We brush it, cut it, curl it, straighten it, shave it, gel it, spike it, and dye it, but have we ever really stopped and thought about it? The hair found on our heads, and pretty much everywhere else on our bodies except our palms and soles, is incredibly complex. Not that that should surprise us—the more we look the more we realize everything about us is complex!
Our heads hold about 100,000 hairs, but that does vary according to the individual! If you count all the hairs found on our bodies, the number reaches about 5 million. There are as many hairs per square inch on your forehead as on the top of your head! These tiny hairs are called vellus hairs while the ones on the top of your head are called terminal hairs. So, next time you visit your doctor, tell him it’s serious! You’ve got terminal hair!
You’re born with every hair follicle you’ll ever have and, in most cases, that follicle will continue growing hairs your whole life. Even if you’re balding, you’re still producing hairs—you’ve just switched from growing terminal hairs to growing vellus hairs.
Hair follicles are tube-like depressions in your skin. Fragile living cells deep in the follicle will die to produce a tough fiber called hair. Hair grows about 3 tenths the thickness of a dime each day. This is a complicated process involving tens of thousands of little “buttons” that must unbutton and re-button to allow the hair to emerge in a controlled fashion. After a period of growth, the hair will stop growing for a specified period of time. A new hair starts growing under that hair and the old hair is shed. This process is especially important for animals. If their hair didn’t fall out, it would get filthy and tangled in trees, grass, or underbrush.
Hair isn’t very pretty when you look at it under a microscope. It appears to be covered with overlapping roof tiles. These “tiles,” called cuticle, are flattened dead cells. They keep the hair from knotting up every time it comes in contact with another hair. The cuticle also keeps the hair securely locked into the follicle until it’s time for that hair to be shed. Without this lock animals would lose their hair far too easily and would likely freeze to death. When it comes time to shed the hair, special enzymes start breaking down the cuticle allowing the hair to fall out.
How amazing it is to know that, according to the Bible, the same God who created the hairs on our head knows their ever-changing number. That’s how much He cares for each of us! As the Psalmist says, we’re Wonderfully Made!
I’m David Rives…Truly the heavens declare the glory of God.