For every true hair loss story, there are more than a handful of myths.
We’ve selected some of our favourites. See what you think.
“I should look at my mother’s family to see if I am going to lose my hair – the gene comes from the maternal side.”
Hereditary hair loss can be passed on by either parent, although the strongest influence is on the maternal side. The gene or genes responsible for this have not yet been identified and the pattern of inheritance is complex. If hair loss runs in the family, it is likely that you too will be affected. However there are other reasons for hair loss apart from heredity.
“If you wash your hair too often you will go bald.”
Frequent shampooing has no effect, positive or negative, on hereditary hair loss. But it is important to take good care of the hair you have.
“If I take special dietary supplements I can prevent hair loss.”
In most cases, hair loss is due to your genes and the way that your hair follicles respond to male hormones. Severe malnutrition can bring on hair loss but this is unrelated to hereditary hair loss. However, a poor diet can bring on predetermined hereditary hair loss earlier than expected.
“If I colour my hair it will fall out faster.”
Many hair treatments, such as bleaching and colouring, can be hard on your hair. If the treatments are too strong, they may cause the hair to break off near the scalp, but no treatments will cause hereditary hair loss.
“Losing an average of 40-100 hairs a day is normal – they just grow back again.”
This is true for people who don’t have male pattern baldness, and the hairs that fall out will soon be replaced by new ones. If you’re suffering from hereditary hair loss, those hairs often come from follicles that are shrinking and the new hairs emerging from these follicles will be thinner. Eventually the follicles shut down and no longer produce any hairs at all.
“I can increase the number of follicles on my scalp by using drugs.”
No. The number of hair follicles you have is completely out of your control – it’s hereditary. There is currently no drug on the market that will alter the quantity of hair follicles on your head.
“Cutting or shaving my hair will make it grow back thicker and faster.”
No. Hair grows at an average rate of half an inch per month. Each hair shaft is slightly thicker at its base compared to its tip, so hair can appear thicker for about a week after it has been cut. However, cutting hair has absolutely no effect on each hair’s thickness or the number of hairs that will sprout from the follicles.
“Blow-drying can cause hair loss.”
No. But it can dry, burn and damage hairs that may then fall out. If you’re suffering from hereditary hair loss, the new hairs that grow are often thinner and less visible than the ones they are replacing.
“Bald men are sexier.”
There is little evidence of excess levels of testosterone or related hormones in bald men. The belief that baldness makes you more virile than a man with a full head of hair is, unfortunately, without scientific foundation.
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