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Hair loss facts and myths

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We’ve all heard the old wives' tales about hair loss. From hats causing hair loss to whether the condition is all down to your genetics. But how do you know which is fact and which is fiction? In this article we talk you through what actually causes hair loss and how you can look after your hair.  

Does ageing cause hair loss?

Ageing can contribute to hair loss, however it’s not the only cause. Hair loss is complex, influenced by factors such as lifestyle and genetics. Your levels of stress, any medications you take, or improper hair care can also cause hair loss. Young people can also experience hair loss, including those under 40.

The most common type of hair loss associated with ageing is known as androgenetic alopecia, or male and female pattern baldness. If you’re experiencing significant hair loss you should speak to your GP.

Is hair loss genetic?

The genes you inherited from your family have a role to play in your risk of losing your hair. Look to your grandparents or parents to se

Is treating hair loss important?

You may not be too worried about losing your hair. Instead choosing to embrace the change rather than start treatment or ask for medical advice. However, hair loss can be caused by an illness, stress or nutritional deficiency amongst other things. If hair loss is a symptom of an underlying health condition, treating the root cause can be beneficial for your overall health. There are treatments available that can also help to prevent any further hair loss or slow it down.

e how likely it is you’ll lose your hair. If there is a family history of androgenetic alopecia, the likelihood of you experiencing hair loss increases.

However, hair loss isn’t always genetic. A type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium is caused by physical or emotional stress. Events like childbirth or surgery can cause increased hair shedding.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your hair loss, then speak to your GP. Getting help early on can help you to manage your hair loss.

Losing hair from stress

Stress affects our body in lots of different ways, and it can cause hair loss. Stress pushes a large number of hair follicles into the resting phase. This is where they stop growing. Stress related hair loss includes:

  • Telogen effluvium: Significant physical or emotional stress can cause temporary hair loss and increased hair shedding. This type of hair loss is usually reversible once the stress is reduced.
  • Trichotillomania: Extreme stress or anxiety can lead to compulsive behaviours such as hair pulling. This can result in noticeable hair loss.
  • Alopecia areata: Symptoms of alopecia such as patchy hair loss can be triggered by stress. It can affect the scalp, face and body.  

If you think stress is causing your hair loss speak to your GP. 

Do bald men have more testosterone?

It’s often thought that baldness is linked to virility in men and higher levels of male hormones. In a study, 33% of the people we asked believed that bald men have more testosterone (the male hormone). 

However, it may be the case that men as they get older and develop male pattern baldness, they have lower levels of testosterone. Hair loss, although a symptom of dropping testosterone levels, can also be caused by other things, mainly genetics. 

Can over washing hair cause hair loss?

While washing your hair you may find more falls out in the shower. Scrubbing your scalp can encourage hair that was going to fall out to fall out sooner. Instead, gently massage your scalp and lightly apply shampoo and conditioner.

Brushing can also pull-out hair, a wide toothed comb can be a gentle option. If you don’t wash your hair very often you could also notice more hair falling out in the shower. Using heat on your hair or bleaching can also cause hair loss. 

Do certain hairstyles cause hair loss?

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that’s caused by your hair being constantly pulled. Certain hairstyles, such as tight ponytails or extensions, can pull on hair which can lead to hair loss. However, it may not be the only thing causing your hair loss.

Tight hairstyles can also make pre-existing hair loss worse. Instead choose hairstyles that are kinder on hair, such as wearing it down or in a loose bun. Or you can embrace your changing hair with a buzzcut.  

Does masturbation cause hair loss?

Masturbating is a normal and healthy activity that can relieve stress, amongst other benefits. You might have heard that masturbating can cause hair loss. However, there’s no scientific evidence to back up this claim for men or women. If you’re currently experiencing hair loss it is probably more to do with your genetics or lifestyle factors, such as stress than how much you masturbate. 

Can the contraceptive pill cause hair loss?

Contraceptive pills can cause side effects, including headaches, breakthrough bleeding and even hair loss. Hair loss caused by contraceptive pills is uncommon. Whether you experience hair loss also depends on the type of pill you’re taking. For example, Yasmin is a combined contraceptive which could see 1 in every 1000 users affected by hair loss. Whereas the progestogen only pill Cerazette could cause 1 in every 100 women to experience hair loss.

If you have hair loss while taking the contraceptive pill speak to your GP. If we prescribed your pill please send us a message in your Patient Record.

Creatine hair loss myth

Many people take creatine as a supplement to increase exercise performance. If you do, you may have heard the rumours that creatine can cause hair loss. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support this theory. Hair loss can be affected by your diet, stress levels and vitamin deficiencies. If you’re following a strict diet or restricting food groups and experiencing hair loss speak to your GP.

Smoking hair loss myth

Smoking can damage hair by reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients it gets. Hair follicles struggle to grow, and hair can become: 

  • Brittle
  • Dry
  • Prematurely grey 

Stopping smoking can help to restore hair health. 

Does hair loss medication work?

How well hair loss medication works depends on the type of hair loss you have and how you use it. Many hair loss medications have to be used every day for the best results. If you stop using them then your hair loss will return. 

Hair loss treatment available at Lloyds Online Doctor

Finasteride  is available at Online Doctor - it is a a daily tablet for male pattern baldness which halts hair loss in 9 out of 10 men. It can take 3-6 months to see effects. Finasteride is also known as generic Propecia.

How to know if hair loss is permanent

There are some types of hair loss which are temporary like alopecia areata and some which are permanent like male pattern baldness. Sometimes, you can stop hair loss by addressing the cause of your hair loss for example stress-related hair loss.

Finding out which type of hair loss you have can help you understand if or when your hair loss will stop. Speak to your GP about your hair loss or start a consultation with Online Doctor today.


Authors and editors

Reviewed and updated by: Our clinical team Date reviewed: 15-02-2024