Can wearing a hat really rub the hair follicles on your head so much that it causes your hair to fall out? Possibly, but there’s not much science to support the idea.
Hair loss can be caused by a combination of things such as:
- hormonal changes
- medical conditions
Much research has gone into understanding male pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia. But barely any of that research has looked at how wearing a hat might cause hair loss in men.
Read to learn more about the connection between hats and hair loss.
In one study, scientists investigated how several different environmental factors affected hair loss in 92 pairs of identical twins. The scientists found that twins who wore a hat experienced less hair loss in the area above their forehead than twins who didn’t wear a hat.
Other factors associated with increased hair loss in that same area include:
- increased exercise duration
- drinking more than four alcoholic beverages per week
- more money spent on hair loss products
However, Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Dr. John Anthony said that wearing hats that are very tight or hot could possibly decrease blood flow to the hair follicles. That’s because the decrease in blood flow could stress the hair follicles and cause them to fall out. Such hair loss is usually temporary but could become permanent over time.
If you’re concerned about the connection between hair loss and wearing hats, wear loose-fitting hats rather than tighter hats.
According to the Mayo Clinic, both men and women usually lose about 100 hairs a day. This hair loss is healthy and natural. It doesn’t cause thinning or loss of hair at the scalp because new hairs are growing at the same time.
When the process of hair loss and growth is unbalanced, you may begin to lose hair.
Hair loss can also happen when hair follicles are ruined and replaced by scar tissue, which could possibly happen if you’re wearing a very tight hat. But that’s unlikely.
Known causes of hair loss on the scalp include:
Having a family history of hair loss is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. Genetic hair loss usually occurs slowly during adulthood.
Men tend to lose the hair above their foreheads or on a bald spot on top of their head first. Women tend to experience an overall thinning of their hair.
Like many of the body’s processes, hair growth and loss are controlled by changes in the body’s hormone levels. Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and thyroid problems can all affect the levels of hormones in your body, and affect your hair growth and loss.
Medications and supplements
Some people experience hair loss as a side effect of taking certain kinds of medications, including drugs for treating:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
Radiation therapy to the head may also cause hair loss and result in thin hair growth when it does grow back.
High stress levels are associated with several hair loss conditions. One of the most common is called alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune condition triggered by stress. It causes patchy hair loss all over the scalp.
Some people pull out their own hair as a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings. This condition is called trichotillomania.
Experiencing a stressful event such as physical or emotional shock may result in a general thinning of hair after several months. Usually this kind of hair loss is temporary.
Hairstyles and hair treatments
Overtreatment and over-styling of hair can also cause hair loss. Styles such as very tight pigtails or cornrows can cause traction alopecia, a kind of gradual hair loss caused by a continuous pulling force applied to the hair.
Hot oil hair treatments and permanents (perms) may harm the hair follicles on top of your head, causing them to become inflamed and the hair to fall out. If the hair follicles begin to scar, the hair might be lost permanently.
While scientists aren’t certain that hats cause hair loss in men, it doesn’t seem likely. However, as a preventative measure, you may want to avoid wearing excessively tight hats.
Because hair loss is mainly genetic, you may not be able to can’t completely prevent baldness. But there are some things you can do to avoid preventable types of hair loss.
Some tips to avoid hair loss include:
- Don’t wear overly tight or pulled hairstyles like braids, buns, and ponytails.
- Avoid twisting, stroking, or tugging your hair.
- Be gentle when washing and brushing your hair. Try using a wide-toothed comb to avoid pulling hair out when brushing.
- Do not use harsh hair treatments that may cause hair loss, such as hot rollers, curling irons, hot oil treatments, and permanents.
- If possible, avoid taking medications and supplements known to cause hair loss. Talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any kind of medication or supplement.
- Protect your hair from strong sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet rays, such as tanning beds, by wearing a scarf, loose hat, or other form of head protection.
- Stop smoking, as smoking is linked to hair loss in men.
- Ask for a cooling cap if you’re treated with chemotherapy. Cooling caps may help reduce your risk of hair loss during treatment.
If you’ve begun to lose your hair, contact your doctor for help identifying the possible causes and finding the best solution for you.
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