Our hair is the most important part of our appearance. We put every possible effort in order to keep it strong and healthy. However, this is easier said than done. Hair problems are very common and faced by people of all ages and gender. Though there are a number of ways to deal with these problems, the first and foremost step is to understand your hair and the hair growth cycle. This will help you to not only treat hair problems but also deal with them in a better way.
What Is The Hair Growth Cycle?
Our hair grows from the follicles which are found beneath the skin. The hair starts growing as it receives nourishment from the blood vessels. From the time your hair starts growing until it falls, it goes through three major stages, which are collectively known as the hair life cycle. The time for hair growth cycle differs from person to person. Each hair strand can be at any of the 3 stages of the hair growth cycle, at a given point of time.
Once the hair growth cycle is complete, it restarts again with a new strand of hair. Your hair can grow up to 6 inches or 15 centimeters in a year.
Stages Of The Hair Growth Cycle
The three main stages of the hair cycle are – anagen, catagen, and telogen.
- Anagen – Anagen phase is also known as the ‘growing phase’. In this phase, the cells present in the hair roots get divided rapidly. The older cells which are dead, are pushed out of the hair bulb where they get keratinized and then the baby hair begins to grow. On average, the anagen stage of hair growth lasts anywhere between two to seven years. During this phase, your hair will grow about 1.25 cm in a month.
Genetics play a key role in determining how well your hair will grow in this period. Your hair will grow longer if it stays in this hair cycle stage for a longer period of time. At any point of time, at least 85% – 90% of your hair will be in this stage. If you observe that your hair length remains constant and is not increasing, then it is possible that you have a shorter anagen stage of hair growth.
- Catagen – The next stage in the hair growth cycle is the catagen phase which is also called the transitional phase. In this phase, your hair basically stops growing. The catagen stage lasts for about two to three weeks during which the outer root sheath starts shrinking and gets attached to the hair root. The hair strand gets detached from papilla because of which it stops receiving the nourishment.
At any point of time, about 3% of your total hair will be in the catagen stage of hair growth. In simple word, the hair strands are no longer active once they reach the catagen phase.
- Telogen – The telogen stage of hair growth is also called the resting phase or the shedding phase. This shedding phase of the hair growth cycle occurs when your hair has become completely inactive. During the telogen phase, the epidermal cells which are present along the follicle channel will continue to grow and they might assemble around your hair’s base. This will keep the hair strands temporarily in place. After some time, when the follicle starts growing, they will loosen up the shaft’s anchoring point, which in turn will release your hair from the root and cause shedding.
At any point of time, around 6% – 8% of your hair will be in the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle and it can last up to 100 days on your scalp. Shedding about 100-150 strands in a day is normal.
Hair Changes At Different Stages Of Life
You will experience about 25 hair growth cycles in your lifetime. Though your hair is growing in different phases, your total hair count would mostly remain the same. The ideal ratio between the anagen and telogen phase which is also referred to as A/T ratio is 80:20. This indicates that at a certain time, 80% of your total hair is in the anagen phase and the remaining 20% are in the telogen phase.
The rate at which your hair grows depends upon various factors such as season, aging, hormonal changes, medications, genetics, diet, stress, etc. For example, during summers your hair grows much quickly as compared to the winters and the autumn season sees more hair fall than the other seasons.
There are various hair growth stimulants which can help you in dealing with your hair loss problems. These treatments and medications must be dermatologist prescribed and include –
● Platelet-Rich Plasma – A non-invasive and therapeutic treatment which helps in restoring and re-growing the scanty regions of the scalp. It uses the patient’s own blood extracted from a donor site (usually the arm) and then put to US-FDA approved centrifuge. This double spin centrifugal device helps in separating the platelets which are then activated and injected back into the scalp to stimulate the dormant hair follicles. It enables regrowth of the hair
● Oral hair growth stimulants – Usually pills are prescribed by your dermatologist. Propecia is one such oral medication which is an effective hair stimulant for men.
● Topical hair growth stimulants – These are used in the form of lotions, foams, creams, etc. One of the most effective topical hair stimulants is Minoxidil, which can be used by both men and women. Approved by the US-FDA, you need to take one millimeter of minoxidil and gently massage it on your scalp at least twice a day. Apart from this, you can also use Aminexil which is an ingredient found in many shampoos used for hair stimulation, Pyrrolidinyl Diaminopyrimidine Oxide which is found in hair cosmetics, helps in fighting against hair loss, etc.
● Hair transplantation – It is another measure that you can opt for in order to stimulate the growth of hair. Here grafts of hair are removed from the donor site and then harvested under controlled conditions. Then tiny grafts are put back on the scanty areas of hair on the scalp, to stimulate new hair growth.
However, always consult with an expert dermato-trichologist first and only use medications (both oral and topical) based on their prescription.
● What is the average hair growth cycle (in years)?
On average, the hair growth cycle lasts for about 7 years.
● How many years does your hair grow before it falls out?
Ideally, your hair can grow for seven years, since the anagen phase lasts up to 7 years
● What are the 3 stages in the life cycle of a hair?
The life cycle of a hair goes through three stages – anagen (growing stage), catagen (transitional stage) and telogen (resting or shedding stage)
● How long does your hair grow in a day?
In a day, your hair grows anywhere between 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm.
● How fast does your hair grow in a month?
Your hair grows about 1.25 cm or 0.5 inches in a month.
● How long can you grow your hair?
On average, your hair can grow up to 36 inches long.
It is always important to have a deep understanding of an issue before you try to look for solutions to fix it. Your hair problems are also similar, and hence, it is better if you have a thorough knowledge of your hair and the hair growth cycle, so that you can look for better and effective solutions.