Terminal hair, what they are and how they are formed


The terminal hairs are coarse, strong, pigmented and totally viable. These hairs can be found in abundance on the scalp, pubic area, under the arms, and in the beard area only in the adult male. The opposite of the terminal hair is called hair vellus.


What are the differences between vellus hair and terminal hair?

The vellus hairs resemble curly hairs. They are fine and not very pigmented as opposed to terminal hair which is thick, long, pigmented and dark. Vellus hair does not contain glands (responsible for producing the essential oil so that the hair can grow perfectly in the hair follicle) while terminal hair does.


How do we get terminal hair?

Hair is created in the Anagen phase in the hair growth stage. All terminal hair is at some point finer and shorter in the telogen phase. When they are in the anagen phase they begin to be more grey, darker and obviously mature. These types of changes occur in both men and women.
Since men have more testosterone than women they will have more terminal hairs (hair and non-hair) in other parts of the body which will then appear dark and dense. It is important to note that not all vellus hair becomes terminal and obviously both types of hair (terminal and vellus) can be found on the body at the same time.

The characteristics that affect the percentage of vellus/terminal hair are ethnic and sexual. A man will definitely present a greater number of terminal hairs on the body than a woman.


Can terminal hair become vellus?

Yes but this occurs when the hair enters the telogen phase. Hair that remains in the telogen phase for months may look fine and unripe. In this case of course the process is only temporary unless the hair is subject to DHT.

The rule then is that a vellus hair is not necessarily a miniaturized hair while a miniaturized hair will most likely become a vellus.


Drug therapy and terminal hair

It is possible to use medicines to make hair improve over time and become terminal. minoxidil, for example, can stimulate terminal hair regrowth although the exact mechanism of operation remains unknown.
DHT inhibitors such as finasteride (proscar, propecia) may reduce in DHT present in the body.

With less DHT in the body, hair follicles continue to receive nutrients and may begin to grow as normal. You should always consult your doctor before considering taking a medication such as finasteride or minoxidil.


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