Normal healthy hair growth is helpful for us to understand the cause of hair loss. The way our hair grows or sheds can be evidence of problems that we need to be aware of. The many causes of hair loss and various treatments become less mysterious after gaining a basic understanding of the normal cycle of hair growth.
Each strand of hair is a complex weaving of lifeless protein produced by a teardrop-shaped hair follicle. The hair follicles are made of living cells that receive nourishment entirely from the blood supply under the skin. The hair itself is actually made up of dead cells that cannot be revived to give you that luscious look that some hair product companies lead us to believe.
There are millions hair follicles in the skin covering almost every part of the body. Some hair follicles produce fine almost colorless hairs, and others produce coarser pigmented hair shafts. Each hair follicle is a miniature organ that grows a single hair during a phase of growth. That single hair can last for several months or several years, depending on how the follicle has been genetically programmed. Scalp hair follicles tend to have a longer growth phase than eyelash hair follicles, for example.
There are three main growth phases of hair. They are the Anagen Phase, The Catagen phase and the Telogen phase. The Anagen phase is the growing phase where a follicle will grow back to full size and penetrate deeper into our skin. A bulb is formed at the base of a hair follicle and inside that bulb a new hair shaft will form. Scalp hairs will grow about one half inch per month for four to six years.The Catagen phase follows on from the Anagem phase where the hair ceases to grow and will in fact start to shrink. During this phase the lower part of the hair follicle slowly disintegrates, and the hair follicle requires less nourishment from the blood supply. Part of this normal phase of the hair growth, hairs will start to shed. This phase will continue for two to three weeks.The Telogen phase is where the hair has ceased shrinking and the hair will rest for another three months or so. Normal everyday occurrences like brushing your hair, dressing and resting ion bed will naturally shed hair. Some hair loss each day is normal. Once they finish the Telogen period the hair will start over again with the Anagem phase.
On average, young people with a full head of dark-colored hair have about 100,000 hair follicles on their scalp. Redheads often have slightly more than 100,000 scalp hair follicles, while blondes typically have fewer hair follicles.