In the United States alone, approximately 35 million men and 21 million women are affected by hair loss. Generally speaking, male pattern baldness can be expected to occur in 40% of men by the time they are aged 40. However, despite the common occurrence of hair loss among the populace, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions that defy logic and basic science.
We’ve listed the top five hair loss myths we encounter on a daily basis, in hopes of shedding light and halting their further dissemination.
Myth 1: Baldness comes from the mother’s side.
While the main cause of hair loss in both men and women is genetic, a condition known as androgenetic alopecia, it is not a hereditary trait confined to either parent. If your mother or father’s family has a history of baldness, you can inherit the gene and experience male pattern baldness or female hair loss.
Myth 2: Wearing hats can cause balding.
Contrary to popular belief the normal wearing of hats does not cause hair loss. You would need to wear your hat so tightly that circulation to the hair follicles was cut off. Typical day to day wearing of hats will not cause hair loss.
Myth 3: Blow drying, frequent hair washing and use of styling products can cause the loss of hair.
While excessive blow drying and washing can damage the quality of your hair turning it dry or brittle, normal use does not cause hair loss. Similarly, the use of hair coloring and styling products, when used as directed have no effect other than those intended.
Myth 4: Cutting/shaving your hair will make it grow back thicker.
Your hair follicle is thicker at the base of the shaft than at the tip, so while cutting or shaving may make your hair appear thicker by contrast initially, as it continues to grow it will maintain the same thickness as prior to cutting.
Myth 5: Brushing your hair is better than combing it and is good for follicle stimulation.
While the general consensus is that combing as opposed to brushing reduces the occurrence of hair breakage and split ends, neither action will induce growth or for that matter hair loss.
All hair follicles go through a normal cycle of hair growth and hair loss. There are three main phases of the hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
During the anagen phase hair fibers are actively produced from the dermal papilla, a highly active group of pear-shaped cells within the follicle. The longest of the three phases, anagen lasts anywhere between 6 to 10 years, with an average growth rate of 1/2 inch per month.
During the catagen phase, which is estimated to last approximately 14 to 21 days, hair growth enters a period of regression; the dermal papilla condense as the cells become inactive. With a lack of cell stimulation, the hair fiber and root sheaths stop growing.
Lastly, the follicle enters a period of rest for anywhere between 30 to 90 days. In telogen the dermal papilla can become isolated and the hair fiber can be easily pulled out from everyday activities such as combing, shampooing, or brushing. At any given time, approximately 10% of hair follicles on the scalp are in telogen, which means each day an average of 50 to 100 hairs are pulled out.
While this cycle of hair production typically continues for the duration of the individual’s life, as explained earlier, there are follicles with a genetic disposition to permanent hair loss. Other factors that may effect hair growth include: adverse reactions to drugs or medical treatments, hormones, as well as immune system abnormalities.