About 80 million people in the United States experience hair loss according to The American Academy of Dermatology. It can be a symptom of illness, age, genetics or simply poor hair care habits. There are also a number of myths that have circulated the news and blogs world-wide as to what contributes to baldness and hair loss in both men and women. Surprisingly, only a handful of these are actually true.
Read on to see what’s fact and what’s fiction.
1. The average person loses 50-100 hairs per day
Truth: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is the normal amount of hair strands we lose on a daily basis. As your hair grows longer, it may seem as if you are losing more hair; this is normal. However, if you are losing hair in large clumps don’t hesitate to consult a medical professional. It could be the result of early stages of alopecia, insufficient diet, or another serious ailment.
2. Constant exposure to sun encourages balding
Myth: Tanning beds, tanning booths, and natural sunlight do not contribute to hair loss. BUT, according to the National Institutes of Health, it is beneficial to protect the scalp in already-thinning and bald areas from sun damage--use sunscreen if you feel it’s necessary. Excessive exposure to UV-radiation can also contribute to breakage and dull hair.
3. Over-using hair care practices like bleaching and perms, hair dyes can be a key factor in hair loss
Truth: Try to limit the number of these practices on a monthly basis. Bleach is harsh, particularly on textured hair, and you should expect changes to your overall hair health. It raises the hair cuticle in order to remove the natural color from the hair and it also removes moisture, which results in weaker and more brittle hair. A perm is similar to bleaching in that it is a permanent process that involves adding chemicals to the hair to change its form, so it is potentially damaging, as well.
4. Hats can cause hair loss
Myth: Not to fear--keep your hats and scarves handy, but clean. Dirty hats, headwraps, and bandannas can cause infections that lead to hair loss so it's important to wash them frequently. The hat would have to be very tight to cause hair-loss issues.
5. Hair loss/thinning may be temporary
Truth: Certain events such as childbirth, menopause and severe stress can cause excessive hair to fall out--but thankfully, usually only for a temporary period of time. As long as there are still healthy follicles present in the area where hair loss occurred, the hair will eventually grow back.
6. Trauma causes hair loss
Partial Truth: Physical and emotional trauma can cause hair to fall out, but, if it was meant to grow back, it will. Stress and anxiety are two big culprits of hair loss and can cause large portions of hair to fall out. Dietary and medication changes attribute to this as well. Quick shifts in weight loss and gain can also contribute to loss or thinning.
7. Loading up on carbs can lead to hair loss
Myth: Carbs and red meats provide the necessary vitamins and nourishment that hair needs. Meat provides necessary protein for your hair, considering hair is made of mostly protein; but of course you can find protein in other food sources as well. Supplements and vitamins can help to restoring healthy, fuller hair.
8. Millions of people, both men and women, experience hair loss
Truth: Hereditary hair loss is a medical condition that affects about 30 million women and 50 million men of all ages. Hair loss can be inherited from either the mother’s or father’s side, and there is such a thing as female pattern baldness as well as male pattern baldness, though it affects men more often. The medical term for both is androgenic alopecia.
9. Using hairspray and hair gel may lead to hair loss
Myth: Products don't cause hair loss. However, over-primping with the curling iron, flat iron and stretching (straightening hair with blow dryers) can certainly contribute to the problem. Also, curlies and coilies who who like to use gel for their edges should be wary of how often they use it and what kind. Excessive manipulation with gels can put unnecessary stress on your hair-- and no one wants to be edgeless.
10. Nutrition is key in hair loss prevention
Truth: When the body doesn’t get enough protein, hair growth will slow down. Keep a healthy balance of meats, eggs and fish in your diet. Do not take in too much vitamin A either - this will also slow hair growth. Iron is also key and not enough iron in the diet will lead to hair loss. Iron-deficiency anemia is actually the most common nutritional deficiency that causes hair loss and hair breakage; make sure to get plenty of rich green vegetables and legumes in your diet.
Experiencing hair loss? Check out this article for more information and possible solutions.This article has been updated.