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Home-Articles-The pilosebaceous follicle

The pilosebaceous follicle

Le follicule pilo-sébacé
The pilosebaceous follicle (or hair follicle) is a small cavity in the epidermis in which the hair (bristle) originates. Here is a brief overview of its structure, some of its characteristics as well as its role in the life of the hair.


The pilosebaceous follicle can be seen as a small pocket of epidermis which extends downward to the hypodermis, with a bulge at its base (hair bulb). It is made up of various well-differentiated elements including: the matrix, the hair shaft, the connective tissue sheath, the dermal papilla, the sebaceous gland. The pilosebaceous follicle has a particularly complex structure in the form of compartments surrounding a common center.

Each hair follicle is surrounded by small nervous nets, allowing it to transmit very slight sensations. It is also connected to a small muscle, called arrector pili muscle or erector of the hair, which can cause "goosebumps" or "the hair that stand on end".


In humans, the largest part of the skin contains hair follicles except the palms (of hands), foot soles and certain parts of the genitals. The hair follicles appear in the third month of embryonic life.

The pilosebaceous follicle is the only organ of the human body which can renew itself, that is to say, to die and to be reborn, and this, in complete autonomy, according to a regular cycle but at different times from one follicle to another. This explains why the hair will one day change color and whiten, since the regeneration of the follicular structure affects all compartments, including the one that gives color to the hair (the pigmentary one).

Another characteristic of the pilosebaceous follicle is its shape which can print a curvature in the human hair. Thus, a curly hair will grow in a follicle itself curved at the hair bulb.

Role in the life of the hair

The development of the hair (bristle) is carried out in the follicle by the association of the cells of keratin produced (keratinization process). It is at the level of the papilla, the part of the hair bulb nourishing the follicle, that the hair takes root. The upper part of the hair follicle includes the sebaceous gland which allows the lubrication of the hair for life.

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