Journey of a Human Hair!

Yes, our hair also goes through a life cycle! Is there any natural reason behind shedding of your hair or this is just because of those ugly knots you are getting daily? Is there any effect of your diet and lifestyle on your hair growth, greying of hair and its shedding? Does season have anything to do with this? What kind of basic solutions you can adapt to take care of your hair?

As we know, since our birth hair starts growing all over the body except some of the specific regions like mucous membrane, lips, palms, soles, etc.

If, you see hair structure at the cellular level. Then, you can understand that it has two different structures. First is the hair shaft (which you normal see or visualize) and second is the follicle (which you can’t visualize normally but, its beneath your scalp skin). Likewise, Tree has branches and stem (which you can normally visualize) as well as root (which lies under the ground but, you can’t visualize it without pulling it out).

Your hair is naturally made up of living as well as non-living structures which lies above and below the scalp’s epidermis. Hair shaft lies above the epidermal layer which is non-living and is made up of keratin containing epithelial cell layer. This is the reason behind the shiny hair you get after using keratin containing products as well as DIY hair packs made up of proteins. The part of hair which is below the epidermis, is a living hair follicle with enlarged base as well as hair bulb.

 There are hair follicles at the base of the hair which gets nourished by the blood circulating in the capillaries. These provide essential nutrients for your hair to grow properly.

Our hair undergoes through 4 phases in its hair growth cycle, these are:

  • Anagen phase
  • Catagen phase
  • Telogen phase
  • Exogen phase

Anagen phase: It is considered as the Growth phase of your hair growth cycle. This is the phase when your hair turns longer after a certain period of time. At this time, hair is generally straight but, the follicles are in an angled position as they take the shape of onion and are continuously working to produce the hair fiber. The time duration of this phase determines the length of your hair. Thus, there should be continuation of proliferation during this phase. Longer the duration of Anagen phase /Growth phase, more will be the growth of your hair. Thus, on an average this Anagen phase can be up to 3-5 years in duration. The people of Asian countries have naturally longer Anagen phase duration. It’s good to know that maximum of the hair on your head i.e., about 80-90% always go through this phase. So, if you notice someone having very long hair then, you can understand that they have longer Anagen phase duration naturally. Although, this phase doesn’t last longer for your arm hair and eyelashes hair i.e., upto 1-6 months. After this the hair follicles starts or enters into the Catagen phase. Although, the reason behind such kind of transitions i.e., hair follicles entering from one phase to another phase is not well known.

Catagen phase: It is also known as Transition phase. This phase starts when Anagen phase comes to an end. This is the phase when the blood supply to hair follicles gets reduced and thus, the growth of hair strands slows down gradually and later it gets stopped completely. During this phase, the hair follicle starts to get detached from the scalp due to the lack of blood supply and thus, hair fall starts a bit only when hair gets external pressure like brushing your hair vigorously. As, during this time period it remains in the scalp and neither grows nor fallout. This phase can last up to a few weeks (two weeks) in which hair follicle size gets regressed and can turn upto 1/6th of its normal diameter i.e., hair thinning starts naturally. During this phase, there is formation of club hair which can give an appearance of hair thinning whenever many of the hair form club hair. During this phase, the hair follicle has no firm grip on the hair strand as it is not attached now. Thus, it can start shedding the hair anytime if it enters another phase rapidly.

Telogen phase: This is also known as Resting phase of the hair growth cycle. During this phase hair follicle enters into the dormant conditions. Thus, it is seen that hair shaft does not grows in this phase. Likewise, you might have seen that seeds also enter into dormant stage and they start seedling only when, there dormant stage ends. This phenomenon naturally helps seeds to overcome the period of time when it is unfavourable for them. So, the word “dormancy” explains about the period of time when the growth and development of something stops temporarily. At this time, naturally the metabolic activity or other activities gets reduced and starts to conserve the energy for the new growth. Approximately 10-15% of all the body hair go through this resting phase at a given time period and can remain in this period for a particular time, which definitely depends on the location where the hair is growing. It generally takes one year for the scalp hair regrowth. When, the regrowth occurs then, the resting hair gets pushed by it for the further growth of new hair. This Telogen phase can lasts up to hundred days for the scalp hair but, can be much longer for the other areas like eyebrow, eyelashes, etc. If you pull out your hair during this phase, then you will notice that some white color solid and hard material is at the root. This thing you can understand by the example of growing leaves on the trees of Evergreen forests. In those forests, new leaves replace the older leaves without shedding them all together. Thus, trees look evergreen always but still 10% leaves are going through the process of ageing.

 If you are using something or your hair got something which disrupts the normal hair growth cycle. Then, this may cause more hair to start the Telogen phase. This causes a lot of hair to enter the Exogen phase later. This means as much as hair enters the Telogen phase then, that much of hair will also enter the Exogen phase. Thus, excessive amount of hair shedding occurs which is known as Telogen effluvium. Although, this hair loss occurs all over the head but, still most of the people notice more hair loss in the front region of scalp. Sometimes, even the hair which got loosened can stay in place and may remain until the end or until new hair grows from there.

Exogen phase: It is the fourth phase of the hair growth cycle. This phase occurs when hair is actively shedding from the scalp as the hair strands are not firmly anchored in the scalp. Some authors don’t even mention it as a phase of hair growth cycle as it only involves hair shedding. In a healthy person, the hair shedding can be between fifty to hundred in a day. Any person can suffer from hair loss if, these phases change their normal cycle and start hair shedding in between. Moreover, if the Anagen phase or Growth phase cycle is short or at that time period hair growth occurred very slow or it got stopped very early. Then, also the person can suffer from hair loss conditions. This means they will have more hair loss during their Exogen phase. This same phenomenon can happen if hair growth cycle prematurely enters Catagen or Telogen phase. This can accelerate your hair loss very rapidly and may lead to excessive hair loss conditions.

Is there any effect of your diet and lifestyle on your hair growth, greying of hair and its shedding?

Yes! Of course your diet and lifestyle has effect on your hair growth.

Many of the factors can reduce the Anagen phase or shorten the Growth phase. These are:

  • Stress issues
  • Calorie counted diet – low or extreme both the conditions can suffer.
  • Medicines
  • Hormonal imbalances of your body.
  • Too tight pony tails
  • Traumas
  • Heat styling all the time

All the food in your diet which promotes hair growth is a must. Here, are some mentioned below:

  • Carrots
  • Fishes like Salmon
  • Avocados
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Food containing Biotin, Zinc, etc.

You can also do specific yoga asanas which can help in improvement of blood circulation in your head which can directly improve your blood supply to hair follicles:

  • Shirshasana
  • Sarvangasana
  • Adho mukha Shvanasana
  • Balasana
  • Vajrasana

     This will improve your digestive ability and thus, will help in increasing nourishment to your whole body.

Does season have anything to do with this?

Yes, this is possible and you can normally get this during September – October month. This could be due to the aagravation of Pitta doshas in this month. So, to avoid such conditions you should not take much of the spicy, sour, salty food 3-4 months back as well during these months.

What kind of basic solutions you can adapt to take care of your hair?

Don’t shampoo without oiling your hair. Do head massage and try to keep it overnight. 

Practice Shirshasana daily or if it is not possible then, you can try Inversion method of head massaging.

Try to incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables in your diet rather taking the packaged foods.

To improve your hair growth, you should take a diet which gets easily digested and doesn’t affects the blood flow.

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