mhn news & blog

April 05, 2012

Six Common Misconceptions About Hair Loss

1. Wearing a hat can cause hair loss. It is not hats that cause hair loss; it’s the person wearing a hat that can possibly cause hair loss in two ways. First, wearing a hat so tight it constricts blood flow to the hair follicles might cause some shedding. Second, wearing a hat for an extended time in hot, humid weather can lead to sebum plugs. Heat and humidity bring sebum, our skin’s built-in lubricant, to the surface. If the sebum has time to react with cholesterol it forms a plug that can asphyxiate our follicles.

2. It is normal to shed about 100 strands of hair each day. Each of us is born have 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles. At any given time, 90% of those follicles are in a growth cycle that lasts five years. It is during the sixth year that a hair strand sheds, and the follicle begins another growth cycle. It was thought that people lost around 700 strands of hair per week, but scientists did the math and now that number is considered too high. It’s likely we shed 20 to 50 strands in one day. Losing more than that could indicate an early stage of hair loss.

3. Cutting hair makes it grow thicker. Each strand of hair is thicker at the scalp than at its tip. When you get a haircut, it may appear that your hair has thickened because the tapered ends have been cut off. It is a pleasant optical illusion of sorts. A good stylist can create this illusion also by making the most of your hair type.

4. Daily washing and blow drying can trigger hair loss. This is not true; however, frequent exposure to intense heat does damage hair. Heat damaged hair is usually brittle and strands easily break off. It may look as if you are shedding hair. Excessive heat can damage hair follicles as well, possibly causing hair loss. Very aggressive pulling or over processing might lead to a type of hair loss named traction alopecia.

5. It is possible to increase the amount of hair I have. Not true. This is a common misconception with those considering a hair transplant. A hair transplant procedure is in reality a hair transfer. Healthy strands of hair are harvested from the donor site and transplanted (or transferred) to the area of hair loss. Otherwise, the number of follicles you were born with is the number you’re stuck with. Drugs, herbs, vitamins, good nutrition or treatment may make your hair look healthier and thicker but the population of your strands will remain the same.

6. You have your mother’s side of the family to thank for your hair loss. Not so fast. If you are genetically wired for hair loss, it could come from either side of the family. You came into the world with two copies of genetic information that determined whether your hair will go or stay derived from each parent. If one of those copies is labeled “hair loss” and the other is labeled “hair for life,” the hair loss gene will win out because hair loss is the dominant trait. Either your father or mother could hand you the dominant hair loss gene. If your father carries two copies of the “hair loss” gene and your mother holds one labeled “hair loss” and the other “hair for life,” your chance of inherited hair loss is 100%. If your father has one copy each of the “hair loss” and “hair for life” gene, and your mother has two genetic copies of “hair for life,” your chance of inherited hair loss is 50%.

Like most things concerning family, it gets complicated.