Myths Surrounding Hair Loss and Its Treatments

Health Writer

Despite the high numbers of people - both male and female - who experience hair loss during their life, there are many myths surrounding hair loss and available treatments.

Myth: Hair loss only affects males.

Facts: It is true that more men experience hair loss than women, but the difference isn't as high as you would expect. According to the American Hair Loss Association about two-thirds of men will experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 35 and around 85 percent of men will do so by the age of 50. About one-half of women experience some degree of hair loss by the time they reach the age of 50 according to the North American Hair Research Society.

Myth: You can guess whether you will go bald based on your mother's father.

Facts: The myth that hair loss is genetically based from your maternal grandfather has existed for a long time. The reality is that hair loss is considered polygenetic, which means that the genes that control hair loss are from a number of genes, inherited from immediate and extended relatives. It is not inherited from one specific section of your family line.

Myth: Wearing a hat causes baldness.

Facts: Wearing a hat does not cause your hair to fall out. This myth is based on the idea that wearing a hat cuts off circulation to the head but the reality is that baldness is usually a result of genetics and is not caused by wearing hats.

Myth: Cutting your hair frequently will help it to grow back thicker.

Facts: Your hair grows from your scalp, cutting the ends of your hair will not affect the growth at all. This myth seems to be the result of a misconception because hair that has frayed ends and is not properly cared for can break, causing it to look thinner. Keeping it trimmed helps you avoid breakage and makes your hair look thicker.

Myth: An overuse of hair products makes your hair fall out.

Facts: This might be true, depending on the products you are using. Those that can inflame, infect or damage your hair follicles might cause thinning of your hair. But, much like cutting your hair, many hair products (hair spray, hair gels, curling irons) are used on the outside of your hair, not at the roots and might cause your hair to break and thin but they won't cause hair loss.

Myth: Treatments like minoxidil or Propecia prevent hair loss.

Facts: These types of treatments can help slow the process of hair loss but they don't prevent it or stop it completely. Propecia, which is a bill, helps reduce the level of an hormone that shrinks your hair follicles. Minoxidil is a topical treatment that must be applied twice a day. Both slow hair loss but also have side effects.

Myth: Men with high libidos don't lose their hair.

Facts: Testosterone plays a role in hair loss but not in the way you might think. Testosterone in the body produces a hormone called DHT, which is responsible for shrinking hair follicles. However, it isn't the amount of testosterone that causes it, it is whether or not your hair follicles are sensitive to DHT that cause hair loss.

Myth: Hair replacement  surgery doesn't work.

Facts: Hair transplants are permanent solutions to hair loss. This process involves moving some hair to other parts of the scalp. Many people are very happy with the results of hair replacement therapy, however, it is very costly.

For more information:

The Link Between Hair and Health: A HealthCentral Explainer

Going Bald: Myths vs. Facts

Male Pattern Baldness May Be Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer

References:

Hair Loss: American Academy of Dermatology

Hair Loss: National Institutes of Health