Hair grows everywhere on the body, some wanted, some unwanted. Head hair is both the most visible and longest-growing and forms part of people’s external appearance. Hair is made of a protein called keratin and hair growth rates slow with age for everyone. Since many people have different problems with their hair a basic understanding the human hair growth cycle can be helpful. These are the three phases of the hair growth cycle.
The anagen phase is the growth phase. During this phase, a hair bulb forms right at the bottom of the follicle. These bulbs mature into the individual strands of hair that grow through the scalp. In the anagen phase, the hair strand will grow at a rate of approximately 1cm each month. The length of time for which the hair remains in this phase depends on genetics.
On average, 85%-90% of scalp hairs are in this phase for the majority of people at one time.
This is a transitional phase triggered by unknown physiological signals stopping hair growth. The catagen phase follows the anagen phase and lasts for about 2 weeks. In the catagen phase, there are changes in the follicle. The hair bulb in the follicle that was attached to the blood supply detaches and moves up the follicle. The follicle shrinks to one-sixth of its usual length and only grasps the hair shaft loosely. This means that some hairs fall out.
The telogen phase is the resting phase and 10%-15% of hair follicles are usually in this phase. During this time the follicle is dormant for between 1 to 4 months.
Although the follicle is dormant, skin cells in the follicle continue to grow as usual. The build-up of these cells can anchor hair in place in the follicle for a temporary period. Eventually, the follicle will begin to grow again. This means the anchor point for the hair shaft is no longer fixed in place and the hair strand sheds. The anagen phase follows the telogen phase with a new hair bulb forming in the follicle.
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