There is a lot of press at the moment regarding scientists finding ‘another’ reason for hair loss; There seems to be a mechanism that turns age damaged stem cells in hair follicles into skin. The hair follicles shrink and eventually disappear — leaving you with miniaturized/microscopic hairs.
Although theorised for many years, this the first time such a mechanism has been identified with direct ageing.
Unlike stem cells elsewhere in the body, hair follicle cells regenerate on a cyclical basis, as the hair follicle shrinks it ‘collects’ stem cells from the hair bulge (found half way up the follicle), this then kick starts the growth phase again.
There is noted to be reduction in something called ‘Collagen17A1’ which seems to trigger the miniaturization of the hair.
To complicate matters, this new hair loss problem seems to be a separate issue to good old fashioned Genetic ‘pattern’ hair loss (what is usually termed genetic thinning) …but if getting older and hair thinning through this different process is built into our DNA, this could also be called ‘genetic hair loss’!..(this could get confusing!)
The other part of the equation is always the issue of “what can be done to prevent this from happening?”
Can we just eat/drink more collagen to replenish our stores?
Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting was asked the same thing “collagen is a complicated protein. It is the scaffolding of all major organs. And yes, as we age we lose it. Exposure to sunshine and smoking hasten its demise. But we can’t lazily hope to replenish it with drinks, pills and creams”.
So adding more collagen to our diet or rubbing it on our face/scalps is not the way forward then?!
The part that reads age damaged stem cells is the possibly key to helping with prevention , what is “age damage” …well obviously this is the rate that your body (and so your hair) ages…and are there things that can slow this down!…but they are the usual things you hear of I’m afraid with no ‘secret tips’!
- Stop Smoking
- Prevent UV damage (wear hats in strong sunlight)
- Avoid being overweight
- Change your lifestyle now to avoid long term medication later in life.
- Eat healthy, lots of (Protein and Iron!)
All of the above is an issue when it comes to causing cellular damage, it stops our cells replicating as well as they should, each time they replicate they become more damaged and so the function they fulfil becomes harder to attain.
This is obviously not a recipe for ‘never losing your hair’ as many healthy people still have hair loss issues, but ‘every little helps’ as the ad goes and rampant genetic hair loss aside, your lifestyle will probably have the biggest impact on the health of your hair over anything else in your life!