Horseradish and pigeon droppings. That's the magic hair-growth potion prescribed by Hippocrates. Alas, there are so many myths about hair loss that folks today are almost as clueless as the father of medicine.
Keep reading as hair loss expert Dr. Robert Bernstein, clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University, explodes 10 all-too-common follicle fallacies...
Myth: Genes for Hair Loss Come from Mom
Genes for hair loss can be inherited from either side of the family, or both sides.
Myth: Bald Guys Have Lots of Testosterone
An elevated testosterone level isn't the cause of hair loss. Hair loss results when certain hair follicles on the scalp are highly sensitive to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). As a result of this extreme sensitivity, hair follicles shrink and eventually disappear.
Myth: Hair Loss Happens in "Patches"
Men generally don't go bald as a result of losing hair in patches or clumps. Rather, baldness occurs when ordinarily thick (large-diameter) hairs are gradually replaced by fine, thin hairs. Doctors call this process miniaturization.
If your hair starts falling out in clumps, it's time to see a doctor.
Myth: Poor Circulation Is to Blame
Growing hair does require healthy circulation in the scalp. As hair loss occurs, scalp circulation declines - because less blood is needed. But decreased blood flow to the scalp isn't the cause of hair loss. It's the result.
Myth: Hats Make You Go Bald
There's simply no support for the notion that hats cause hair loss by keeping the scalp from "breathing." Hat or no hat, hair follicles get oxygen from the bloodstream - not the air.
Myth: Clogged Pores Cause Hair Loss
Clogged pores are associated with acne but not hair loss. If baldness were the result of pore problems, vigorous shampooing could maintain a full head of hair. That's not the case.
Myth: Frequent Shampooing Makes Hair Fall Out
Men sometimes see hair in the tub and think that shampooing is to blame. Baldness isn't about hair falling out, but about normal hair gradually giving way to fine hair.
Myth: Hair Loss Is a Man's Problem
Women generally don't go bald, but more than 40 percent experience significant thinning of the hair.
Myth: Hair Loss Drugs Affect Only the Crown
The drugs Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) don't cause regrowth of hair that has already been lost, but they can slow the pace of hair loss. And while initial studies on these drugs involved hair on the crown, they can work anywhere on the scalp where there is thinning (as long as the area is not completely bald).
Myth: Hair Loss Stops as Men Age
Once hair loss begins, it continues over a person's lifetime. But it's hard to estimate the rate of hair loss. In general, the younger you are when you start to lose your hair, the more likely you are to become completely bald.
However, the rate at which hair will continue to fall out is hard to guess.