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CHANGES WITH AGING: HAIR

 

 

Hair Growth

Hair is remarkably tough and in good condition, it shines, is easy to manage. As we age hair tends to become thinner and lose its pigmentation.

Hair growth is cyclical with a pattern of three distinct phases.

  1. The anagen phase is the growing phase. 85-95% of our body hairs are in this phase
  2. The catagen is a transitional phase between growth and follicle resting
  3. The telogen phase is the cessation of growth and the phase when hair loss occurs. Involves 10-15% of hair follicles at any one time and lasts for 100 to 200 days

During our lifetime, a single hair follicle may undergo 10 to 20 cycles.

 

Hair Colour

Color of hair is due to the presence in the cortex of granules of pigment called melanin, produced by cells [melanocytes] in the hair bulb during the growing phase. Melanin is found in two forms:

  1. Eumelanin is the dark pigment which predominates in black and brunette hair
  2. Phaeomelanin is a lighter pigment, which is found in red and blond hair.

It is common to have a mixture of the two: the more eumelanin there is in the mixture, the darker is the hair.

 

Age Related Hair Conditions

The two signficant changes in hair with age are:

  1. Greying hair
  2. Hair Loss

 

Greying Hair

Loss of hair color is caused by the gradual dying of adult stem cells that continuously generate a supply of melanocytes.

The Melanocytes stop producing pigment and small air spaces take its place resulting in ‘transparent’ hair. The transparent hair against your healthier darker hair gives the appearance of grey.

As a person grows older and reaches middle age, Melanocytes start generating less pigment to the hair follicle and as more and more of these pigment cells die, colour is lost from individual hairs. People usually notice their first gray hairs near their temples, later greyness spreads to the crown, then to the back of the head.

Grey hair can be a symptom of improper protein synthesis and lack of nutrients such as vitamin B12 and Omega 3’s. Grey hair can also occur as a result of calcium deficiency.

Grey hair is one of the most familiar signs of aging, with half of all Caucasoid people, having 50% hairs on the scalp grey by the age of 50.

Overnight greying - In spite of stories, hair cannot go grey overnight. What does happen is that something triggers the sudden shedding of pigmented hair, leaving grey hair intact.


Premature graying – sometimes greying can occur unexpectedly early age; before the age of 20 in Caucasoids and before 30 in Africans. This is sometimes due to a medical condition but is more likely genetic. Hair is regarded as prematurely gray when 50% of scalp’s hair has changed its color to gray by the age of 40.

Behavioural Factors - Tobacco smokers have a four times greater likelihood of gray hair compared to people who do not smoke tobacco.

 

Grey Hair Indications

Gray hair has been claimed as an indicator of higher likelihood to develop certain medical conditions, including:

  • Heart Attack
  • Osteoporosis - researchers believe that the same genes that control early graying are the same as those that control bone density.

 

Hair Loss

Hair loss can range from mild thinning to complete baldness. When the loss of hair is constant, it can negate personal coping strategies for self-acceptance. Despite what many experts say, in our appearance-laden culture, your personal value or self-worth is (sadly) often defined by your outer appearance. In fact, its been reported that:

  • 93% of men and women think about hair loss
  • 88% of these persons feel frustrated and helpless about their condition

 

 

Antiaging Hair Treatments

 

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