Human Moulting


People who live with pets notice that some animals moult in the spring and fall. Losing feathers or fur is unattractive, but it leads to a beautiful new coat in which to survive the winter or to attract a mate. It turns out humans also moult.

Hair grows in a three-phase process. During the anagen phase, the tiny bud of the follicle sinks down and grows a new robust follicle underneath the shriveled follicle of the last hair. The new hair grows up alongside the old one, peeping out of the same orifice, until the old, rootless hair finally falls out.

A study, which admittedly used only Caucasian men, found that among active people who spent a great deal of time outdoors, well over 90% of their follicles were in anagen in the early spring, and by the autumn only about 80% were in anagen. The autumn also doubled the rate of shed hairs.

A second study of women in New York found that women grow more hair in the spring and moult in the fall, just like men do. And it’s not just scalp hair that undergoes these changes. Men’s beards kicked their growth up in the spring.

Top photo by Shelby H.
Via io9.

This entry was posted in Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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