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Each hair has a hair shaft and a hair root. The shaft is the part of the hair that sticks out of the skin, while the hair root extends into the deeper layers of the skin. The root is surrounded by the hair follicles, which also connect to a sebaceous gland.
The whole hair structure has a role in the stages of hair growth. Understanding the entire hair growth cycle can help solve common hair issues and identify what is common and what is not. Having knowledge about the basic science behind why hair falls out and what it takes for it to grow back can help us prevent factors that may disrupt this natural cycle.
Let’s go into some detail about each of the phases involved in this process of healthy hair growth.
The Four Stages of the Hair Growth Cycle
1. Anagen Phase
Also known as the Growth Phase or Active Phase, this is when hair begins. During this phase, the cells in the root divide, forming new hair fibers. About 85%–90% scalp hairs are in the Anagen Phase at any given time.
This phase of the Hair Growth Cycle lasts 3-5 years in average, growing around half an inch a month. The Anagen Phase determines its length and can vary depending on genetics. For example, it is generally longer in people of Asian descent and can last as much as 7 years.
2. Catagen Phase
The Catagen Phase is also known as the Transitional Phase. This signals the end of active hair growth and cuts individual hairs off from the blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair. During this phase the hair is still held in place in the hair follicle but stops growing.
Approximately 3% of all hairs are in this stage at any time and lasts approximately 10 days.
3. Telogen Phase
The Telogen Phase is also called the Resting Phase or Shedding Phase. The follicle remains dormant for one to three months. 10% to 15% of hairs are in this phase of growth at any given time. During this phase, the epidermal cells lining the follicle channel continue to grow and may accumulate around the base of the hair, preserving it.
Whilst the old hair is resting, new hair growth begins and starts the Anagen Phase again. About 25 to 100 Telogen hairs are shed normally each day.
4. Exogen Phase
The final stage of the Hair Growth Cycle is when individual hair strands are released from their follicles and fall out. The hair growth process can now begin again.
This understanding of how hair grows can certainly help in developing treatments for hair loss and strategies to grown new hair.
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