How Hair Grows: Understanding The Three Stages Of Hair Growth
Each year millions of Americans deal with some form of hair loss or hair thinning. In order to determine which type of hair loss treatment is best suited for an individual’s situation, it is important to understand how hair grows.
Hair grows from a hair follicle (sometimes called the root) located under the skin. Blood vessels situated at the bottom of each follicle provide a nourishing blood flow that enables the hair to grow. From the time your hair begins to grow until the time it falls out, each individual hair passes through a growth cycle of three distinct stages: Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen.
The anagen phase is commonly referred to as the growing phase as the hair grows about half an inch in length every 28 days during this period. While the amount of time the follicle remains in the anagen phase differs from person to person (it is determined genetically), this phase typically lasts from two to six years. The length of time the hair is in the anagen stage also determines how long an individual’s uncut hair can grow, with most falling within a range of 18 to 30 inches.
The catagen phase is a short transitional phase that lasts about two weeks. During this phase the follicle begins to shrink and the individual hair becomes restricted from nourishment (blood supply) provided by the underlying vessel.
The telogen phase is a resting phase which lasts around 3 months. During this phase the hair is released from the follicle and falls out and a new hair begins to grow in its place. Most healthy scalps will shed 50 to 150 individual stands of hair daily.
How the hair regrowth cycle affects hair thinning and hair loss
Each hair follicle is independent and goes through this growth cycle at different times. Hair loss or balding occurs when the natural growth cycle becomes disrupted; particularly when either the anagen phase shortens or the telogen phase increases (or a combination of both).
Disruption of the growth cycle can stem from many different factors including metabolic imbalances, illness, improper nutrition, stress, and genetics. Fortunately there are many effective hair restoration treatments and medications that can counteract disruptions to the hair growth cycle.
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