What are Vellus and Terminal Hairs?

What are Vellus and Terminal Hairs

What are Vellus and Terminal Hairs?  We hear those terms a lot and here’s our explanation of the two different types of hair – and more importantly, how they apply to your hair loss and hair loss treatment.

Vellus and Terminal Hairs

What are Vellus and Terminal Hairs?

There are two types of hairs (actually, there are three, but we’re not interested in the third, we’ll come to that later), vellus and terminal.  If you are considering Minoxidil as treatment for your Male Pattern Baldness, it might be worth understanding – and learning to recognise – the two different hair types, as you will probably be seeing them within a few weeks of Minoxidil treatment.

Put simply, vellus hairs are baby hairs and terminal hairs are grown-ups hairs.  The following image (from the website of the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine
Department of Dermatology & Skin Science) shows the difference very clearly.

What are Vellus and Terminal Hairs P01


As Male Pattern Baldness progresses, terminal hairs will slowly weaken and shrink, becoming vellus hairs.  If you’re suffering from MPB, you will probably have noticed the increasing number of smaller, thinner, colourless hairs (the ‘vellus’ hairs).  Sometimes

In order to understand the treatment process for male pattern hair loss, which sees thin, ‘wispy’ hairs regrown as thick, healthy looking hair, it’s important to know the difference between the two hair types.

Vellus Hair

Vellus hairs ore the tiny, usually very pale, hairs, most associated with children.  Peach fuzz, bum fluff, all those words describe vellus hairs. The word vellus comes from the Latin, meaning fleece or wool, and work to cool or heat up the body, regulating body temperature. Length-wise, vellus hairs tend to be slightly shorter than half a centimeter.

Terminal Hair

These are the grown ups.  Thicker, stronger, generally darker, they are hair in the sense you’re probably familiar with.  Terminal hairs are thick, long, darker hair, or what we would usually count as ‘scalp hair’. In men with male pattern baldness, a medically proven hair loss treatment plan is required in order to have a chance of regrowing terminal hair when it has ceased to grow naturally on account of the hormone DHT.

Once the process of pattern hair loss begins in those with an inherited predisposition, treatment is essential to prevent hair atop the scalp becoming progressively thinner as less and less terminal hair is grown, leading to the ‘peach fuzz’ effect. Hair then becomes thinner and thinner, until eventually no more hair is grown. At this point the hair loss becomes medically untreatable.

So, if you’re noticing that more and more of your hair is growing as the vellus type, it’s likely that you’re experiencing male pattern hair loss. Four in seven of us inherit the predisposition for pattern balding, and it can begin at any point after puberty. A combined hair loss treatment plan that contains the two medications licensed or approved by the UK and US medical regulatory bodies, the MHRA and the FDA respectively, can halt hair loss and regrow terminal hair where it has ceased to grow, providing there is still some manner of hair growth on the area you wish to treat.

Minoxidil for Hair Loss