Functions of Hair
Hair plays several important roles in our lives. It helps protect our scalp from the harmful effects of UV rays, provides insulation against extreme temperatures, and even helps regulate our body temperature. But did you know that hair also has several important functions in our bodies?
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, which is also found in our nails and skin. This protein is strong and flexible, which is why hair does not break easily. In addition to protecting our scalp, hair also helps to absorb sweat and oil from our skin. This helps to keep our skin healthy and free from bacteria.
Hair also plays an important role in regulating our body temperature. When we are cold, the blood vessels in our scalp constrict, which reduces blood flow to the area. This makes our hair stand up and creates a layer of insulation that helps keep us warm.
Similarly, when we are hot, the blood vessels in our scalp dilate, which increases blood flow to the area. This causes our hair to lie flat against our head and releases heat from our bodies.
Our hair also contains special cells called melanocytes, which produce a pigment called melanin. Melanin determines hair color. Slow pigment production causes gray or white hair. Since these colors represent aging, many want to boost melanin production and restore their color.
The Hair Anatomy
The hair follicle is the structure in the skin that houses the root of the hair. It is from here that new hair growth begins. The hair shaft is the part of the hair that you can see above the surface of the skin. It is made up of three main layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla.
The cuticle is the outermost layer and consists of overlapping cells that protect the inner layers of the hair shaft. The cortex is the middle layer and contains pigment cells that give hair its color. The medulla is the innermost layer and is made up of air-filled cavities.
Hair Growth Cycle
The hair growth cycle is an important process to understand when considering hair loss. Hair grows in three stages: the anagen phase, the catagen phase, and the telogen phase. During the anagen phase, the hair follicle and hair shaft actively expand in length.
The catagen phase is a transitional phase in which the hair follicle shrinks. The telogen phase is the resting phase, during which the hair follicle rests and the hair shaft sheds.
Hair Loss Myths
There are many myths about hair loss, and it can be difficult to know what is true and what is not. Some fallacies regarding baldness and how to deal with it are listed below:
Myth 1: Hair loss is caused by poor diet.
Fact: While a poor diet can contribute to hair loss, it is not the main cause of hair loss. Hair loss is largely inherited.
Myth 2: Wearing a hat or using harsh chemicals will cause hair loss.
Fact: Wearing a hat or using harsh chemicals will not cause hair loss. However, if you have a medical condition that causes hair loss, these things may make the condition worse.
Myth 3: Only men can lose their hair.
Fact: Both men and women can lose their hair. Hair loss is more common in men, but women can also experience hair loss.
Myth 4: Stress causes hair loss.
Fact: Stress does not cause hair loss, but it can make an existing condition worse. If you are experiencing stress-related hair loss, please see a doctor for treatment options.
Hair Loss Glossary of Terms
Hair loss can be a confusing topic, with a lot of medical terms that aren’t always used in everyday conversation. To help you make sense of it all, we’ve put together this hair loss glossary of common terms you might come across:
Alopecia: This is the medical term for hair loss. There are different types of alopecia, including alopecia areata (patchy hair loss), androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness), and alopecia totalis (complete loss of hair on the scalp).
Anagen: The active growth phase of hair follicles.
Androgens: Male hormones, such as testosterone, that can contribute to hair loss.
Baldness: A common term for androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness).
DHT: Dihydrotestosterone, a byproduct of testosterone that can contribute to hair loss.
Follicle: The structure in the skin from which hairs grow. Each follicle contains a shaft (the part of the hair that’s visible above the skin), and a root (the part of the hair below the skin).
Psychological Aspects of Hair Loss
Hair Loss and Anxiety
Hair loss can be a difficult thing to deal with, both physically and emotionally. If you are going through hair loss, you should know that you are not alone. Anxiety-related hair loss is rare and only happens in severe cases. Anxiety and stress are independent but overlap. Stress links anxiety with hair loss. Anxiety is chronic stress, which can impact hair growth.
Anxiety can promote trichotillomania, a condition in which a person pulls out hair without realizing it. This can lead to hair pulling and hair loss.
Hair Loss and Depression
Many people don’t realize that depression can cause hair loss. Depression can cause dry, brittle, and easily broken hair. Low mood, discouragement, low self-esteem, and feeling fatigued might reduce the hair growth phase, causing hair loss. Some antidepressants, like Prozac, can cause hair loss.
If you’re depressed and worried about hair loss, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication.
Hair Loss and Stress
Stress causes hair loss, but it’s not permanent. Mental or physical stress can stop the hair growth cycle’s development phase. Stress can force hair follicles into the resting phase, halting hair growth for three months before shedding. Once the tension stops, your hair growth cycle and hair loss will halt. Stress can cause sadness, anxiety, and sleeping difficulties.
Contact Us to Learn More
Set up an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Stephen Ronan by calling (925)736-5757 today and learn if you are a good candidate for FUT in Danville. At Blackhawk Hair Restoration, we will help you find a lasting solution to hair loss.
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