Can Plucking Your Hair Combat Hair Loss?
While the shaved head look has been back in fashion for the last few years, many men adopt that look because they don’t have enough hair to cover their scalp. However, there might be help on the way for those who suffer from hair loss. One possible cure seems to go against the idea of losing your hair: Plucking a certain number of hairs from the scalp as well as plucking them in a specific formation.
Hair follicles have stem cells that divide and provide the push behind the growth of new hair. A recent study performed on mice was published in Cell. The study spotlights both the regeneration of a single hair follicle as well as the regrowth of a number of follicles that had been affected by the hair loss. The study showed that the act of plucking some hair properly arranged in a formation can cause hair follicle stem cells to regenerate up to five times more of the surrounding hairs that have not been plucked in nearby locations. This includes regeneration of follicle stem cells that have been injured by plucking.
It was discovered in the study that regeneration can happen as a result of a collective decision making process. As noted above, plucking a predetermined number of hairs caused five times more of the surrounding hair to activate and grow. Plucking below that predetermined number did not cause any hair to be regenerated. The “all or nothing” regeneration process is an example of “quorum sensing” which means that a decision making process depends on the meeting of certain criteria in a group. In this case, the hair plucking causes the follicle stem calls to be stimulated. The plucked hair signals surrounding cells and, if the criteria of enough plucked hair are met, the hair regrowth will happen. If the criteria have not been met, nothing will happen. Further research shows that the signals are transmitted through an immune response consisting of two steps sparked by the plucking of the hair. The injured hair follicle stem cells release a signal that acts in tandem with the surrounding hair follicle cells.
While it is too early to tell how effective this study will be in helping to find a cure for baldness, it does suggest that strategies involving the use of regeneration might be another option for treating hair loss in the future.