Baldness has been the source of more old wives’ tales than most medical conditions. Here, we take a closer look at some classic baldness myths and try and find the truth behind them:
‘Baldness comes from your mum’
The myth: It’s said that baldness is inherited from your mother’s dad. So, if your maternal grandfather is bald then you’re going to go bald as well.
The truth: There is some truth in this. Researchers from the Skin Clinic of Düsseldorf University found that the gene for the androgen receptor was a marker that men would go bald. This gene is passed on through the X chromosome – the one you receive from your mother. However, the researchers did point out that this gene was not the only factor in inherited baldness, so you could still inherit it from your father.
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‘There is no cure for baldness’
The myth: Despite all the stories in the media, there is no magic cream that you can apply to your head to cure baldness and make your hair grow back.
The truth: It’s both true and false. While there is no magical cure, there are treatments that can help with certain types of baldness. These include Propecia and its generic form Finasteride, which can prevent hair loss and promote regrowth for men with mild to moderate hair loss. They work by blocking the action of a hormone that affects hair growth in men.
‘Stress causes baldness’
The myth: Whether you’re pulling your hair out with stress or it’s simply falling out because you’ve got too much on your plate, stress and hair loss have been linked for some time.
The truth: As our article on stress and hair loss explains, stress does not cause male pattern baldness, but it has been connected with alopecia, a general term referring to short term baldness.
‘Hair products can cause baldness’
The myth: Whether you’re trying to hide your grey spots with hair dye or are a big fan of big hair, the use of various shampoos, dyes and gels have often been cited as a cause of baldness.
The truth: This depends very much on the product, how you use it and how often you use it. Products with bleach in can cause hair to weaken and break, as can improper use of other dyes, colourants or gels. However, these tend to make already weak hair break. If you’re suffering male pattern baldness, giving up these products won’t cure it.
‘Massaging the scalp stimulates hair growth’
The myth: Hair grows from the follicles, which work better if they have a stronger supply of blood. Massaging the scalp stimulates the blood flow to the follicles.
The truth: There is some truth to this; however it is more likely to strengthen existing hairs than to create new ones. It also only works against temporary hair thinning. If you’re suffering from a medical condition or have male pattern baldness, massaging is not a long term solution.
‘Hats cause hair loss’
The myth: The theory goes that the constant rubbing of the hair from the hat and the blocking of the follicles weakens your hair causing it to fall out.
The truth: There is no scientific research to back up the claim. The only way it would actually cause hair loss would be if the hat was so tight that it blocked off all blood flow to the follicles – but the headache you’d get from that would make you remove the hat before it got to that stage.
‘Cutting hair helps it grow back stronger’
The myth: Like pruning your shrubs, cutting the hair helps it grow back stronger.
The truth: No truth to this one. It comes from the fact that shorter hair feels thicker and stronger. This is because hair tapers off to the tip, so the hair at the root is wider than the hair at the top. Shorter hair is also more likely to stand straight up instead of hanging limply down like long hair.
‘Only old men go bald’
The myth: Baldness is something that happens to old men.
The truth: While you’re more likely to go bald the older you get, male pattern baldness can start as early as your teens, while people of any age can suffer from alopecia. It is doesn’t just affect men, women can also suffer from baldness.
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