There’s a lot of myths behind hair loss. Most often, hair loss in men occurs due to male-pattern baldness, or a condition called androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Almost all men will experience some degree of hair loss during their lifetimes. Due to genetic predisposition and other factors, by age 50 about 85 percent of men will experience noticeable thinning of their hair. The actual reasons for hair loss are variable, but there are many myths linked to the problem.
Reasons for Hair Loss
Before we talk about some of the myths, let’s dive into the real reasons for hair loss. Hair loss is primarily linked to genetic, biochemical, and chronobiological factors, but the main culprit behind AGA is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. It is metabolized from testosterone in genetically predisposed individuals, the result is pattern hair loss. This genetic susceptibility causes scalp hair follicles to shrink, leading in males to clinically relevant hair thinning on the crown of the head (commonly a bald spot) as well as a receding hairline. Females typically do not experience a receding hairline but rather, generalized thinning throughout their scalp.
Hair Loss Myths
If you’ve begun to experience pattern hair loss, there’s a good chance someone uninformed has improperly explained the situation to you. Whether you are just starting to lose hair, or you’ve gone completely bald, it’s not something you’ve had control over. Let’s debunk some of the myths behind hair loss.
- It’s InevitableWhile it’s true that the main cause of hair loss is due to genetic linkage, many people believe that if your father was bald you’re destined to go bald as well. In fact, the genes for hair loss are passed down from both your mother and father, so there’s about an equal chance to follow either side of the family in this regard. Don’t worry about how mom’s great-grandpa looked as he aged; your pattern of growth – or loss – will likely bear no close relationship to his.
- Hats Cause Hair Loss Many people think that wearing hats too often causes men to lose hair. They believe that the hair needs to be exposed to oxygen to derive nutrients, but that’s not true. Any nutrients a hair follicle needs to grow properly come from the bloodstream, not the air. The reason many people associate hats with hair loss is that people experiencing hair loss often use hats. In point of fact, hair loss causes many folks to wear hats, not the other way around! Keep wearing your hat- it won’t affect hair loss in any way.
- Only Old People Go Bald When there’s a genetic history of pattern hair loss, men can start to notice their hair thinning as soon as their early twenties. Most men experience some degree of hair thinning or loss in middle age, but it’s not uncommon for males to start losing hair earlier. A good rule of thumb is ‘the sooner your hair loss begins the more significant it is likely to be’.
- Women Don’t Experience Hair Loss While it’s more common for men to experience hair loss in their twenties and thirties, the fact is by age 50 most women notice some degree of hair loss. The top of the head and hairline are generally affected in males, whereas females experience hair loss throughout their entire scalp.
- Bald Men Have More or Less Testosterone There is a common misperception that bald men have more or less testosterone than their unaffected counterparts. While hair loss isn’t linked to the amount of testosterone hormone, it is linked to DHT which is derived from testosterone. In this instance, the sensitivity of susceptible hair follicles to DHT is the main culprit.
- Shampooing and Washing Too Frequently Causes Balding While this sounds somewhat credible in theory, it really has no scientific backing. Unless you’re vigorously scrubbing your scalp with way too much shampoo multiple times a day, it’s unlikely that you are experiencing hair loss due to your shampooing and washing habits. Some people notice hair falling out while they shower, but this is hair that was programmed to fall out anyway, not due to anything you’ve done. The hair follicles’ cycle is based upon periods of resting as well as growth.
- Getting Hair Cuts Can Stimulate Growth and Thickness While this has always been touted, getting your haircut doesn’t make your hair grow thicker and fuller since the follicles, buried several millimeters below the surface aren’t affected at all when the hair is cut. Getting your haircut can be a good way to boost self-esteem, but it doesn’t help stimulate growth and thickness.
- All Hair Loss is Permanent Not every type of hair loss is permanent. For instance, the disorder alopecia areata is notorious for bald spots appearing and then filling in. In fact, many causes of hair loss, including AGA, can be helped by a professional, but they have to diagnose the cause of the hair loss first. Medical professionals in the field are trained to differentially diagnose the cause of hair loss in order to determine the best possible treatment plan.
Consult a Medical Expert
If you’ve been experiencing hair loss, don’t despair. There are medical professionals that spend their lives helping men and women that are suffering from the problem. Whether this is a new issue or you’ve been dealing with it for many years, the first step is to seek out and make an appointment with a medical hair loss specialist. Your care provider can go over your health history, genetic susceptibility, and other key factors in order to come up with an individualized treatment plan. Don’t hesitate to work with someone that can help you live your best life!