Follicle Color and the Prediction of Hair Loss
There are many times throughout life where we may begin to wonder if we are experiencing “telogen effluvium”, otherwise known to most of us as pattern baldness. Balding is a natural part of aging, but it certainly isn’t one we look forward to, and predicting or identifying baldness sooner rather than later can help you effectively treat and slow down its progression.
The good news is that there are a few tell-tale signs you can watch for if you are wondering if hair loss is in your future. One sign to watch for occurs on your hair follicles (more on that later).
Baldness and hair loss is a condition does not discriminate based on age, and though men typically experience the worst of it, females are also highly susceptible to hair loss and thinning.
If you notice a hair follicle with a bulb of white, know that the information in this guide will help you.
But First, What is a Hair Follicle Color and the Prediction of Hair Loss?
Strands of hair grow from cell-lined sacs known as follicles. Sebaceous glands are oil glands that secrete sebum to oil the skin and hair. If these follicles do not receive proper nutrients, they will fall off, resulting in permanent hair loss.
By looking at your scalp, you can determine if your follicles are still alive by looking for even the slightest, fuzziest hair. Live follicles produce hair that contain bulbs at their end.
What is a Hair Follicle Color and the Prediction of Hair Loss – Hair Bulb?
The bulb at the end of a strand of hair is the part of the hair closest to the root. When you see a white bulb at the end of the hair, it is not necessarily predictive of hair loss, but it can potentially be a sign.
Hair bulbs are mostly noticed when the hair falls out at the root or is pulled free. If there is no bulb, then it is known as breakage. Breakage will be discussed later in this guide.
What is the Hair Cycle?
Hair grows in cycles that occur over the period of a few years.
Each cycle contains four different periods:
- Anagen – For two to six years, the hair actively grows. The bulb forms in the lower part of the follicle due to active cell development.
- Catagen – This transitional stage can last for a few days or a few weeks. The hair is no longer actively growing, but the follicle is pushed out from the papilla: a large structure at the base of the follicle made of connective tissue and a capillary loop.
- Telogen – A new anagen hair is being formed beneath the surface while the present follicles are at rest. Soon, the new hair will push out the old hair.
- Exogen – The anagen hair pushes out the telogen hair. Anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs are lost each day during this part of the cycle.
Not all hair is in the same part of the cycle at the same time. This is why we experience continuous hair loss throughout the year. The issue occurs when your hair cycle gets off schedule, resulting in an extending resting stage.
Normal Hair Breakage
Hair can be broken without coming out at the bulb.
A few factors may cause this, such as:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Protein deficiency
- Mineral deficiency
- Stretching from tight hairstyles or styling when wet
- Dyes and Perms
- Heat Styling
- Overexposure to the sun
This premature breakage can be avoided by strengthening the hair or addressing problem areas. As you can see, maintaining a proper diet goes a long way to ensure your hair stays healthy, along with the rest of you. In fact, this is a key step if you begin to encounter this hair loss condition.
Other Signs of Hair Loss
Along with a large presence of white-bulb hairs, there are other signs that will signal if you are experiencing hair loss, such as:
- Thin, wispy hair – usually on the top of the scalp.
- Excess shedding of hair – especially for six months or more.
- Flaky and itchy scalp – this can be noted in many conditions, so check for this symptom to align with others.
- Receding hairline – this can be a sign of the stoppage of hair growth.
- Genetic hair loss – genetics play a large role in how our body behaves. Ask family members if they have ever been diagnosed.
These indicators, combined with the presence of white bulbs, can be indicative of telogen effluvium. White bulbs on hair follicles by themselves are not necessarily an indicator, so it is important to look for these other signs. As always, consult your doctor if you notice this occurring.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Do not be confused by fancy sounding words! Effluvium merely means “outflow”, and, as we know, telogen is a part of the hair cycle. This is defined as an “outflow of telogen”. Basically, the hair enters an extended period of rest.
Telogen effluvium occurs when too many hairs prematurely entire the telogen phase and stop growing. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, changes in hormones, and shock are all known causes of this condition, but there are many causes that are not yet known.
This thinning of the hair may not occur evenly. The top of the scalp usually experiences more hair loss than the sides or the back.
If you notice these symptoms, do not despair! Telogen effluvium is not a death sentence for your scalp. There are ways to stop excessive hair loss in its tracks and this particular condition is largely reversible when handled correctly.
Facts Concerning Telogen Effluvium
Now that we have defined telogen effluvium as a hair loss condition, let’s look at a few facts surrounding it:
- Telogen Effluvium more often affects women than it does men.
- Chronic telogen effluvium is characterized by periodic shedding that lasts more than six months at a time.
- Sudden weight loss can cause this condition, relating back to maintaining a healthy diet.
- Pregnancy can cause hormone shifts that result in this condition, but as noted, the condition is reversible.
- There are tests your doctor can perform to distinguish between this and other hair conditions, such as a wash test, a blood test, or a hair pull test.
It is also important to understand the causes of telogen effluvium, so you know when it is necessary to find out if you may be suffering from this condition.
Causes of Telogen Effluvium
There are many different causes of telogen effluvium. Some of the main ones include:
- Certain medications
- Metal toxicity
- Extremely traumatic events
- Major stress
- Poor diet
- Underlying health issues, such as thyroid problems
As you can see, some items are under personal control, while others are things you cannot control. The bottom line is to seek help if you suspect having this condition. There is no reason to suffer from something completely reversible with the proper care.
Types of Treatment
Telogen effluvium can be addressed in a variety of ways. Non-surgical hair replacement is one option. You can also seek counseling for the stressors in your life. When it comes to diet, take advantage of foods rich in protein, iron, and vitamins. Supplements are also an option.
If you notice excessive hair loss, try one of these solutions to reduce or eliminate hair loss issues:
- Start using all-natural hair products. Hormones in these products, such as DHT blockers, can help to strengthen hair. Essential oils such as melaleuca, evening primrose, and pumpkin seed can also be useful when diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
- Change your diet. Without proper nutrition, your hair lacks vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy growth. Probiotics, fiber, and low-glycemic foods can help with this. Consult a dietician to see what changes may be necessary.
- Reduce stress with controlled breathing. Stress is a major cause of excessive hair loss, and controlled breathing exercises or meditation can help reduce stress.
Do Not Let Stress Control Your Hair
Regardless of the original cause of your hair loss, stressing out will not help the situation. Take a deep breath, re-read this guide, and plan a course of action for your hair. Telogen effluvium is a completely reversible condition, and you can find the solution that is right for you.
In a few months, your hair will begin to recover from the steps you took to protect it. You may continue to notice white bulbs on hair roots, but this can be a natural occurrence, so do not fret over it. With a proper care regimen, your black hair follicles will flourish.
Find Ways to Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy
We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react to what happens to us. If your telogen effluvium is the result of dietary issues, use this opportunity to regain control of your health. If you need to find healthier ways to deal with stress in your life, seek the help you deserve.
Most of all, if this is the chronic telogen effluvium, realize that your hair does not define you, and resolve to live life anyway. There are many people with various types of hair conditions, or no hair at all, that still enjoy going out in public. By embracing who you are, you encourage others to embrace you as well.