Variations of hair follicle size and distribution in different body sites

J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Jan;122(1):14-9. doi: 10.1046/j.0022-202X.2003.22110.x.


For the evaluation and quantification of follicular penetration processes, the knowledge of variations of hair follicle parameters in different body sites is basic. Characteristics of follicle sizes and potential follicular reservoir were determined in cyanoacrylate skin surface biopsies, taken from seven different skin areas (lateral forehead, back, thorax, upper arm, forearm, thigh, and calf region). The highest hair follicle density and percentage of follicular orifices on the skin surface and infundibular surface were found on the forehead, whereas the highest average size of the follicular orifices was measured in the calf region. The highest infundibular volume and therefore a potential follicular reservoir was calculated for the forehead and for the calf region, although the calf region showed the lowest hair follicle density. The calculated follicular volume of these two skin areas was as high as the estimated reservoir of the stratum corneum. The lowest values for every other parameter were found on the forearm. The present investigation clearly contradicts former hypothesis that the amount of appendages of the total skin surface represents not more than 0.1%. Every body region disposes its own hair follicle characteristics, which, in the future, should lead us to a differential evaluation of skin penetration processes and a completely different understanding of penetration of topically applied drugs and cosmetics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Body Surface Area*
  • Cyanoacrylates
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*


  • Cyanoacrylates