Hair and hair growth

Everything you should know

Strength and development of hair growth are mainly ethnic (pedigree) and inherited. Quality, quantity, shape and colour of the hair are closelyrelated to the type and age of the person. The reasons why head andbody hair can change in the course of life have not yet been fully researched. Human hair is a complex structure consisting mainly of various hornsubstances (keratin). These horn substances resemble those of thefingernails. They are made up of hardly soluble, sulphur-containing, mostly fibrous basic materials. (Note: From this it can be deduced how aggressive depilatory creams must be in order to reach their goal). Hairconsists of about 4% sulphur, 6% hydrogen, 17% nitrogen, 23% oxygenand almost 50% carbon. The hair itself is composed of three layers: a dandruff layer, a fibre layer and the medullary canal. The hair growsdiagonally out of the hair follicle, which also determines the hair crosssection. The cross-section is also defined in the hereditary programmeand is therefore very different depending on the origin.

Growth phases

Hair does not grow steadily but cyclically in three specific phases. Normally, 85% of hairs are in the growth phase (anagen) and 15% in the transitional phase (catagen) and resting phase (telogen).

The hair is “alive” at the root. The root is the part of the hair that is embedded below the surface of the skin. At the lower end of the root, there is an enlargement, the hair bulb. The hair papilla is indented into the bottom of the hair bulb. The hair is supplied with nutrients here and also grows from here. New cells continue to grow in the hair germ or hair papilla, i.e. horny cells are produced continuously. This new, still soft hair substance is constantly pushed upward as if through a funnel, forming a keratinised structure. A hair grows between 0.3 and 0.5 mm per day. If a hair falls or is pulled out, it regrows. If the hair germ is destroyed or dies, it does not produce any more hair. A scar forms over the area.

During the resting phase, the hair slowly makes its way towards the surface of the skin and falls out. Hair removal is easiest during this phase as the root is already close to the surface. A new hair then forms in the same place. When a hair that is still in the growth phase is pulled out, we experience a slight stinging sensation. The hair bulb is pulled out, whereas the base layer of the hair follicle generally remains in the skin. As the hair is connected to a fine blood vessel, there may be a tiny drop of blood, but this is often not visible to the human eye. Hairs in the growth phase are lodged most firmly in the skin and are more difficult to remove than in the other two stages.

When a hair has been removed during the transition phase, a new hair can form immediately, or removal may also be followed by a resting phase.

It’s possible that three hairs grow out of the same follicle and that each of these is in a different growth phase.

Hair originally had a protective function, shielding particularly against cold and sunlight. In our modern civilisation, it has lost this function. More hair used to mean better protection. This is why light-skinned, red-haired people have the most and strongest hair. Their skin produces less melanin than people with blonde or dark hair and compensates for this by stronger hair growth. It is easiest to remove hair from people with black hair (Mediterranean types). However, this hair is most visible to the eye. In addition, hair growth is inhibited much more slowly in these types of people than in others.

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