Myths and folklore about hair loss

baldness folklore

Throughout history, many strange and unusual concoctions have been touted as cures for baldness. And there have been as many myths surrounding the causes of hair loss as there have been unusual cures. But from the beginning of human history until the 1980s, nothing proposed as a cure for baldness worked. Ever.

Among some myths about hair loss are:

That hats cause baldness. Bald or balding men are more likely to wear hats to cover their (perceived) deficiency, so the idea that hats cause baldness has persisted for some time. There is no truth in this, of course; hats are simply worn to hide bald heads, they don’t contribute to the problem unless they are extremely tight or don’t fit well.

The idea that massaging or cleaning the pores of the scalp will restore hair growth. Hair loss is caused by the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which causes hair follicles to shrink and gradually stop producing hair. Scalp massages and pore cleanses do nothing to reverse this process.

Some believe that long hair will stress the roots and cause hair loss. Long hair does not contribute to baldness; baldness is a genetic condition.

It has long been held as a belief that baldness is inherited from the mother’s side of the family. In truth, you can inherit baldness from either parent. A man with a bald father is more likely to lose his hair than a non-bald man anywhere in his family.

I have heard some say that shampooing hair will speed up the balding process. Is not true. The hairs found after shampooing are the ones you would have lost anyway. They were ready to go.

It has even been thought that an active intellect or mental illness can cause baldness. Due to the close proximity between the brain and the hair, it was believed that too much brain activity or too many psychological problems could contribute to hair loss. Needless to say, this theory is invalid and there are plenty of examples to refute it.

A proposed cure for baldness suggests that shaving the head would increase the amount of healthy hair on the head, so that a fuller head of thick, healthy hair would grow back. Of course, there is no truth to this, and those who try it will be disappointed with the results.

According to a popular cure for baldness, standing on your head would correct hair loss. This was based on the theory of blood flow. The idea was that standing on your head would increase blood flow to the hair follicles, thus waking up those that were no longer active. However, evidence has shown that standing on your head, no matter how long you do it, has no effect on hair loss.

Famed psychic Edgar Cayce recommended massaging the scalp with pure crude oil two to three times a month, followed by a grain alcohol rinse, and finally a Vaseline massage. This process, he said, would ensure the wearer a full, shiny head of hair.

In ancient Egypt, the rancid fat of various animals was used as topical applications for baldness. The smellier the better, as the idea was that the stronger the smell, the more effective the cure would be. It would seem to many of us today that being bald is preferable to smelling like the insides of a hippo.

Other stinking cures have included various animal droppings and urine, sulfur and tar, and a host of stinking herbal concoctions.

Fortunately, we have reached the point where we have somewhat effective treatments for hair loss: and it seems that we are on the cusp of even more effective ones, such as hair cloning. Even so, there will probably always be those willing to sell snake oil to those eager to buy it.