by Rochelle Farquharson via blacknaps.org

The state of your scalp dictates whether or not your hair grows! Say whaaaaaaaat? But my hair is always growing! Yes, it grows, but only if you maintain a healthy scalp.

I want you to think about your scalp and hair, and compare it to growing and maintaining a plant. If the soil is watered and is weed-free, then that plant is destined to thrive. The scalp is the foundation of healthy hair, and to achieve length, you must maintain a regimen that caters to keeping the hair and scalp clean and healthy. Scalp health is not just about maintaining the skin that is visible through your strands; it’s also about preserving what’s underneath. I’m referring to the hair follicle.

The Hair Follicle

The hair has two distinct features: the hair follicle, which resides below the scalp, and the hair shaft, which is visible above the skin. The follicle is a structure of the skin that produces hair growth, and according to the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, if that follicle is damaged, you can over time suffer from alopecia. The health of the hair follicle is very important when trying to achieve a healthy scalp along with healthy or long hair.

Factors that Damage the Follicle and Stop Hair Growth

Dehydration: Water plays an extremely important role in providing the follicles with blood and nutrients to facilitate hair growth. The daily water intake recommended by experts is 64 ounces, or 8 glasses, of water. However, you should aim to drink as much as you can throughout the day (within reason, of course) to hydrate your body and hair. So drink up, ladies!

Tension: Tension from tight hairstyles may remove the follicles from the scalp and cause damage. The damage varies from person to person, but tension can create permanent hair loss if the damage is severe.

Chemicals: Sodium hydroxide and other chemicals have the ability to damage the scalp and follicles severely and ultimately prevent hair growth. So be extremely careful when using any chemicals on your hair and opt for going to a professional stylist for these treatments.

Other factors:
-Medications
-Unbalanced hormones
-Poor diet
-Extreme heat
-Illness
-Unhealthy hair products

The Scalp’s Role in Hair Growth

Scalp skin can be viewed as a variant of normal skin in that it has an epidermis and dermis, but it also has a greater concentration of large, terminal hair follicles. The hair follicle has a growth cycle (anagen, catagen and telogen phases) that can be altered by hormones, medications, diet, illness and many other factors. The health of the hair and the scalp’s epidermis and dermis is largely determined by good nutrition and hair care products, which play a major role in hair growth, hair shaft thickness, and the survival and growth of the hair shaft and follicles.

How to Identify an Unhealthy Scalp

A healthy scalp is clean with clear pores, intact follicles, and good blood flow. The characteristics of an unhealthy scalp include:

Seborrheic Dermatitis (Dandruff): Dandruff is usually caused by too much bacteria or yeast on the scalp which results in flakes and sometimes red sores and spots.

Other factors:
-Consistent itching
-Extreme dryness
-Clogged pores
-Alopecia
-Tenderness
-Excessively oily scalp
-Eczema
-Psoriasis

Sources:
http://www.the-dermatologist.com/content/maintaining-healthy-scalp-and-hair-improved-hair-growth
http://www.jcasonline.com

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