When people talk about human hair, attention is usually given to the features, including color, density, length, and texture. People barely talk about the hair follicle that’s an active participant in the hair formation we see. What’s more, people only talk about hair care, and there’s little or nothing to be said about hair follicle care which is as important as hair care.
If you want to learn more about the hair follicles, especially the components that give them the function we enjoy in our hair, this is the place to be. In this article, we’ll describe what a hair follicle is, and we’ll explain its features, and show you the different stages of our hair growth cycle.
A Description of Hair Follicles
For mental imagery, the hair follicle is like a tunnel-shaped tube within the epidermis and dermis layer of the skin, out of which hair grows. These follicles contain connective tissues and growth cells around the roots of our hair that enhance their activities. The follicles, the dermis, and the epidermis sit comfortably on fatty tissues that supply necessary insulation and nutrients to the skin and its components.
Alternatively, you can think of hair follicles as a vase that holds the root of a flower and consider hairs as stems of this flower. You can also view it as a sac out of which hair sprouts.
Like other organs within the human body, the hair follicles have a dynamic structure of hair growth regulated by different growth cycles. It also has various components, all of which make up our follicular structure that differs from one individual. Although the growth cycle and the structure in question are straightforward, the functions aren’t. The implication is that the slightest alteration to this structure and the growth cycle can lead to several hair damage conditions.
The growth process of every hair follicle on the hair lasts for about 5years. Within this timeframe, about 90% of the hair follicles grow hair at one point or the other. The estimation gives about 6inches of hair growth year in and out.
Components of the Hair Follicles
The hair follicles constitute several components which include all of the following:
The Dermal Papilla
Dermal papilla consists of mesenchymal cells located right below the hair follicles. Its primary role in the follicles is to regulate hair growth. It is also responsible for the nourishment of growing hair.
The germinal matrix is an area where cells surrounding the papilla are reproduced. It also participates in hair growth because it produces new hairs when hair falls out or dies. It also serves as a supply channel for melanin, giving the hair its dark shade and pigmentation.
Like the papilla, the bulb is also located at the base of the follicles. As strange as it might seem, the hair we see is dead. The bulb houses our hairs that are alive, and its continuity is substantiated by the blood supply. It also has the most active stem cells in the body, which constantly multiply in one to three days.
The bulge is alternatively called the isthmus, located between the sebaceous gland (which gives hair natural oil) and the bulb. It is responsible for regenerating new hair follicles when some lose their functionality. Similarly, it provides the necessary follicle strength for erection when we feel goosebumps.
The point to note with each of these follicular components mentioned above is that they combine their functions to assist the hair follicle in its activities, which leads to hair growth.
What are the Cycles Involved in Hair Growth?
While the cycle of hair growth is the same for everyone, the rate of hair growth differs from one person to another. Thus, the cycle is divided into three distinct phases, which include the anagen, the catagen, and the telogen. The following is a description of each of these phases:
The Anagen Phase
The anagen phase of hair growth is regarded as the most active stage of the whole process. Here, there’s a hyperactive cellular division and multiplication, which produces new hair sent to the follicles. This growth stage has about a one-centimeter growth rate every twenty-eight days.
The activity of the anagen determines the length of the hair. If an individual’s hair cannot grow beyond a certain length, it means the anagen phase of their hair is short. However, for every individual, this phase lasts for about six years. The hairs that grow during this stage also differ in color, size, and density, depending on the individual’s age.
The Catagen Phase
The Catagen stage is the transitional stage of hair growth which has around 3% of the hair density. You’ll recall we mentioned that the hairs we see are dead. They are the hairs in the club hair which are pushed to the hair follicles and then sent out. The phase doesn’t go beyond two or three weeks when the hair growth regresses. When this happens, the root of the hair shrinks and closes, while awaiting the next growth cycle.
The Telogen Phase
The telogen Phase is popularly known as the resting stage of the cycle. While it accounts for about 8% of the hair, the phase lasts for 100 days for hair scalp and lasts longer for hairs on the arm, eyebrows, leg, and eyelash. When we pull out a hair during this phase, we’ll notice a whitish pigment at the base. It shows that the club hair has completed its formation.
Around 25 to 100 hairs fall out during this stage, and the reason people say stress causes hair shedding is because, with stress, more hairs are pushed to the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle.
The activities that precede hair growth are fascinating growth processes in the human body. Each stage naturally takes its course immediately after the end of another phase. That’s why any internal or external action can affect these processes positively or negatively. Hence you should be careful about what you do or apply to your hair.