp, but it lasts far longer for hairs located on the brow, eyelash, arm, and leg. At this point, the hair follicle is fully dormant, and the club hair is reaching its final stage of development. When a hair in this phase is pulled out, the root will expose a material that is solid, hard, dry, and white in colour. Every day, the average person will lose anything from 25 to 100 telogen hairs.
Exogen Phase: A Few Days
When your hair finally reaches the exogen stage, it has already been through a lot of changes. The old hair totally separates from the scalp as the new hair comes in, and it then starts to fall out in greater numbers as the new hair takes its place. While you are most likely to notice this after you have combed your hair, you may also see bundles of hair in the drain of your shower or while you are styling your hair.
What kind of effects does hair loss have on these stages?
You probably already knew this, but the length of time that passes between hair phases varies from person to person. It is more difficult for new hair to form when hair follicles are smaller, which happens as male pattern baldness develops. In addition, the majority of experts who study hair loss think that the anagen stage gets shorter while the telogen stage maintains the same or even rises. According to the findings of recent study, the inversion of this stage has everything to do with the individual’s DNA. Although this indicates that you have no influence over whether or not you will be affected, you do have the ability to prevent it from becoming worse by receiving treatment.
In what ways does treatment for hair loss affect these stages?
Male pattern baldness is the most frequent type of hair loss in men and affects 42 percent of men at some time in their life. Female pattern baldness is the second most common form of hair loss in women. It happens when an androgen hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes the hair follicles on your head to shrink and, eventually, stop creating new hairs. This condition is known as androgenic alopecia. Therefore, even if your hair is still going through the typical cycle of catagen and telogen phases, the anagen phase isn’t producing as many new hairs as it used to. There is no longer any new hair growth to replace the hair that is being lost. However, there are ways to treat male pattern baldness. There are now two medicines that have been approved by the FDA to prevent further hair loss:
Finasteride is a tablet that can be taken orally once daily to help reduce the amount of DHT that is produced by your body. This drug is available only with a doctor’s prescription. It is feasible to prevent hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia by maintaining low levels of DHT in the scalp. Tablets of finasteride are frequently administered in conjunction with a topically applied solution known as minoxidil. Minoxidil works by relaxing the blood vessels in your scalp, which encourages the passage of blood and nutrients, which in turn helps new hair to grow. Finasteride and minoxidil are two components of a therapy regimen for hair loss and restoration that work very well when combined.
What factors have an impact on the cycles of hair growth?
Everyone is unique, and hair growth cycles will change from person to person based on factors such as age, genetics, the environment, and stress levels. The hair follicles in our scalp also change as we get older. As we become older, both the renewal ability of the hair cycle and the stem cells associated with each individual follicle become less robust. Here are some factors that affects the hair growth phases:
- Stress-induced hair loss is sometimes referred to as telogen effluvium, and it is a condition that manifests itself after an experience of either psychological or physiological acute stress. This causes hair to fall out in a diffuse manner, which is different from male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, which is defined by a receding hairline and thinning hair at the crown of the head. This condition causes hair to fall out in a more general manner.
- The environment is another factor that might have a role in either the growth or loss of hair. For instance, your scalp and skin might become irritated when exposed to dust and smoke, which can result in itching, dandruff, or an oily scalp. All of these things might cause damage to the hair and even hair loss in some people.
Other causes can interfere with the natural cycle of hair growth, which can result in temporary hair loss. In addition to these other factors includes:
- Disorders of the thyroid
- Imbalances in hormonal and nutritional levels
- Certain skin diseases
Your body’s response in the hair development cycle may not be quick enough to make anagen hair to replace those that have been lost as a result of the many different factors that can cause hair loss.