If you’re worrying about the implications of hair loss, one of the first places people turn to is the internet. A quick Google search yields hundreds of pages of websites containing information about the different types of hair loss, so here’s some answers to some of the most commons myths and misconceptions.
We all know that many modern medicines are pre-dated by a plethora of herbal remedies and superstitious ‘facts’ about how best to cure them, so you’ll no doubt be relieved to know that the earliest ‘cure’ for hair loss has since been rendered nonsense. One of the founding fathers of medicine, Hippocrates, once believed that the cure for hair loss was a concoction of horseradish and pigeon droppings. Unsurprisingly, this is not the case.
It’s all in the (female?) genes
Another myth than is in common parlance is the link between hair loss and the female genetic chain. Although some types of hair loss are proven to be linked to your genetic makeup, the belief that this is only passed down through your mother’s side of the family is in fact not true. It used to be recommended that you look at how much hair your grandad (on your mum’s side) had, and this was a good indicator of whether or not you would be affected in later life. The truth is that pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) can actually be passed down through either side of the family tree.
It’s only a problem for men though, right?
Another myth is that only men suffer from hair loss, and the bad news is ladies, this is not the case either. The most common type of hair loss – pattern baldness – can affect both sexes, but visually it has different affects on the scalp. For men, this tends to manifest itself as a receding hair line or thinning (and eventually loss) of hair around the crown and temples. For women, this tends to start at the parting and can result in overall thinning/loss of hair on the top of the head. Unlike men, when this occurs in women, it is unlikely to result in total baldness, and can more frequency be effectively masked through styling.
Does washing your hair too frequently result in hair loss?
This is another old wives’ tale, shampooing does not affect the rate in which hair loss is occurring. It is more noticeable when you’re washing your hair, as the process of washing does remove hair that has become detached from the follicle, but shampooing itself is not the culprit. It is perfectly normal to lose up to 100 strands of hair per day – this is part of the natural life cycle of your hair. Regular shampooing will prevent follicles becoming clogged which can result in other issues, so keep up with your washing routine.
Medicinal side effects?
The contraceptive pill is commonly linked with hair loss. Although this won’t affect all women, it will affect those who already have a genetic pre-disposition to the condition. Androgenetic hair loss is linked to hormones called ‘androgens’, which are linked to the reproductive system. Some contraceptive pills contain a hormone called progesterone, which readily converts to androgen when it enters the body. It is true that if you are already sensitive to the effects of androgens then this will increased the likelihood of suffering from hair loss when taking a contraceptive such as this.
The important thing to remember is that there are many different causes of hair loss, and most of the myths relate to pattern baldness, as this is one of the most common causes. The first step to understanding and addressing hair loss is to get the root of what is causing it. Although genetics can be responsible, other factors such as hormones, diet, stress and styling can also be responsible, and the ability to cure or treat the condition varies depending on the trigger.