OCT 11, 2017 3:40 PM PDT

Why Do Old People Have Less Hair?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Our hair is extremely personal and is part of our expression of our identity. Hair is also inextricably tied to youth. In addition to the telltale graying, as we age, our hair becomes less full and lush than before. Why do we lose our hair as we age?

Biological aging is a complex process that scientists are still trying to figure out. There are many factors to a person's lifespan, including their genetics, their epigenetics, and their environment. What we often see as signs of aging, such as sagging skin and hair loss, are outward manifestations of the internal aging of cells. This involves mutations that we inherently acquire as we live and grow.

Specific to hair, the follicles that produce hair become more ineffective with time. Not only do these tired follicles produce less melanin pigment (greying hair), but new strands become much finer than before. Some follicles stop producing new hair altogether. The net effect (thin, greyed hair) is what we equate with aging.

While losing our hair is inevitable, the condition can be accelerated by genetics and disease. Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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