The hair was, is and will always be a quintessential component of one's personality. And even though, evolution wise, we don't really need hair to 'protect' us anymore, it still tops the list for the most sought after natural accessory of the body.
So, for all of you intrigued by this vestigial, yet very important part of the skin, here are 10 facts that could give you some insight on how your hair was formed and how it dies only to regrow again.
1. When do the hair follicles develop?
When you are 9 weeks old... in the womb!
2. Which hair develop the first?
The first hair follicles are the ones on the eyebrows, upper lip and chin. By 22 weeks of life, the entire body is covered by 5 million follicles at regular intervals
3. Are there places on the body where the hair never develops?
Yes, on the palms and soles, Glans penis and Labia Minora.
4. On birth how many hair follicles are seen on the adult scalp?
Out of the 5 million that develop, 100,000 hair follicles lie in the scalp. Yes! That many!
5. Does the hair have a life cycle?
Yes, simply put, what grows must die. Each hair follicle undergoes a repetitive sequence of growth and rest.
The growth phase is the Anagen phase and this is followed by the short transition phase: Catagen phase and then follows the resting phase called Telogen phase after which the hair is thrown out and the person experiences the all dreaded ‘Hair Fall’!
Too complicated?... Read on to know why knowing this is important.
6. How long does each phase last?
Anagen/ Growth phase: Lasts for anywhere between 3 to 7 years and under normal conditions around 85 to 90% of hairs are in this phase! So the more the hair you have in this phase the less ‘hair fall’ you experience. Also, the length of your anagen phase( the number of years your hair will remain in this phase) is genetically controlled. As they say, if your ancestors had problem free healthy hair you are bound to have them too. But there are always exceptions to this rule and unfortunately these exceptions are rising with the current change of lifestyle (late nights, bad eating and no exercise) such healthy hair is rarely seen despite the genetic inheritance!
Catagen/ Transient phase: Lasts for 2 weeks and around 1 % of hair are in this phase. It indicates the end of the growth phase. Aaah! But the hair doesn’t fall or shed from the scalp yet.
Telogen/ resting phase: Here the ‘dead’ hairs stay till the next ‘growing’ hairs throw them out. It is then that you experience the dreaded hair fall. But it isn't really dreadful as you think it is! It is pretty natural! This phase lasts for around 1 to 3 months and around 10 to 15% of the hair follicles are in the state at any given point of time! And for each hair that is lost... there is another healthy hair growing underneath it!
7. How many hairs are lost every day?
You now know the exact numbers of hairs in your scalp right? Let’s do the math.
If you had 100,000 follicles in the scalp, each with cycle of say 1000 days (3 years), then approximately normally 100 hairs would be lost each day!!!
Didn’t quite get it? It’s okay! :) All you need to know is that up to a 100 hairs can be lost everyday... because for all the hair you lose, new hair are growing back! But yes, it is considered that if the count goes up to more than 100 per day, it is pathological and you need to stop making a guinea pig of your hairs (stop trying shampoos based on TV commercials!) and go to your dermatologist.
8. Do all the hair on the scalp grow at the same time?
No, since not all of them grow together, they do not fall together either. And therefore you have different amounts of hair that fall every day. There are hair shedding seasons where the hair lost, varies according to the season of the year! Sounds silly? But its true. Everyone sheds hair in a particular season... so try to find out your season. Psst... I shed in the winters! ;-)
9. Do shampoos help control hair fall?
Not always! It depends on why you have the hair fall in the first place! And to know why you have hair fall, you need to go visit an allopathic dermatologist! There are many more ways (lotions or oils or shampoos) to approach and treat hair fall. So what they show in TV commercials, isn’t really true. Imagine this, if it were true, if shampoos did control hair fall in 15 days... why would people still be suffering from hair fall at all? The whole world would never get bald right? Aah... but that is so not true, is it?!
10. How long does it take for treatment to show effect?
Remember the hair cycle (points 5 and 6)? So, when a dermatologist aims for hair growth, what he or she is trying to do is convert the Telogen phase(Resting phase) into the Anagen phase (Growth phase). Remember how long the Telogen phase was?...Yes, 3 months! Which means that for the Telogen hair to get thrown out and for the Anagen hair to grow it will take approximately 3 months! And that means for any treatment to show effect, it would take around 3 months from the start of treatment!
So, all of you concerned about your hair fall... count your hair fall! Assess if it's really a genuine problem. Avoid being your own guinea pig if you do have a genuine problem and visit a dermatologist for a better solution!
Hair care is a process... there ain't any quick fixes here!
-Dr Pradnya Shastri