Does wearing a hat cause hair loss?

Published on February 4, 2022
Updated on February 4, 2022
A man wearing a fedora hat and sunglasses against a textured terracotta wall
Unless you're wearing a very tight-fitting hat all day, every day, it's unlikely to cause hair loss.

From baseball caps to top hats, men with thinning hair are really into covering their heads. Most of us know at least one person who wears a hat everywhere they go. It’s so common that you might have even wondered… is the hat causing that guy’s hair loss?

Hair loss is caused by a number of different things — but the reasons don’t usually include hats. Hat lovers are often just looking for a way to hide their hair problems. Most men lose hair around areas that are hard to hide: specifically, their hairlines, temples, and the top of their head. So, what’s the easiest solution? Cover it up!

Hiding your hair loss might make you feel a bit more confident, but it’s not a permanent solution. Your symptoms will get progressively worse unless you start a hair loss treatment. And if you’ve chosen to wear a tight-fitting hat, cap, or other hair covering, you might even be making your hair loss symptoms worse.

Do hats cause hair loss?

Hats do not cause hair loss, but certain tight-fitting items could potentially aggravate hair loss symptoms. These include close-fitted durags, swim caps, and even tight fitting fedoras. These head coverings can rub against your scalp, irritating your skin and even breaking thin, weak hair strands.  

Before you start to worry, most hats – especially loose fitting beanies, sunhats, bowler hats, flat caps – won’t cause this issue. And if you wear a hard hat every day at work, this shouldn’t cause problems, either. Hats are only likely to aggravate hair loss if they’re so tight-fitting that they’re causing friction, irritating your skin and damaging your hair. 

The most likely head covering to cause hair loss is actually a wig or toupee. Toupees do the best job of hiding hair loss, but that’s because they make direct contact with the scalp. 

Toupees are a hassle to put on and take off and need regular maintenance. Given how much effort this can be, some people don’t remove them at the end of each day. If you leave a toupee on for days on end, you’re not allowing your skin or hair follicles to breathe. In addition to causing friction, this increases the likelihood of skin irritation and even infections that can aggravate your scalp and worsen hair loss symptoms. 

You should also be aware that certain tight hairstyles have the potential to cause and aggravate hair loss. The Mayo Clinic says that cornrows and other tight braids have the potential to cause traction alopecia. Putting your hair into tight braids and then putting on a close-fitting durag may be particularly likely to affect the hair around your hairline and temples, especially if you’re already experiencing symptoms of androgenic alopecia. 

Hiding your hair loss might make you feel better when going outside, but it’s not a permanent solution. If you’re experiencing pattern baldness, your symptoms will get progressively worse unless you start a hair loss treatment. 

You should probably leave your hat off and start using one of the FDA’s approved treatments: minoxidil, finasteride, and low-level laser therapy. These tried and tested hair loss solutions can stop the progression of androgenic alopecia and help you regrow hair.

Start a hair loss treatment before it’s too late.

What really causes hair loss?

Hair loss can be caused by a number of different factors. People can lose hair due to stress, immune system issues, nutrient deficiencies, genetics, and hormonal factors. 

Most people who experience hair loss have androgenic alopecia, which is commonly known as pattern baldness or pattern hair loss. This condition is caused by a  mixture of genetic and hormonal factors. 

According to the American Hair Loss Association, androgenic alopecia is responsible for over 95 percent of the hair loss symptoms men experience. Two thirds of men have noticeable hair loss symptoms by the time they’re 30, and 85 percent have significant thinning before they reach 50.

Symptoms of pattern hair loss 

Pattern baldness is progressive, so you won’t lose your hair very quickly or overnight. A study in the journal Dermatologic Clinics says that people with this type of hair loss usually start to see subtle symptoms, like a receding hairline or thinning hair. This is followed by hair loss at your temples and eventually also starts to affect the crown of your head. 

If left untreated, the hair along the top of your head will get increasingly thin and eventually stop growing back. People who go bald usually retain hair at the lower back and sides of their head, even after the hair at the top stops growing.  

Before you start to panic, you should know that some hairline changes and moderate hair thinning occur naturally, as you age. If you’re concerned you’re experiencing hair loss, keep an eye out for hair loss symptoms, which the Mayo Clinic says include:

  • Thinning hair, particularly around the top of the head or around the hairline
  • Bald spots, particularly at the crown of your head
  • A receding hairline
  • Hair feeling looser and coming out more easily when brushed

You may also want to keep an eye out for symptoms like circular patches of bald spots, irritation, swelling, itchiness, or pain in your scalp, and hair loss affecting multiple parts of your body. These issues are indicative of other forms of hair loss, rather than androgenic alopecia.

Does wearing a hat cause baldness?

Hats are not a cause of baldness, but they are commonly used by people going bald. Androgenic alopecia is the most common cause of balding, affecting 85 percent of men at some point in their lives.  

For centuries, people have used different strategies to mask their hair problems. One of the simplest, cheapest, and most common strategies is to plop a hat on your head to hide your progressing hair loss symptoms. From baseball caps and sunhats to fashionable fedoras, hats are a stylish way to keep people from noticing issues like thinning hair and bald spots.

But if you’re wearing a hat all the time, be aware that tight-fitting hats and caps can irritate your scalp and aggravate hair loss. Loose fitting hats are unlikely to cause problems, but wearing close-fitting caps, durags, or similar hair coverings on a daily basis could cause friction and may increase hair loss symptoms.

It’s also important to remember that hiding your hair loss is not a permanent solution. Your symptoms will get progressively worse unless you start a hair loss treatment, like minoxidil. The earlier you start addressing your symptoms, the better your hair regrowth results are likely to be.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

HAIR LOSS

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