Every person has a distinct hair type, length, thickness, and texture, which means everyone’s hair grows a little differently. However, regardless of hair type, all hair follicles go through three phases of hair growth and a fourth shedding phase.
Each of these 4 phases of hair growth happens in a different timeline. Learning about each stage can help you better understand hair loss and how different treatments can help. So let’s learn a little more about them.
1. Anagen Phase
Hair growth begins with the anagen or growing phase. In this phase, the hair forms in the follicle, and grows in length and thickness.
The anagen stage is the longest phase of hair growth and can last for several years, during which the hair continues to grow. Usually, about 80-90% of hair follicles are in the anagen phase at any given time.
2. Catagen Phase
The catagen phase is a transitional stage in the 4 phases of hair growth. In this phase, the hair reaches the end of its lifespan and begins the process of falling out. This stage is the shortest phase of your hair growth cycle, normally lasting around 10 to 14 days.
During this phase of hair growth, the hair follicles slow in their growth rate and begin to shrink in size, forming what is known as club hair. Usually, about 3-5% of your hair is in the catagen phase at any given time.
3. Telogen Phase
The telogen phase is also known as the resting phase. In this phase of hair growth, the club hair remains dormant and does not grow or undergo any changes in size. This phase typically lasts about three months. An estimated 10 to 15% of your scalp hair is in telogen at any given time.
4. Exogen Phase
The final stage of the 4 phases of hair growth is the exogen or shedding phase. In this phase of hair growth, which is sometimes considered an extension of the telogen stage, the club hair detaches from your scalp. The hair cycle then begins anew as the follicles enter the anagen stage to grow new hair.
How the Phases of Hair Growth Affect Hair Loss
When you experience hair thinning and balding, it is often a result of a condition that changes the normal hair cycle of the 4 phases of hair growth.
For example, in androgenetic alopecia, the most common form of hair loss, each cycle of the anagen phase shortens while the telogen phase lengthens in duration. As a result, the hair grows less and is shed at a faster rate, becoming shorter and thinner with each cycle. This process is known as miniaturization.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) and the Hair Cycle
Many treatments for hair loss, specifically pattern hair loss, work by helping to maintain the length and potency of the anagen phase of hair growth. Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is one such treatment.
LLLT uses low-intensity red laser light to stimulate the cells of the hair follicle, allowing them to perform cellular respiration with greater efficiency. This allows the follicle to increase the portion of its cycle spent in the anagen phase and also the rate of growth of the hair shaft during this phase. In this way, the process of miniaturization is reversed and the follicle grows thicker, healthier hair.
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