Hair follicles are the foundation for healthy hair. Their main function is to keep hair constantly moving through the cycles of growth. Damaged or unhealthy hair follicles can cause hair to become brittle, dry, and even to fall out. Fortunately, there are some simple adjustments you can make to your hair care routine that make maintaining healthy hair follicles easy. Read on for more.
What Are Hair Follicles?
Hair follicles are small, tunnel-shaped structures in the skin. The average human has about 100,00 hair follicles on their scalp alone. Every day, hair follicles produce new cells, which push older cells out. As the cells move up, they are condensed and form into keratin-rich substance known as hair. The root of the hair is made of protein cells and nourished by blood vessels.
What Do Hair Follicles Do?
Hair follicles are responsible for hair growth. They also influence the way hair grows and what it looks like. The shape of the follicle determines how curly the hair is. Circular ones generate straight hair, while ovular ones produce curly hair. Surrounding the entire follicle is a layer of pigment cells, which give the hair its color.
The Hair Growth Cycle
Hair grows out of the hair follicles in three cycles:
- Anagen: In this phase, which lasts between three and seven years on average, hair begins growing from the root.
- Catagen: Hair growth slows during this phase, and the follicle shrinks. This last between two and four months.
- Telogen: Older hair falls out during this phase and a new hair begins to grow from the hair follicle. This phase will last between three and four months.
Common Hair Follicle Problems
There are a number of factors that can contribute to unhealthy hair follicles, such as:
- Folliculitis: An inflammation of hair follicles, folliculitis can occur anywhere hair grows. It looks like a rash or small bumps on the skin. It can be red, yellow, or white, and often contains pus. Folliculitis is often caused by staph infection.
- Alopecia: Some of the various forms of alopecia are rooted in the hair follicles. In androgenetic alopecia, or male/female pattern baldness, follicles stop producing hairs. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistake follicles for foreign cells and attack them.
Signs of Hair Follicle Damage
Common signs of hair follicle damage include:
- Hair loss
- Excessive dryness
- Hair thinning
Maintaining Healthy Hair Follicles
There are a few steps you can take to prioritize taking care of your follicles. Consider incorporating the following into your hair care routine.
Keep Your Scalp Clean
One of the most important things you can do to keep your follicles in good shape is keep your scalp clean. Just like the rest of your skin, your they can easily become clogged with dirt, debris, and oil. When they are clogged, it can lead to weak hair growth, irritation, and other conditions. Shampoo and condition your hair regularly, and use a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month to remove buildup on your scalp.
You probably think of exfoliating as something you only do on your face. However, your scalp can benefit from exfoliation too. Exfoliating keeps dead skins cells and impurities from clogging your follicles. Scalp scrubs are available at drugstores or online, or they can easily be made from mixing backing soda and water.
Change Up Your Diet
Hair follicles need essential vitamins and minerals for healthy functioning. A diet that includes lean proteins and healthy fats will support healthy hair follicles. You’ll also want to try to get as much Vitamin A, biotin, iron, and zinc as possible. Include the following in your diet after consulting with your doctor:
- Lean poultry
Limit Use of Heat Styling Tools and Chemicals
Heat can easily cause hair follicle damage. Chemicals can even destroy them and cause permanent damage. Reduce your use of heating tools and make sure to always use a heat protectant spray. It’s best to let hair dry naturally. If you are going to use chemical products, like hair dye, work with a professional to ensure as little damage occurs as possible.
Drink More Water
Water is a key part of having healthy hair. In fact, water makes up nearly 25% of the weight of a strand of hair. Dehydration can quickly halt hair growth, as enough water must reach the follicle to keep it healthy and nourished. Without enough water, hair will become dry and brittle. Make sure you are drinking enough water every day to keep your follicles happy.
If you are concerned about maintaining healthy hair follicles or are in need of hair restoration or hair replacement in Baltimore and the surrounding region, contact Eldorado. We work with all different causes of hair loss and find solutions that fit into virtually all lifestyles and budgets. Call (410) 931-3399.