Follicle Is

Embedded Inside The Skin

The hair follicle or root can be embedded anything from 1-5mm underneath the epidermis. Depending upon the body area. But there are exceptions.

Structure Of Skin And Hair

The hair follicle is the part of the hair that is embedded to varying depths inside the dermis of the skin. It is made up of the hair bulb plus the first part of the hair shaft that is inside the skin.

Anatomically this growing part of the hair is very complex. It changes continuously and considerably during the course of the growth cycle.

The amount of body hair differs very much from body area to body area. And of course from person to person too.

The role of skin type

There are huge differences between different ethnical groups, as well as different skin types as measured by the Fitzpatrick skin classification questionnaire.

Skin types IV to VI on the Fitzpatrick classification scale are more prone to ingrown hair than skin types I to III.

Types IV to VI normally have very curly to frizzy hair and olive to black skins. You get ingrown hair in when the follicle is irritated or gets distorted for some reason or the another.

What is the role of melanin?

Melanogenesis, or colouring, occurs within the cortex of pigmented hair follicles.

Grey hair and white hair are totally devoid of melanin.

These melanocyte cells contain a chemical pigment called melanin that gives color to the skin and hair.

It can be either eumelanin that color hair black. Or pheomelanin that color hair into various shades ranging from blond to red.

The hair shaft might be the beautiful part of the hair, but the hair follicle is the important part. This is where the hair is built by means of the constant multiplication of cells.

As the cells are pushed upwards towards the skin surface, differentiation takes place. Everything that goes wrong here, will for a fact show in the hair once it leaves the skin.

Lengthwise section

  1. The lower part (bulb and suprabulb) starts at the base of the bulb and reaches to where the arrector pilli muscle is fixed to the hair.
  2. The middle part (isthmus) is the short section between the insertion of the arrector pilli muscle to where the sebaceous gland duct enters the follicle tube.
  3. The upper part (infundibulum) reaches from the entrance of the sebaceous gland duct to the opening in the skin.

Crosswise section

Cross-wise several concentric cell layers or lamella are formed. Each cell layer has its own function, as well as characteristics.

  1. Right at the center is the medulla layer of the hair.
  2. Then follows the middle cortex layer of the hair shaft.
  3. The third and last layer of the hair shaft is the outside shingle-like cuticle layer.
  4. Once outside the bulb region, the hair shaft is embedded inside the inner root sheath. Adjacent to the hair shaft’s cuticle layer is a single layer of inner sheath cuticle cells. These two cuticle layers is closely interlinked.
  5. The middle layer of the inner sheath is called the Huxley layer and can be up to four cell layers thick.
  6. The outside layer of the inner sheath is called the Henley layer and is only a single layer thick.
  7. The outer root sheath layer surrounds the inner root sheath. The layer is thinnest around the bulb and thickest around the middle of the follicle.
  8. The single glossy (vitreous) layer surrounds the outer hair sheath
  9. The fibrous root sheath is the outermost layer and surrounds the vitreous or glossy layer.

Inner root sheath

The inner sheath is several layers thick and unpigmented or colourless. These layers are formed by proliferation of the matrix cells towards the outside (periphery) of the follicle.

The function of the root sheath is to protect the hair shaft while fiber are being laid down. This all happens while the hair is still inside the skin.

The inner sheath lies directly next to the shingle-like cells of the hair cuticle. These cells differentiate into inner and outer sheath cells.

Later keratinization of the sheath cells takes place. These cells are pushed upwards by the new cells from beneath. In other words, the hair is growing.

Products of the sebaceous oil gland combines with the cells of the inner sheath to break it down. The break down takes place at the level of the sebaceous duct opening.

The debris left over after the breakdown process, mixes with the sebaceous gland oils. It is sebum.

Sebum is expelled from the hair opening and are washed away during normal daily grooming. Overproduction of sebum can lead to hardened oily plugs called commedomes (blackheads).

Sebum is a nutrient rich material and the ideal habitat for bacteria to proliferate in. The bacteria “Propionibacterium acnes” can lead to inflammation and acne vulgaris.

Would you be interested to see photographs of folliculitis infections?

Outer root sheath

This sheath is an extension of the epidermis and contains the “bulge” of the hair. The bulge is believed to be the storage area for hair follicle stem cells. Dermatologists are not in total agreement over this.

Extending from the sheath is the sebaceous gland. The gland is a few large cells that are focused on the production of oils. The gland is connected to the follicular tube by a sebaceous duct.

This duct has a single miniscule opening into the follicular tube. The sebaceous gland always remains active, while the follicle goes through phases of activity and rest.

The arrector pilli muscle is responsible for pulling the hair upright. This muscle’s action is very closely linked to human emotions (fear, unease) as well as the temperature (cold) fluctuations the body experiences. You might know it as goose flesh.

Dermal papilla

This is where the hair gets its nutrients from. At the end of the catagen phase the follicle breaks free from the dermal papilla and moves upwards towards the skin surface.

The papilla then goes into a resting period, until the next anagen phase starts again.

The dermal papilla is the part of the hair that must be destroyed to prevent re-growth of the hair. This is the target of electrolysis as well as light generated or photo epilation hair removal methods, like laser or intense pulsed light (IPL),

The papilla is fed food and oxygen by very small blood vessels that enters it from the very bottom. Waste are also removed by these tiny blood vessels. The papilla is highly sensitive.

Chemicals like chemotherapy and hormones reach the hair through the papilla. The chemicals influences the hair to grow faster, slower, or not at all.

At the very bottom of the hair, where the tiny blood vessels enter it, sensory nerve fibers wrap around each hair bulb. This sensitive touch receptors immediately register when a hair has been touched in any way.

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