Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a few loose hairs. There has been a popular myth on the internet for a long time that headphones, hats, and other types of headgear can cause hair loss. Since trying and testing headphones is a daily affair it got me worried. Can headphones make you bald?
Fortunately, headphones won’t make you go bald no matter how long you wear them, given that it’s comfortable. Unless your headphones are digging into your scalp and cutting off blood circulation to your hair follicles for a long time, your hair won’t die out and you won’t go bald.
Let’s dig deeper and address those balding concerns.
Addressing the myth
Let’s shove aside genetics for now since I don’t want to think about my old man’s balding scalp. I just hope that I got good hair genes from my mom’s side since the X chromosome holds the primary baldness gene. More on that later. For now, let’s figure out why there’s such a strong myth about headphones causing baldness.
According to research males are predisposed to baldness and are affected more by it compared to females. Researchers found that the proportion of men who experience hair loss increases with age. The study shows that among men between the age of 18 to 29, around 16 percent experienced moderate to extensive hair loss. That proportion rose to around 53 percent for men between the age of 40 to 49.
No wonder both gaming and headphone forums are getting louder about hair loss. Those statistics are hedged against you and it scares me as I enter my 30s. However, that’s the harsh reality everyone needs to face. Losing hair makes me feel older than I am and my back pain isn’t a confidence boost. I assume most people are like that and blame their headphones on the first opportunity.
Traction Alopecia and Genetics
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that can cause bald patches. It’s a terrible disorder with harsh psychological effects and unfortunately, it can’t be controlled. Once you are diagnosed with this disorder, expect bald patches on your head, beard, and all kinds of places. However, it’s not the same with traction alopecia.
Traction alopecia can be controlled since it’s caused by us. In my younger days when I used to keep long hair, I tied them tight while gaming or in front of a screen. That causes a lot of traction which can weaken the hair follicles and cause traction alopecia. Moreover, traction alopecia affects your temples and forehead and the edges of your hair in general. I guess that solves the mystery of my receding hairline.
While I don’t have long enough hair to tie them to the back anymore, I do use a lot of headphones that can worsen the problem. While there’s nothing I can do if I have the AR gene from my mom’s side, there are many things that can be done to prevent tension and abrasion to the scalp and hair follicles from headphones. Let’s check them out.
Use comfortable headphones
While shopping for headphones, it’s best to get the comfiest pair for your head. If they aren’t comfortable, you’re more likely to move them around and adjust them numerous times to make them fit. Getting headphones that are too tight isn’t great for your hair either. That impedes blood circulation to your hair and also causes unnecessary tension in your hair. Moreover, it creates better opportunities for your hair to get tangled and cause even more tension.
When you’re wearing headphones for the most part of the day like me, your headphones need to be a perfect fit. Excessive tension doesn’t just cause traction alopecia but also external compression headaches. The problem is even worse if you wear glasses. Glasses with tight headphones can pinch on your temples and escalate the problem.
That’s why it’s important to try and test out headphones before you buy them. If the headband isn’t large enough to fit your head perfectly or lacks adequate padding on the headband and the earcups, it’s going to be uncomfortable. If you buy headphones online, make sure that they have a return period.
Apart from the headband adjustment and ear cup padding, you should also check out the weight of your headphones. Even with the thickest ear cup padding, an excessively heavy headphone will weigh down on your head and become uncomfortable for long hours of use.
Maintain headphone hygiene
Similar to your keyboard and mouse, your headphones get dirty very quickly. Sweat, dandruff, dirt, and all kinds of filth get stuck to your headphones. If you don’t clean them properly, you’re basically wearing a colony of bacteria, viruses, and other types of harmful microbes on your head. These microbes can get into your ear, skin, and hair and cause all kinds of diseases.
All those infections and diseases can be prevented by routinely cleaning your headphones. Get a small bottle of 99.9 percent isopropyl alcohol and wipe your headphones with it while they are not plugged in. You can also wash your earpads every two months and replace your ear pads and headband after they get deformed. This keeps your headphones comfortable and reduces tension on your hair and scalp.
Use earphones and IEMs
If you’re still concerned about hair loss from headphones, you can ditch them entirely. With advancements in technology, there are plenty of good true wireless earphones and multi-driver IEMs in the market. They sit in your ear canal and stay far away from your head. However, make sure to clean them regularly and wash/replace ear tips regularly.
Unfortunately, we men have statistics working against us when it comes to balding, and headphones don’t play an active role in it. However, you can make sure to get a comfy pair of headphones and keep them clean so that you don’t add to the balding problem. Reduce tension on your hair and scalp at all costs and make sure to stay far away from publicly shared headphones.