Clogged hair follicles is not a phrase we hear on a regular basis, yet millions of people experience this condition without even realizing it. Just like clogged pores, which can lead to acne, clogged hair follicles happen when the little tube-like follicle that houses the root of your hair becomes clogged.
What Causes Clogged Hair Follicles?
Hair follicles can become clogged for a number of reasons but it all boils down to one thing: sebum. We’ve discussed excess sebum hair loss before on the Nourish Beaute blog, but today, we are going to go a lot more in-depth in a two-part series.
Sebum is a natural and important part of hair growth. It is a naturally-secreted oil that helps to nourish the hair shaft and keep it soft and shiny. Without sebum, your hair would be brittle and break off easily. Some people have higher levels of sebum production than others which are typically characterized by having “greasy” hair at the end of the day. But too much sebum, especially when combined with dirt or shed skin cells, can create a plug inside the hair follicle. This acts like a cork in a bottle that does not allow the hair to grow properly.
Another major contributing factor of clogged hair follicles is using harsh chemicals and shampoos on your hair. Whether you’re loading your hair up with hairspray and dry shampoo or simply using a “clarifying shampoo” (a very harsh type of shampoo designed to get rid of this buildup), you may be unintentionally making the problem worse.
Side Effects Of Clogged Hair Follicles
Clogged hair follicles can cause hair loss and thinning because your hair cannot break through the clog. What usually starts with minimal thinning can result in serious hair fall-out if the problem is not addressed. Other than hair loss, clogged hair follicles can cause itching, redness, dandruff, and other irritating scalp conditions. However, in some cases, clogged follicles can cause a much more serious problem called folliculitis, which we will discuss in the next section.
When Clogged Becomes Infected
Once hair follicles become clogged, they may become infected. You most likely have seen infected hair follicles in the form of razor burn or shaving bumps. But don’t think these pesky little infections can only happen where you shave! Anywhere you grow hair is susceptible to folliculitis, the infection of a hair follicle. Let’s be real. Most of us have experienced an awkward, random, and painful pimple on our butt or thighs. More likely than not, that was actually an infected hair follicle, as folliculitis often looks and feels like a painful pimple and most often shows up on your bottom, thighs, neck, and armpits. However, it can also occur on your scalp and when it does, the result is sore, pimple-like bumps that make everything from brushing your hair to shampooing it a pain.