International Journal of Trichology International Journal of Trichology
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1  

The hair: Melanocyte nexus

President, The Hair Research Society of India, No. 10, Ritherdon Avenue, Vepery, Chennai - 600 007, India

Date of Web Publication6-Jul-2013

Correspondence Address:
Patrick Yesudian
President, The Hair Research Society of India, No. 10, Ritherdon Avenue, Vepery, Chennai - 600 007
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-7753.114692

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How to cite this article:
Yesudian P. The hair: Melanocyte nexus. Int J Trichol 2013;5:1

How to cite this URL:
Yesudian P. The hair: Melanocyte nexus. Int J Trichol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Mar 24];5:1. Available from: https://www.ijtrichology.com/text.asp?2013/5/1/1/114692

If a dermatologist can give color where it is wanted and take away the color where it is not wanted, give hairs where they are wanted and take away hairs from unwanted places, he would surely qualify for the Nobel Prize! This goes to show the importance of the melanocyte and hair follicle in human beings. The former, from its origin from the neural crest as a melanoblast, goes on a veritable odyssey to reach the epidermis and the hair follicle during embryonic development and in the hair follicle plays a dynamic role throughout the hair cycle.

Melanocytes are present in both the bulge area and the hair matrix of the hair bulb. Melanin is synthesized in these places and transferred to the keratinocytes whose keratin eventually condenses into the elongating hair shaft. The melanocytes present in the infundibulum of the hair follicle resemble those in the epidermis. The melanocytes present in the sebaceous glands and in the outer root sheath are non-pigmented. Some melanocytes present in the follicular bulge area may possess properties which permit regeneration of a functional pigmentary unit with the onset of each new follicular hair cycle. It could be that there are melanocyte stem cells and that they share a common microenvironment or niche with the keratinocyte stem cells.

These findings would explain why repigmentation in vitiligo patients occurs from follicular orifices. The gradual decline in these stem cells would account for the age-related graying of hairs.

All the present laser hair removal modalities do not achieve a permanent or irreversible hair loss but only long-term effects. Future permanent and persistent laser removal of hairs could be counterproductive since it would destroy the melanocyte stem cells and cause vitiligo or vitiligo-like changes. Patients who grumble about regrowth after laser epilation could be told about this depigmentation if permanent hair removal is attempted and so the present protocols are safer.


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