According to a new study by the University of Carolina, the old wives' tale that warns if you pluck out a grey hair 'two more will come to its funeral', may not be too far from the truth - and may help hair loss
Plucking hair triggers regrowth
Researchers at the University of Carolina, in collaboration with colleagues in Taiwan, China and Scotland, found that plucking out hairs can make them grow back around six times as thick. However, this would mean plucking the scalp to remove all hairs, one by one, from balding areas.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Cell
, found that if you forcibly remove hair, it sends a distress signal to the surrounding cells. This 'sense and response' reaction, known as quorum sensing, boosts hair growth
and compensates for the loss by producing new hairs in that area.
Tested on mice
Researchers carried out their study using mice as test subjects, plucking 200 hairs in designated patches of varying sizes from each mouse.
One month later, the findings later noted that, where the hairs were plucked from a small area, at least twice as many hairs grew back. One of the mice regrew 1,300 new hairs, including some outside the previously plucked area.
This regrowth was found to be due to the chemical distress signal produced by the initial shock of having each hair plucked out. This signal forced hairs in the resting, or 'telogen' phase of the hair growth cycle, back into the 'anagen', or growth stage.
The study found that the chemical signal had to reach a precise strength for regrowth to occur. Furthermore, where hairs were taken from areas that were too large, there was no regrowth as the signal was too weak. Similarly, where the plucked area was too small, the removed hairs grew back but there was no further growth outside this.
Conclusions from the study state that the best results were seen on mice where 200 hairs were plucked from a patch half a centimetre in width.
New wave of hair loss treatments
The research team hopes that this discovery will help them work towards producing the next generation of hair loss treatments
for those losing their hair to male and female pattern baldness
However, clearly further clinical trials on human test subjects would be required so any new treatments could still be a while off happening yet. According to one of the study's authors, Philip Murray of Dundee University,"It would be a bit of a leap of faith to expect this to work in bald men without doing more experiments.
In the meantime, anyone worried by signs of hair loss
- whether from Male Pattern Baldness
or Female Hair Loss
- should consult a hair specialist
as soon as possible.
Early intervention in the form of medically-proven treatments can help to stabilise shedding and promote the type of regrowth seen in Belgravia's exclusive gallery of Hair Loss Success Stories