A leading Australian lifestyle website recently had Aussie blokes in a bit of a tizz. It ran a story that suggested that Australian men are more likely to go bald than males in any other country in the world. The story drew on fact sheets published by the Australian Government that showed that nearly half of all Aussie men would experience significant hair loss before they had passed through their forties. That’s an exceptionally high proportion of men losing their hair.
What are the reasons behind this, and are there any other environmental factors that might be making your country of origin a contributor to your hair loss? Keep scrolling to find out!
High UV Levels
What seems to be the main problem in Australia is the country’s high UV levels. The website quoted the aptly-named Dr Sun who explained that “UV light produces a lot of reactive oxygen species which not only damage the grown hair but also the hair follicles on the scalp.” The article also highlighted other factors that could be contributing to high rates of hair loss in Aussie men, including dietary shortcomings.
The story illustrates that different environmental factors can be contributory causes of hair loss in specific areas of the world. It raises the possibility that your geographical location and its particular environmental issues could be a factor in your hair loss. Let’s look at some of these issues.
Climate and Pollution
While there is no direct evidence linking climate to hair loss, certain climatic conditions can contribute to hair damage. We have seen from the Australian example that high levels of UV radiation can damage our strands and our hair follicles, but that’s only one example. Hot, dry air can suck moisture out of your hair, leaving it brittle and prone to breakage. This can result in hair loss over time.
Similarly, humid conditions can cause hair to become frizzy and unmanageable. In extreme cases, high humidity can also cause hair to become weaker and more prone to breakage. Extreme weather conditions, such as cold winters or hot summers, can also cause stress on the hair follicles.
Exposure to pollution is another factor. Pollutants in the air (dust, smoke, car emissions) can accumulate on the scalp and clog the hair follicles. They can cause inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to the creation of unstable molecules known as free radicals which can damage the hair follicles. We have already mentioned the danger of UV radiation, but air pollution can also increase exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
Hard water contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can build up on the scalp and cause damage to the hair follicles. The pH of water can also affect your hair. Water that is too alkaline or too acidic can disrupt the natural pH balance of the scalp. The scalp is the ‘garden’ in which your hair grows, so anything that disrupts it may affect hair growth, too.
Water sources may contain chemical contaminants such as lead, arsenic and pesticides, which can be harmful to hair health. Chlorine is commonly added to municipal water supplies to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. However, exposure to chlorine can damage hair by stripping it of its natural oils, causing it to become dry and brittle.
The type of diet that is commonly consumed in a particular region may also contribute to hair loss. For example, in some countries, traditional diets may be low in protein. Since hair is primarily made up of protein, consuming a diet that is low in protein and high in carbohydrates is unlikely to result in the growth of strong, healthy hair.
The traditional diet of other countries may be low in iron and other nutrients. Certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and biotin, are essential for healthy hair growth, so diets low in these nutrients will not support vigorous hair growth. That means that hair lost as part of the natural growth cycle may not be replaced.
Some places have diets that are high in saturated and trans fats. Some countries may consume excessive amounts of spicy foods. Both these types of diets can lead to scalp inflammation and damaged hair follicles.
Overall, while where you live can contribute to hair loss, it is unlikely to be a major factor. Genetics, age, medical conditions and hormonal imbalances, are all likely to be more significant determinants of hair loss. Even your haircare habits and products are likely to be more of an influence, and they’re not specific to any country.
If you’re worried about hair loss or thinning, talking to a hair specialist can help. Vinci Hair Clinic is one of the foremost hair restoration organisations in the world, and we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients. You can choose to have this in person or over the phone using photographs, whichever suits you best. Get in touch and book your appointment!