Sometimes it seems that everything causes hair loss. Some cyclists have found that their forehead recedes more the more they ride - so, does cycling cause hair loss?
There are a couple of issues with cycling that can cause hair loss, especially for middle-aged men.
- Nutrition. This is a problem for athletes in general. Hard training can cause depletion of certain proteins that are needed to grow healthy hair, and can cause you to use up vitamins faster than you are replenishing them (particularly if you are trying to lose weight). This, especially if you are also stressed, can cause a kind of hair loss called "telogen effluvium." The good news - this kind of hair loss is temporary and easily treatable - with supplementation to replace the lost nutrients. A scalp care shampoo can also help, but only in conjunction with fixing the nutritional short fall. Because this hair loss is caused by hair follicles "falling asleep" when they don't have enough energy to produce hair, it has nothing to do with male pattern baldness and men and women are equally at risk. Again, though, it can be easily reversed with better nutrition and scalp treatments.
- Helmet use. You should be riding with a helmet, but wearing a helmet for long periods of time can cause scalp problems. Helmet use aggravates dandruff and other causes of itchy scalp. It can also cause traction alopecia, caused by pulling hair backwards constantly. To prevent this, use a moisturizing shampoo or conditioner and make sure your helmet fits correctly - it should be neither too tight nor too loose. Also, keep your helmet clean and store it properly. Another trick is to wear a piece of cotton cloth or scarf between the helmet and your head - it might look a little goofy, but it reduces friction and absorbs sweat, helping keep your scalp healthy and reduce the tugging effect of the helmet on your hair.
One thing you may have heard is a myth - the wind blowing in your face while cycling does NOT cause your forehead to recede. It's actually the helmet pulling on your hair that does that - so, slowing down your rides will not help unless you are over-training. However, a lot of wind exposure can cause hair to dry out and become brittle - another reason to use a moisturizing shampoo if you ride a lot. Wearing a cloth under your helmet can also prevent the wind from damaging your hair. Long hair is more vulnerable to damage or temporary hair loss from wind exposure - but any hair that is pulled out by the wind will regrow when that follicle activates again. Extensive sun exposure can also cause hair damage and accelerate hair loss, but can also be dealt with by covering your hair when you ride.
And, of course, none of this is a reason to give up your bike (or not wear a helmet). Instead, take simple precautions such as covering your hair, using the right shampoo, and improving your nutrition. If none of this helps, then you may want to talk to a trichologist - a scalp expert - on how to slow and reverse hair loss. Remember that genetics, not lifestyle, has the largest impact on male pattern baldness (which can rarely affect women).
If you need help with hair loss, then contact New Look Institute. We have a boutique clinic, a trichologist on site, and lots of experience working with our clients to help them regain the look they desire, whether through hair restoration treatments (we use plant-based topical treatments that have fewer side effects than traditional medication) or hair replacement.
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