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Hair and Scalp


hair and scalp

Although other animals may have features that greatly resemble hair -- such as whiskers, cilia, or feathers -- actual hair is often considered one of the defining characteristic across all species of mammals.

Although it may appear that some species of mammals have very little visible hair, upon close examination you will always reveal some obscure hair growth on some part of the mammal's body. Humans, as with several species of mammals, have a particularly intimate relationship with their hair.

Not only has hair typically been treated as a status symbol within cultural and historical settings, but hair is also a prominent subject of religious dogmatism as to the length and shape of both the head, scalp and facial hair.

Unbeknownst to many individuals is the fact that the actual hairs you see on your head, face, and body are in fact already dead -- the actual living hairs reside beneath your skin.

Full and shiny hair is often attributed to youth, while thinning, dull hair is more likely to be associated with illness or old age. But there are a variety of factors that contribute to the lackluster appearance of hair, especially:

  • Melanin Levels: While little is known about the genetic codes passed on to children in regards to hair, parents do pass on certain genes that determine how much eumelanin is present in offsprings' hair. Eumelanin is a type of melanin that determines hair color -- lots of eumelanin results in dark hair while a little will result in blonde hair.

  • Diet: Hair is made up of ninety-eight percent proteins. As such, a protein-rich diet high in omega-3 and -6 fats, and other essential fatty acids contributes to a healthy scalp. Essential fatty acids are not produced by the body, and so must come from food sources.

  • Genetics: One hereditary condition that can be passed on to offspring is androgenic alopecia, a condition that causes increased levels of the hormone 5(alpha)-reductase. This nasty hormone morphs testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. The result - follicles sprout finer, shorter hairs before eventually failing to sprout any at all, the onset of male pattern baldness.

Myths About Hair Loss


hair and scalp

Like weight loss, hair is also subject to a variety of myths -- largely a result of the thriving "quick-cure for baldness" industry. The following myths about hair loss are simply not true:

Wearing hats will make you go bald


One of the most popular myths. If you're a male and start to notice thinning on your scalp, the natural tendency is to start wearing hats everywhere.

This fuels the myth that wearing hats too often causes baldness. This is a logical fallacy on the order of "Jake drank water while he had a cold and the cold developed into the flu - therefore water causes the flu."

As long as you give your head at least seven hours a day to breathe, wearing a hat does not increase the speed of or cause hair loss.

Too much Sun kills hair


Remember that your visible hair is actually already dead -- so no amount of Sun can really have much impact on the vitality of the hair on your scalp. In fact, your hair actually serves to protect your scalp from UV rays. Those who spend too much time in the Sun may experience some thinning in leg and arm hair, however.

Traumatic experiences cause hair loss


Cartoons may be the culprit in this popular myth. Cartoon animals that shouldn't have a full head of hair to begin with (ducks come to mind) go through a traumatic experience and, in an instant, lose their precious locks. This won't happen to you, no matter how traumatic the experience. Much more dangerous to hair is prolonged stress, which can cause hair loss through three conditions: alopecia areata, trichotillomania, and telogen effluvin.

Hair products are hair assassins


There aren't any hair sprays or gels that contain active ingredients known to cause male baldness. You can take a step in the right direction by using natural products with ingredients like Aloe Vera and chamomile, but even the ingredients you can't read that you see in hair products are harmless to your hair and scalp.

Types of Hair


Humans grow many different types of hair on their bodies, depending on age and genetics. In addition, each of these types of hair also appear in several different variations.

  1. Lanugo hair is hair that is located on an unborn baby. The hairs are very fine and soft and begin growing around three months of conception. This hair grows at the same rate and therefore is the same length.

  2. Vellus hair is short hair. These hairs are only a centimeter or two long and contain very little pigment, or no pigment at all as follicles that produce this hair do not have any oil glands. This causes them to never produce any other type of hair.

  3. Terminal hairs are long hairs that grow on the head and the body. These hairs are produced by follicles with sebaceous glands. Individuals, who have inherited a tendency for baldness, will notice that these hair follicles will become thicker and shorter and eventually will look like Vellus hairs.

Newborn babies that are full term actually have two types of hair. They possess terminal hair, which grows on the scalp and the eyebrows, but no where else on the body. The rest of the hair is Vellus. Once the baby begins to grow, so will the hair on his head, creating an even tone.

hair and scalp

Two periods of the baby's growth will cause the hair to grow at a rapid speed. The hair growth begins at the forehead extending back to the neck. At around two to three months the baby's hair will actually shed naturally. As the baby grows, the hair on the head grows too.

The first year of the child's life all the hairs on the child’s head will grow at the same rate. The hair will finally have full coverage. Next, the hair will grow independently at different rates.

Many children's growth patterns will change as they grow. Before puberty, the scalp carries a mixture of short Vellus-like hairs and longer terminal hairs, together with various 'in-between' hairs.

After an individual reaches puberty, in both sexes, most of the scalp hairs are terminal hairs. The terminal hairs of the scalp are thicker in diameter than the childhood hairs, especially in darker haired individuals. Hence, when puberty arrives, so does terminal hair.

Older individuals find that their hair continues to grow quite rapid and strong and continue to have quite a bit of hair at 80. Other people have hair that begins to thin as they age and by time they reach 80, they have very little hair. This is caused by both genetics and the health of the individual's hair.