The phenomenon of “helmet hair” is one that cricketers, cyclists and climbers know only too well and most accept it as an acceptable side-effect of doing something risky.
In Bangalore, India, however, many thousands of people are shunning helmets for fear of a more worrisome problem: hair loss
According to The New Indian Express newspaper, almost 200,000 bikers have been booked by traffic police so far this year because they weren’t wearing their helmets. Last year’s total was in excess of half a million.
Fear of hair falling out
One of the principle reasons behind the bikers’ reluctance to wear helmets is that they think that the friction and perspiration caused by headgear will lead to their hair falling out. But the police have had enough and are now asking Bangalore colleges to close their gates to any students riding without helmets.
While it might seem remarkable to the western world that vanity would be so highly prized above safety, the story certainly serves as a reminder of just how much most societies value a full head of hair
. Cosmopolitan young Indians are especially image conscious, and when several were interviewed by the newspaper about why they didn’t wear a helmet, the desire to be seen as ‘cool’ and not mess up their hair was a common response.
Constant tension on hair follicles
Their worry, it seems, is a hair loss condition known as Traction Alopecia
, a form of hairloss that can occur when constant, excessive tension is placed on hair follicles. The stress of this tension stretches the hair follicles and this can lead to hair loss.
In certain parts of India, Traction Alopecia is readily seen thanks to high numbers of turban-wearing
Sikhs. While the most effective remedy for Traction Alopecia is to remove the cause of the stress, this is not always possible because of the turban’s deep religious significance. One solution, suggested by Dr Bessam Farjo, founder of the Farjo Medical Centre, is for turban wearers to wind their turbans a little less tightly.
Many Indian youths, it seems, grow up with the idea that anything pulling on your hair will lead to baldness hence their reluctance to wear helmets. But there are multiple causes of hair loss and Traction Alopecia is certainly not always the culprit. In fact, just this moth, Stuff
magazine suggested that a number of high-profile golfers might be going bald
because of Traction Alopecia, as caused by wearing caps when playing. Leonora Doclis, senior trichologist at The Belgravia Centre, however, suggested that Male Pattern Baldness
was a more likely cause.
Giving nature an unhelping hand
There is no recorded link, in fact, between hair loss and helmets. The history books are not as far as we know filled with stories of bald Vikings, or generations of hairless coal miners!
Male Pattern Baldness is the most common hair loss complaint among men in their 20s and 30s and its tell-tale signs include thinning hair
located in areas around the top of the head and/or a receding hairline
. It would be very easy to blame a helmet instead of taking a more honest appraisal of the situation and looking at the family genes!
When properly diagnosed by a specialist, shedding caused by Male Patten Baldness can be stabilised by following a personalised hair loss treatment
plan to prevent further hair fall and promote regrowth. Clinically-proven hair loss products include Finasteride 1mg and Minoxidil, both of which are licensed by the UK medical regulatory body the MHRA and approved by the US equivalent, the FDA.