© 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Much like an individual's hairstyle, hair fibers along the scalp see a number of changes over the course of one's lifetime. As the decades pass, the shine and volume synonymous with youthful hair may give way to thin, dull, and brittle hair commonly associated with aging. These changes are a result of a compilation of genetic and environmental elements influencing the cells of the hair follicle, specifically the hair follicle stem cells and melanocytes. Telomere shortening, decrease in cell numbers, and particular transcription factors have all been implicated in this process. In turn, these molecular alterations lead to structural modifications of the hair fiber, decrease in melanin production, and lengthening of the telogen phase of the hair cycle. Despite this inevitable progression with aging, there exists an array of treatments such as light therapy, minoxidil, and finasteride which have been designed to mitigate the effects of aging, particularly balding and thinning hair. Although each works through a different mechanism, all aim to maintain or potentially restore the youthful quality of hair.