There are dozens of myths that continue to permeate our popular culture when it comes to women and hair loss. Below, we debunk the ten most common myths regarding female pattern hair loss.
Perhaps the most common myth about hair loss in women is that hair loss is monopolized by men. In reality, 40% of people who suffer unwanted hair shedding are women, and 50% of all women will experience female pattern hair loss by the time they reach 50: Part of the reason for this is the reduction of estrogen when women reach menopause.
Women also do not lose their hair the same way that their male counterparts do. For instance, women do not typically have receding hairlines like men do. While men who suffer from male pattern baldness lose their hair in an “M” shape as their hair recedes, women tend to experience hair thinning that is diffuse and located right atop their heads. Furthermore, while most cases of female pattern hair loss are triggered by genetic factors, female hair loss can also be brought on by aging and hormonal changes.
Many people also believe that simply having too much testosterone is the cause of hair loss in women. In reality, simply having more testosterone will not lead to increased hair loss. Instead, it is the body’s ability to convert testosterone into DHT, an androgen that is clinically proven to increase hair loss, that determines how much hair is lost, if at all. Evidently, the level of testosterone-to-DHT conversion efficiency will differ from person-to-person, and your doctor may prescribe a medication that reduces or prevents your body from converting testosterone into DHT.
Another common myth is that birth control causes hair loss. However, this may only be the case with much older forms of birth control that use certain types of progesterone. Most modern oral contraceptives don’t usually carry these side effects and actually have anti-androgen (male hormone) properties. As a result, your doctor may actually prescribe birth control to help reduce hair loss in some cases.
In addition, some people believe that hair loss in women is permanent. However, the hair shedding or thinning may be temporary. For instance, women who give birth may lose their hair temporarily, as their bodies try to revert back to their pre-pregnancy levels. Dietary issues may also be to blame, as women are more likely to suffer from zinc and iron deficiencies than men. Since zinc and iron play an important role in hair health and maintenance, simply increasing your intake of iron and zinc can help restore lost hair.
Some people also claim that stress causes hair loss. While a traumatic event, such as surgery or a severe illness can cause hair loss, stress in of itself has not been scientifically proven to actually cause hair loss. In other words, once the traumatic event has come to pass, the hair loss passes with it.
Another common myth is that only older women lose hair. In reality, girls with a family history of hair loss can start to lose their hair in their teenage years. Younger females may also lose their hair due to nutritional deficiencies, hormonal disorders-such as PCOS-and eating disorders.
Another trend that has taken the world by storm is avoiding shampooing altogether. Many people believed that shampooing actually increases hair loss. However, the reason why it seems that you lose more hair while shampooing is because hair shedding is more noticeable when you shower. It is actually perfectly normal to lose 100 to 150 hair strands per day, but people tend to notice hair loss more when it is looking up at them from their shower drain.
Hence, shampooing is actually encouraged to reduce hair loss as regular shampooing helps reduce dandruff-which can inhibit hair growth-as well as remove harmful chemicals and oils from the scalp that can trigger increased hair loss.
Many people also claim that excess sun exposure causes hair thinning. This is simply not the case, as Vitamin D is a vitamin that we receive from sun exposure, and plays a pivotal role in normal hair cycling. In fact, a study published in the Skin Pharmacology and Physiology publication found that women with female pattern hair loss had drastically lower amounts of Vitamin D in their bodies than women who didn’t suffer from the condition.
Another common myth is that hair coloring can cause hair to fall out. In reality, it is not the coloring itself that causes hair loss but the number of times you color your hair and how you color your hair that matters. For example, if you overuse hair dryers, hot irons, or chemical straighters you will weaken your strands, causing easier hair breakage. Tight extensions or braids can also weaken hair due to the added tension.