Information on loose anagen hair syndrome-a severe hair shaft defect

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Loose anagen hair syndrome
Loose anagen hair syndrome (loose anagen syndrome, loose anagen hair) is a non-inflammatory, non-scarring form of hair loss. It is a condition that has been defined very recently and it generally affects the children. As the name suggests, loose anagen syndrome means growth of hair that is “loose” and easily pulled out of the hair follicle.

It is generally diagnosed in young children and is more likely to occur in girls than boys. In this type of hair shaft defect the hair never seems to grow and so the sufferers do not require a hair cut. The hair fibers on the scalp are generally thin, especially at the back of the scalp.

Causes of hair loosening
The hair becomes loose and comes out of the follicle due to the repeated rubbing of a person’s head on a pillow while sleeping. Frequent rubbing pulls out more of the hair from the back of the head whereas the front of the scalp has less contact with the pillow and so the hair is more likely to remain in place. But the remaining hair does not grow very long and it can be unruly and difficult to comb and style.

Mechanism of loose anagen hair syndrome
The mechanism of hair loosening in loose anagen syndrome is uncertain. But the researchers generally suggest the unhealthy root sheaths to be the reason. Though the hair follicles affected by loose anagen hair syndrome remain in growth phase, the root sheaths that normally surround and protect the hair shaft are not produced properly.

Also, the hair fiber is poorly anchored with the hair follicle. The poor attachment of the hair fiber is due to the lack of adhesion between the hair shaft and the inner root sheath. It is suggested by the experts that there is premature keratinization of the inner root sheath. The early keratinization reduces the adhesion of the inner root sheath with the hair shaft. So the hair fibers are weak and can be pulled out easily from the scalp.

Microscopic observation of the hair fiber
The affected hair fibers when observed under microscope are often seen to be irregularly shaped with longitudinal grooves. Although the structure is strong, sometimes the fibers have a sparkling (spangled) look when viewed under bright light. Very occasionally the fiber has a sticky feel when touched.

Treatments or hair care secrets
The treatment or hair care secrets for this defect are to handle the hair gently. Gentle handling can decrease the shedding of fibers to a fair extent. No other treatment or hair care is necessary, as the defect usually reverts spontaneously to its normal healthy stage in mid or late teens.

Harrison S, Sinclair R. “Optimal Management of Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Children”, 2003, Am J Clin Dermatol; 4 (11)

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