Just what is a dormant hair follicle? Learn how to spot if your follicles are no longer growing or just in between hair cycles.
The cycle of hair growing, pausing, shedding, and regrowing is normal. But, sometimes it may be difficult to tell this shedding and regrowth cycle apart from hair loss that will not grow back.
When hair follicles stop producing hair altogether, that hair follicle is now considered dormant, and future hair growth from that follicle is unlikely if not impossible.
Below, we will cover the specifics of hair dormant hair follicles, how this is different from the hair resting phase, how you can tell if you have some dormant follicles, and how to help maintain the overall health of your hair follicles in the first place.
Hair follicles can be thought of as the hair-growing pores in the scalp which are responsible for the growth, pausing, shedding, and then regrowth of one hair, over and over. These pores are also responsible for coating the growing hair in sebum, a natural scalp oil that helps maintain the health, moisture, and shine of your hair.
But, dormant hair follicles are just how they sound, dormant, and no longer producing growth.
Dormant hair follicles can occur from physical damage to the hair follicle, leading to it no longer being able to grow hair. Or, more commonly, hair follicles can be slowly miniaturized from exposure to a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
Hair follicle miniaturization from DHT is commonly seen in male pattern hair loss. What happens is that the hair follicles start shrinking and producing thinner, finer, and shorter strands before shedding them, and their growth period is shorter. Eventually, if the process is left to go on, the miniaturized hair follicle will stop producing hair altogether and after a year or two of no new growth, will be considered dormant.
It is very difficult if not impossible to attenuate hair growth once the follicles have gone dormant, which is why doctors often stress the importance of starting hair loss treatments at the first signs of changes to your hair.
The normal succession of growth phases of your hair follicles are:
At the end of these 4 phases, a healthy hair follicle will just restart all over again at phase 1. This is why the normal shedding of hair is not considered an issue, it is all just part of the hair growth cycle process.
But, dormant hair follicles mean that the growth phase has probably shortened over the course of many cycles, and the hairs keep getting shorter, finer, and thinner. Eventually, a hair follicle that becomes dormant will shed its hair in the exogen phase and then not start growing again in the anagen phase. Or, in the case of damage to the scalp, the injured area may just immediately stop the progression of stages.
Just because you are noticing shedding or even balding areas, it does not always mean that all of those hair follicles have gone dormant.
Really look at your scalp closely, and feel around for hair, even if they are short, thin, fine, and have no pigmentation. Sometimes people call these very fine hairs “peach fuzz”, but the technical term is vellus hairs.
If there is any hair at all still growing out of a hair follicle, it is not yet dormant (although it may be on its way there).
Maintaining long-term healthy hair follicles tends to be a whole-body health venture. You will want to cover all of your nutrition bases by eating a nutrient-dense diet, taking a supplement if needed, getting regular exercise for good scalp blood-flow, washing the scalp regularly (but not too often), and not smoking.
Also, some people find benefits in regular scalp massages or mixing in some topical scalp essential oils.
Another way to help get on top of hair problems when you first notice them is to speak with a doctor or dermatologist about changes to your hair. With hair loss, the sooner you start addressing hair changes, the better your outcome will potentially be. If you wait until you have large patches of dormant follicles, topical and oral treatments may no longer work for you and surgical procedures may be your only option.
You can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation today to see if medications may help with your hair loss. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription can be shipped to your front door.
If you have any questions, concerns, or need adjustments during your treatment, our staff and doctors are available for free unlimited follow-ups.