Hair is very simple in structure. However, it has important functions in social functioning. The hair is made from a hard protein which is called keratin. Hair follicles fix each hair in the skin. The hair bulb forms the basis of the hair follicle. Living cells grow and divide to build a hair shaftin the hair bulb. Blood vessels nourish cells in the hair bulb and give hormones that change the growth and structure of the hair at different periods of life.
Hair growth (along with follicles) occurs in cycles consisting of 3 phases:
- The growth phase (anagen). Most hair grows at any time. At this phase, every hair spends a few years.
- Transitional phase (catagen). Within a few weeks, hair growth slows down and the hair follicles shrink.
- The phase of rest (telogen). Within months, hair growth stops and the old hair is separated from the hair follicle. New hair begins a phase of growth, pushing out old hair.
Hair grows at different speeds in different people. The average figure is about one and a half inches per month. Hair color is created by pigment cells producing melanin in the hair follicle. When aging, the pigment cells die and the hair becomes gray.
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However, there are following hair diseases:
- Alopecia areata. Round spots of the general loss of hair, usually on the head. The cause of alopecia is unknown. Hair is usually restored.
- Male pattern baldness. It is the most common type of hair loss just in men. The baldness usually includes either a hair loss at the crown, receding hairline, or both.
- Female hair loss. In women, hair loss usually involves a uniform thinning of the scalp, with a retained hairline. Crown can be affected but hair loss rarely goes to baldness, as in men.
- Inflammation of the hair follicles is usually due to infection. Staphylococcus aureus is bacteria that often cause folliculitis.