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The Hair Growth Cycle

The average human scalp contains between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs. These grow from the follicle or root, underneath the skin. The hair is fed by blood vessels at the base of the follicle, giving it the nourishment it needs to grow. Each hair goes through a growth cycle independent of the other hairs on the scalp.

In people without hair loss, approximately 90% of the hairs on the head are in Anagen, the growth phase, while the other 10% are in Telogen, the resting phase.

The Anagen phase lasts between 2-6 years, after which the follicle goes through a brief transition phase called Catagen, and enters Telogen, which lasts from 2-4 months. After the Telogen phase, the hair falls out naturally and is replaced, returning the hair to the Anagen phase. Some hair loss is a normal part of the hair growth cycle - on average, 50 - 100 hairs are lost from the scalp daily, but with Androgenetic alopecia as many as 200 hairs can be lost every day.

The reason many hair re-growth products like Minoxidil cause temporary increased hair loss, known as, “Shedding,” is because in order to return 90% of hair to the Anagen phase, they must go through the Telogen phase quickly and then start in Anagen, this time with healthier, longer lasting hair growth.

DHT and Androgenetic Alopecia

Alopecia Androgenetic Alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in men, but is also surprisingly common in women,
affecting up to 40% of women by the age of 65. Often known as Male or Female Pattern Baldness, it results when:

1. Hair loss occurs at an abnormally high rate;

2. Hair replacement occurs at an abnormally slow rate;

3. Normal hairs are replaced by smaller, thinner hairs, called “miniaturisation”

Androgenetic Alopecia affects nearly 30% of men before they reach the age of 30, and 50% of males over the age of 50.
More surprisingly, it also affects 40% of women over the age of 50. The causes of Androgenetic Alopecia are to this day still not completely understood although, as its name suggests, it is widely thought to involve both hormonal (androgen) and genetic causes. Of the many hormones that regulate hair on the scalp, Androgens have the largest effect.

Many women find that the hair on their head is thinning during menopause or pregnancy- this is due to changes in the levels of the chemical Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the scalp.

In men, DHT is very important for reaching maturity; it is DHT that causes body and facial hair to begin growing. Later in life however, these same Androgens (primarily DHT) are responsible for the reduction in sise of the follicles in the scalp.

The longer the hair follicle is kept in the presence of DHT, the more miniaturised the follicle becomes and the hair itself becomes shorter and thinner. DHT also increases the rate of hair loss by signaling to the hair to reach Telogen phase sooner, so as well as the hair miniaturisation more hair is lost; these factors combined give noticeable thinning hair.

As the follicles are forced to reach Telogen sooner, the Anagen (growth phase) becomes shorter, meaning more hairs are lost. If treatment is not administered, this process continues, the follicles progressively become shorter and less visible, and some will eventually die.

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