Despite the fact that more than eighty million men and woman in America are currently experiencing some form of hair loss, many misconceptions still exist about how this medical condition actually works. At The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we believe that understanding the underlying causes of hair loss is the essential first step to treating it. So here are several of the most common myths about hair loss, along with explanations of the truth behind them.
Myth: Genes for hair loss come only from the mother’s side of the family.
For generations people believed that you could tell whether or not you were going to lose your hair simply by looking at the scalp of your mother’s father. However, today we understand that the causes of hair loss are a great deal more complicated. There are approximately 200 different genes that regulate hair growth, and genes from both sides of the family can play a role in its loss. Although the inheritance from the mother’s side is slightly stronger, androgenetic hair loss (or common pattern baldness) can be inherited from the mother’s side of the family, the father’s side, or both.
Myth: Genetic hair loss is an old man’s problem.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, genetic pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, affects more than 40% of women, causing them to experience significant thinning throughout their lifetimes. Although it occurs much more commonly as we age, hair loss frequently affects men and women in their 20’s and 30’s, and can even strike teenagers. The earlier hair loss begins, the more severe it will likely become.
Myth: Men who are bald have high levels of testosterone.
While this may be a comforting thing for men to believe, it is unfortunately not the case. Genetic pattern hair loss occurs when the hair follicles in some parts of the scalp have a greater than normal sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a byproduct of testosterone breakdown that causes the hair follicles to shrink and eventually disappear. Both men and women with this genetic sensitivity can eventually experience pattern hair loss even with low testosterone levels.
Myth: Frequent shampooing causes hair to fall out.
Healthy hair follicles are continually shedding old hairs and regrowing new ones, so that, on average, we lose approximately 50 to 100 hairs each day to the hair’s natural growth cycle. Most commonly, these hairs are shed when the scalp is rubbed vigorously, prompting many to think that shampooing causes hair loss. In fact, hereditary baldness is the result of shrinking hair follicles producing progressively finer, thinner hairs, not natural shedding. Failure to wash the hair regularly can leave dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on the scalp longer, actually accelerating the process of hair thinning. While excessive washing of hair that is already dry may result in breakage, washing the hair in and of itself does not cause hair loss. In one study where patients who shampooed daily were compared to those who shampooed only twice per week, the ones who lost the fewest number of hairs at the end of 4 weeks were the ones who shampooed daily.
If you have questions about caring for your hair or any of the treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation. Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ .