Hairs spring from the skin, each having a root and a stem or shaft, which is generally rounded and varies and thickness. The chief part of the stem is of a fibrous character, the fibres being composed of soft cells with air spaces between them. The colour of the hair is due to the pigment scattered in varying amounts throughout the hair, while a white hair is produced by the formation of very numerous airspaces throughout the cells composing it. The root of the hair is set upon a fibrous papilla, from which it drives its nutriment. The root is deep and the growing part of the hair pushes the older part out through the cuticle.
The average rate of growth of hair is about 6 inches in a year, though in some persons when the hair reaches a certain length, it ceases to grow and is gradually pushed upwards till it falls out, to be replaced by a new hair which develops from a fresh papilla. Attached to the underside of each, follicle (the tube which contains the part of the hair embedded in the skin) is a small muscle. It is these muscles, which produce ‘goose-flesh’ when the hairs are raised. The sebaceous glands open into the follicles of the hair. It is the over active sebaceous glands which produce what fashion-conscious women call greasy hair. The secretion of the sebaceous glands reaches the surface by the hair follicle and serves to lubricate the hair and give pliability to the surface of the skin.
Blood, while it circulates through the skin, provides nutriment to the hair and if due to some defect the nutriment does not reach them, they start falling. No application of any oil or pomade or cream can provide the natural nutriment to the hair as is claimed by advertisements of hair-restorers. Only a vigorous massage of the head can activate the circulation of the blood in the skin and revitalize its function of providing the necessary nutriment to sustain the hair. Oil is merely a vehicle for massage; it has no other function. If massage is not neglected during childhood, a person is likely to have a full thatch throughout his life.
The skin that covers the scalp has to be healthy and the follicles and the sebaceous glands should function properly. The skin of the scalp must be thick and loose for a rich growth of hair.
Certain serious diseases are associated with partial loss of hair as one of their symptoms. They are: acute fevers, myxoedema (degenerative conditions of the subcutaneous and connective tissues due to a defect in the thyroid gland), syphilis, influenza, anemia and great anxiety or severe shock. Gradual premature baldness is generally hereditary. Sometimes it is preceded by dandruff, which, in its turn, is caused by decomposition of the natural oil in the hair. Each day in the process of combing, a certain number of hair, which have reached the end of their existence, fall out and are replaced. But, if the changes are too rapid, baldness results ultimately.
Falling of Hair
In some cases, if the hair fall out as a result of any particular disease, they are likely to be replaced when the patient gets rid of the disease. The hair may, in that sense, be called a barometer of disease. The moment the falling of the hair is noticed, one should take to vigorous massage of the scalp, because, if the hair fall and a fine down appear on the scalp, total baldness is not far away.
The hatband or the cap should never be tight because it is likely to interfere with the circulation of the blood in the scalp.
After the scalp has been thoroughly and vigorously massaged, rinse the hair with cold water and then comb your hair. A cold douche of the hair is always helpful if done regularly. The best way to do it is to immerse your head in a flat-bottomed vessel for a minute. The hair should be combed with the fingers and dried through massage.
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Dr John Anne