With all of the genetic, hormonal, and environmental aspects of baldness, pinpointing a specific cause of hair loss is hard to determine. The most common form of hair loss for both men and women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness. It is estimated that over 95 percent of men suffering from hair loss are affected by male pattern baldness. Although many people associate hair loss only with men, around 40 percent of people suffering from hair loss in the United States are women. Before we get into some of the myths surrounding hair loss, we do, in fact, lose 50 to 100 hair follicles a day, but with over 100,000 strands of hairs on the average person’s scalp, that amount of hair loss tends to go unnoticed. Here are five common myths that a majority of hair loss sufferers attribute their baldness to:
1. Wearing A Hat Will Cause Hair Loss
Unless you’re wearing a hat so tight that it cuts off circulation to hair follicles, you can wear hats as often as you like without experiencing hair loss. Traction alopecia, a condition caused by damage to hair follicles and dermal papilla that is the result of constant pulling or tension, is what most people associate hair loss due to wearing a hat with. While wearing a hat may not result in traction alopecia, braids, tight buns, and other hairstyle that cause the hairline to recede may result in gradual baldness. This is why many hair restoration experts warn African-American men and women against tightly braiding their hair.
"This is a common misconception and worry for many men who have worn hats over a long period of time," Anderson Hair Sciences Center Founder, Director, and Chief of Surgery Dr. Ken Anderson told Medical Daily. "The truth is that typical hair loss, for example, male pattern baldness, is caused by a sensitivity to naturally occurring hormones in a patient’s body, not from wearing hats. Typical hair loss is genetic in origin, meaning a person inherits the hair loss from both mother and father, and it is usually something that is not caused by external factors. Hats that hold a fair amount of sweat and dirt, however, could possibly result in a scalp infection, which in turn can cause hair loss, but this is unusual."
2. Hair Loss Is Passed Down From Your Mother’s Side
Genetics do play a major role in hair loss. However, you are just as likely to share the baldness trait with someone from your father’s side of the family as much as your mother’s side. Prior research has suggested that the so-called “hair loss gene” is passed down via the X chromosome we receive from our mother. More recent studies have identified a number of “hair loss genes” that are located on both the X and Y chromosomes. Simply meaning, there are a variety of genetic factors that can influence hair loss, not just a single gene found on the X chromosome.
"Hair loss is not limited to the maternal side of the family. The hair loss gene can come from either parent. The gene that primary causes baldness is on the X chromosome, which men get only from their mothers, but there are other contributing factors. While the hereditary factor is slightly more dominant on the woman's side, research suggests that men who have a bald father are more likely to develop male pattern baldness than those who don't."
3. Hair Loss Is Irreversible
Above all other causes of gradual hair loss, hormonal changes are considered to be the main culprit among hair restoration experts. An extension of the male hormone testosterone known as Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) has come up in the majority of recent studies investigating direct causes of hair loss. While testosterone is considered the male hormone, it does show up scarcely among some women. Research shows that women with larger amounts of testosterone are more likely to suffer from hair loss. The hormonal change of testosterone to DHT can have a devastating effect on hair follicles. Thanks to hair loss treatments like Propecia and Rogaine that effectively reduce levels of hair follicle shrinking hormones, the progression of hair loss can be prevented and in some cases even reversed.
4. Only Old People Experience Hair Loss
Yes, hair does tend to thin out with age, but hair thinning related to male or female pattern baldness can begin as early as puberty. Around three percent of all pediatric office visits in the U.S. are attributed child’s hair loss. Male pattern baldness can affect men as early as their teens or early 20s. Unfortunately for people who begin to experience hair loss at a young age, baldness tends to be harder to treat as they get older.
"Hair loss can begin as early the teenage years for men, and the 20s for women. In such cases, it is important to be seen by a hair restoration specialist to rule out other atypical causes of hair loss, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, one of the most common hormonal disorders among females," Anderson told Medical Daily.
5. Stress Causes Hair Loss
This hair loss myth is a little bit harder to crack. Although research does show that physical and emotional trauma including sudden weight gain, certain medical conditions, or a death in the family can result in hair loss, in most cases it was hair the person was bound to lose in the first place. Stress doesn’t necessarily cause us to lose hair we were meant to keep, but instead speeds up the process of our genetic predisposition. It does this by depleting our levels of B12, the vitamin responsible for delivering blood, oxygen, and nutrients to our body’s tissue.
"Stress can cause hair loss, but it’s not the typical stresses of everyday life that many experience: a difficult boss, a stressful job, or financial insecurity," Anderson said. "Stress-related hair loss tends to be associated with very emotionally powerful events, such as the loss of a loved one. It is the type of event that causes a person to lose sleep, or changes a person’s appetite and significantly raise the level of stress hormones."