Repair Time: How to Reactivate Dormant and Dead Hair Follicles

by Viviscal Hair Expert on October 6th, 2017

Is your thinning hair simply in the resting phase of your natural hair growth cycle or are your follicles actually dead? Learn how to reactivate dormant and dead hair follicles to re-grow strong, healthy hair.

Half of all women will have hair loss at some point in their lives. This statistic you might know already. But the good news is that for lots of these women, thinning in the form of extra hair in the shower drain or brush, or even a widening part, is due to factors like stress, poor diet or hormonal fluctuations. No doubt it’s incredibly scary and even embarrassing. But for these types of hair loss, there are clinically proven solutions available such as hair vitamin supplements, or even DIY remedies to invigorate blood flow to follicles, such as scalp massages and essential oils. 

However, if you don’t believe that your hair loss falls into this category, you could in the sizable group that has dormant or dead hair follicles. If that’s you, you know all too well that your hair loss is not short-term or minor. You might take comfort in knowing that you’re one of about six million women worldwide with this issue. But you’ll probably take even more comfort in knowing that in most cases, there are solutions for how to repair dead hair follicles.

How to Identify Resting vs. Dead Hair Follicles

First, how do you know if your hair follicles are dormant or dying, or if you’re just experiencing temporary thinning? If your hair follicles are shedding hair and your hair looks thin, your hair may actually just be in the normal phase of the hair growth cycle called the telogen (or resting) phase, which lasts about three months and leads directly into the exogen (shedding) phase. Every hair on your head is at a different stage of the hair growth cycle at any given time. So that thinning that you’re seeing may simply be normal and temporary.

However, keep a close eye on those thinning or (gulp!) balding spots. If you’ve had sparse or non-existent hair growth in those areas for two years or more — that means no fuzzy baby hairs, nothing — then your follicles may be dormant or even dead. As long as your hair loss is not caused by hereditary factors or severe scarring, there are steps you can take to repair your damaged hair follicles. But you’re going to need some follicular intervention — stat!

How to Treat Dead Hair Follicles

First, DO NOT PANIC. It’s not the first time we’ve said that on this blog and it won’t be the last, but it bears repeating. There are treatments that likely can help you repair and regrow dead hair follicles.

Minoxidil

One very good medication to reactivate dormant hair follicles is minoxidil. Applied regularly to the scalp, minoxidil can re-grow hair that has completely stopped growing. The only caveat is that once you start taking it, you’ll have to keep taking it indefinitely. Otherwise, all that new hair growth very quickly will reverse.

DHT Blockers + Hair Vitamins

A few hair loss sufferers swear by the potent combination of DHT blockers and hair growth vitamins to kick their dormant follicles into high gear. Although there’s little decisive scientific data for this particular regimen, the logic makes sense.

The body produces DHT (or dihydrotesterone) as a result of testosterone interacting with an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, and sensitivity to DHT is believed to cause male pattern baldness. If miniaturizing follicles and a receding hairline follow that tell-tale horseshoe shape of many balding men, then excess DHT could be the culprit.

In part, DHT sensitivity miniaturizes hair follicles by blocking the flow of key hair nutrients from reaching them. This means that your follicles wouldn’t get all the amino acids, vitamins and minerals that they need to grow strong healthy hair. So, if you follow this regimen, combine a good DHT blocker with a boost of vitamins and minerals from a good hair supplement for women. Some herbal extracts may have DHT blocking properties, such as saw palmetto and rosemary oil. Consider trying an herbal DHT blocker instead of a medication — after consulting your healthcare provider.

A New Clinical Trial

Though this hair regrowth clinical trial‘s findings are limited to mice only for the moment, scientists from Kligman Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine may have found a way eventually to stimulate hair follicles in human women (and men). They found that by cutting the skin and artificially activating a series of 20 growth factors called Wnt proteins, they doubled the number of hair follicles in a given area. Researchers hope to apply this finding to develop a salve or even scalp dermabrasion techniques that will replicate these hair regrowth results in human subjects very soon. Fingers, and paws, crossed.

One last note: there are lots of medical, medicinal and nutritional options that may help repair dead or damaged hair follicles. Just be sure to consult a doctor or pharmacist before you begin a new or unfamiliar regimen. Even home remedies and herbal supplements can cause adverse side effects if you didn’t have an intolerance to them.