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Do hats cause hair loss or baldness?
Is your hat speeding up your hair loss?
Let us clear the air. No, wearing a hat does not cause hair loss.
Pattern hair loss is due to genetics. Your genetics is what influenced your body to be sensitive to the hormone DHT. The American Academy of Dermatology concluded that around 80 million people in the U.S. are suffering from pattern hair loss (1).
Wearing or not wearing a hat does not affect DHT and therefore does not affect hair loss. Wearing a hat can make it seem like your hair is thinning, especially if you already have thin hair.
A hat can push your hair down, make it look messy and potentially thinner. You may also find hair strands in your cap. Finding a hair strand or two in your hat does not mean it is causing hair loss. It is normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day and, of course, more if you are already losing your hair due to other factors (1).
Male pattern baldness is 95% the cause of hair loss. It happens when a byproduct of Testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone DHT, attaches itself to androgen and blocks the nourishment to reach the hair follicle. With hair being starved, they would grow thinner and weaker, leading to baldness.
Other reasons for hair loss in males and females would be poor diet, incomplete nutrition, medicines, stress, and even pregnancy. However, the main reason remains the genetics for male pattern baldness.
What does science say?
Although we need to assess many factors, in the end, it depends on the person wearing the hat. There is a lack of scientific studies regarding this issue.
However, there has been one notable piece of research that can help us conclude if hats do cause baldness.
The research uses quantitative methods by using questionnaires, pictures, and other biological measures to assess if hats were a cause for baldness. Subjects of this study were 95 identical twins who could be the closest thing to being genetically identical.
Each identical twin's data was compared to the other to identify external factors, outside of genetic predisposition, which contributed to hair loss or baldness (2).
Investigating identical twins made it easy for them to exclude genetic factors and focus on the external factors. The results proved that hat does not contribute to hair loss but can help decrease temporal hair loss.
Temporal alopecia is a genetic type of hair loss often referred to as the receding hairline that many men will be familiar with.
Then, why do hats cause your hair to fall out?
People believe that if you are predisposed to male pattern hair loss, wearing a hat will worsen it. We came across some reasons that would be leading to such speculation.
The first problem would be the pulling of hair. If you keep putting the hat on and off, it will pull at your already damaged hair. Hair fallout will lead you to believe that hair loss is speeding up because of wearing the hat.
Another reason is that hats could cause tension on the hair follicles. Wearing the hat too tight will cut off circulation to the hair follicle implying that they can become malnourished and wither out.
The phenomenon of traction alopecia
Many people believe that hats can be the main reason for hair fall because of Traction Alopecia.
Traction Alopecia is a condition that happens due to consistent traction on the head; the hairline recedes from the forehead, temples or nape, due to wearing tight ponytails, helmets, and anything else that is too tight on the head (3). The tightness of these things can cause damage to the hair follicle.
Damage follicles can cause scarring, which can stop the regrowing of hair. However, it is not as bad as it sounds. For you to have Traction Alopecia, you are required to wear something very tight around your head for the longest time. Wearing tight, high ponytails every day can put you at the risk of traction alopecia.
Common symptoms for traction alopecia are inflammation, itching, bumps, or scaling on the head. The good news is that traction alopecia can be reversible; only if it does not leave any scarring on the scalp.
Scarring would mean that healthy hair would not be able to grow back. Much more amusing is that smoking can affect circulation more than hats would do.
Can wearing hats speed up hair loss?
A lot of people prefer to wear hats to hide their damaged hair from the crowd. Especially when there is hair breakage and split ends, although these problems are not linked directly with hair loss, they can make your hair look weak and thin.
Leaving the hat on and off over and over again will eventually lead to the illusion of losing hair. People fail to take into consideration what is causing their hair loss.
They might be predisposed to hair loss, and pulling the hair can be the actual cause of speeding up hair loss. The pulling of hair can be by the hat; this makes it look like hair loss is being sped up by wearing hats.
Wearing a tight hat can cut off the air circulation to the hair follicle, which leads to weak and thin hair. In some cases wearing your hat too tight can cause traction alopecia which essentially means pulling your hair off your scalp.
The bottom line is that wearing a hat will not speed up genetic hair loss. Just make sure not to wear your hair too tight.
Does hair grow back if you stop using hats?
When you're wearing a hat, these strands get collected, and it can look quite alarming because you don't usually notice that your hair is falling out every day.
Moreover, many people begin to observe hair fall when they start wearing a hat. Others start wearing a hat to conceal it and, as a result, when their genetic hair loss begins to accelerate, it's natural to jump to the conclusion that the hat or cap has speeded up their hair loss.
If the cause is genetics, then no, hair would not grow back even if you stop wearing your hat.
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Believe it or not, donning a hat can be beneficial for your hair. An evidential claim is that hair is protected from the natural environmental influences when a person is wearing a hat, whether it be any season of the year. Wearing a hat when going outside is highly recommended.
In winters, going out with wet hair can make your hair weak and cause breakage. While in summer, it protects your scalp from UV rays which prevent your hair from drying out or breaking.
But can hats cause hair loss? The answer is yes and no. It does not cause hair loss, but rather it aggravates the hair fall. If anyone has male pattern baldness, the hair loss with wearing caps will make it more evident.
Moreover, if you notice a thinner ponytail or unhealthy hair, you should reach out to a medical professional. The sooner you get your hair loss treated, the more chances there will be to reverse it.
- Grant Phillips T, Paul Slomiany W, Allison R II. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. AFP. 2017 Sep 15;96(6):371–8.
- Gatherwright J, Liu MT, Amirlak B, Gliniak C, Totonchi A, Guyuron B. The Contribution of Endogenous and Exogenous Factors to Male Alopecia: A Study of Identical Twins. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 May;131(5):794e.
- Smith A. Traction alopecia: Causes, treatment, and prevention [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2021 Sep 12]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320648