What Do Dead Hair Follicles Look Like? Signs and Identification

Sourav Gupta
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Hair follicles

Hair health is a crucial aspect of overall appearance and confidence for both men and women. 

However, various factors can contribute to hair problems, including hair follicle death. 

Dead hair follicles can significantly impact hair growth, leading to thinning and hair loss.

In this article, we will explore what do dead hair follicles look like, discuss the signs of hair follicle death, and provide insights on identifying if your hair follicles are dead.

Understanding hair follicles

Before delving into the appearance of dead hair follicles, it is essential to understand the role they play in hair growth. 

Hair follicles are tiny structures located beneath the scalp’s surface that produce hair. 

Each follicle cycle goes through three phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting phase). 

When hair follicles become inactive or die, it disrupts the growth cycle, leading to hair thinning and eventual loss.

In the catagen phase, hair stops growing and detaches from the follicle. The follicle becomes shorter as the hair bulb breaks down. This phase only affects about 1% of follicles.

What do dead hair follicles look like

Identifying dead hair follicles can be challenging, as they are not visible to the naked eye. 

Unlike other hair and scalp conditions, dead hair follicles do not present any distinct physical characteristics that can be readily observed. 

Instead, detecting hair follicle death involves observing the accompanying signs and symptoms.

Signs of dead hair follicles

There are various signs and symptoms you can look for while diagnosing dead hair follicles.

Following are a few patterns that you can look for:

Decreased hair density

Loss of hairSource: Andranik Hakobyan from Getty Images
Reduction in hair density

One of the early signs of hair follicle death is a reduction in hair density. 

As the follicles die or become inactive, the hair strands they produce become thinner and weaker. 

This decreases hair volume and thickness, making the scalp appear less covered with hair.

Excessive hair shedding

Dead hair follicles contribute to excessive hair shedding. 

When hair follicles die, the hair strands they once supported weaken and eventually fall out. 

As a result, individuals may notice increased hair shedding during brushing, showering, or even by simply running their fingers through their hair.

If you see many hair strands on your hand when you pull your hair, consult a doctor. As you may soon get bald if not treated.

Lack of new hair growth

Another prominent sign of dead hair follicles is the absence of new hair growth

In a healthy hair growth cycle, old hairs shed, and new ones replace them. 

However, no new hair emerges from the affected areas when follicles are dead, leading to visible thinning patches or bald spots.

How do I know if my hair follicles are dead

If you suspect that your hair follicles might be dead or inactive, there are several methods to diagnose the condition of your scalp and hair:

Pull test

A pull test involves gently tugging on a small section of hair to assess its strength and potential hair loss. 

If multiple hairs are easily uprooted, it could indicate weakened hair follicles or hair in the telogen phase, which may be associated with dead hair follicles.

Scalp examination

Consult a dermatologistSource: ViktoriiaNovokhatska_from_Getty_Images
Consulting a dermatologist

Consulting a hair specialist for a thorough scalp examination is essential to determine the health of your hair follicles. 

They will use specialized tools to magnify the scalp and check for signs of hair follicle death, such as miniaturizing hair shafts and empty follicle openings.


Trichoscopy is a non-invasive technique that allows for a close examination of hair and scalp. 

It helps identify various hair and scalp conditions, including dead hair follicles. 

During trichoscopy, a handheld device with magnification capabilities is used to evaluate the scalp’s health and the state of hair follicles.

Treatment options for dead hair follicles

Various treatment options are available, some of which help stimulate the follicles.

Others can help stimulate faster hair growth.


Minoxidil is a popular topical medicine that can help your hair grow back when used regularly. 

However, it’s essential to know that the new hair growth will only continue if you use the medication.

Sometimes, doctors use low-level laser therapy and Minoxidil to improve scalp blood flow. 

This increase in blood flow brings oxygen and various nutrients to the hair follicles, which can help them grow better.

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DHT blockers

Hair loss often happens when the body has too much Testosterone. 

This excess Testosterone combines with an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase to create Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

DHT affects the hair follicles and leads to Male-pattern baldness.

Male-pattern baldness, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is a common hair loss condition in men. 

It shows a receding hairline and thinning hair on the crown due to genetic and hormonal factors.

Finasteride can help stop the conversion of Testosterone into DHT. By doing this, Finasteride can prevent hair follicles from shrinking.

Finasteride can increase the number of hairs on the scalp and make the hair look better, especially for Male-pattern baldness.


Microneedling uses tiny needles to create small wounds on the scalp, which improves blood circulation. 

This process stimulates the production of collagen and new skin cells for healing, leading to increased hair growth.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the healing power of blood platelets to help with hair loss and promote hair growth.

During the procedure, a small amount of the patient’s blood is taken, and the plasma, rich in growth nutrients and factors, is separated. 

The plasma is then injected into the scalp to support the function of hair follicles and encourage hair growth.

Hair transplant

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure where healthy hair follicles from one part of the body are moved to areas with thinning or no hair. 

This helps restore natural hair growth and improve the hair’s appearance.


Hair health is essential for good confidence and appearance. 

Dead hair follicles can lead to hair loss, but they are not visible to the naked eye. 

Signs of dead follicles include decreased density, excessive shedding, and no new hair growth. 

Minoxidil, Finasteride, microneedling, and platelet-rich plasma therapy can help stimulate hair growth. 

In severe cases, hair transplant surgery can restore natural hair growth and improve the overall look. 

Early intervention and proper care are crucial for healthy hair, so consult your doctor when you realize you are losing your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my follicles are dead?

If your follicles are dead, you may notice decreased hair density, excessive shedding, and no new hair growth in affected areas. A scalp examination by a hair specialist can confirm the condition.

Can dead hair follicles be restored?

No, dead hair follicles cannot be restored. Once a hair follicle is completely dead and inactive, reviving it is impossible. However, there are treatments available to stimulate hair growth in areas with dormant or weakened follicles, but they cannot bring back completely dead follicles.

What do pulled-out hair follicles look like?

When a hair follicle is pulled out, it may look like a small bulb at the end of the hair strand. This bulb is the hair follicle root sheath, containing the hair’s growth center. The appearance may vary based on the growth cycle and removal method.

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