Did Male Pattern Baldness predate the shower?
February 28, 2006 8:07 AM   Subscribe

It just occurred to me that the spot on your scalp that receives the focus of the force of the water in a shower coincides with the spot where hair loss in MPB first appears? Is this just a coincidence?
posted by garbo to Health & Fitness (40 answers total)
 
Male pattern baldness has nothing to do with showering. It's even common in chimps.
posted by letterneversent at 8:10 AM on February 28, 2006


Is this just a coincidence?

Yes.
posted by raedyn at 8:12 AM on February 28, 2006


I asked my GP if having a very powerful showerhead would accelerate my rate of hair loss. She assured me that it is entirely due to genetics and the shower won't make any difference.
posted by Idiot Mittens at 8:13 AM on February 28, 2006


A lady who used to cut my hair swore that there was more baldness here in the US because we all take hot showers, whereas in her home country of Argentina (or perhaps another S American country), there was less baldness because people didn't have as much opportunity to take hot showers.
posted by poppo at 8:16 AM on February 28, 2006


I'll take bald over smelly any day!
posted by incessant at 8:17 AM on February 28, 2006


poppo, next time have a geneticist cut your hair.
posted by biffa at 8:18 AM on February 28, 2006


Unless that woman is also a geneticist I would think that she wouldn't really know what she's talking about. MPB is genetic and the gene pool in Argentina is not the same as the gene pool in NA.
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2006


If it weren't a coincidence, wouldn't we see a lot more bald women?
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:24 AM on February 28, 2006


It's all about how sensitive your follicles are to DHT. For not really understood reasons, the order of sensitivity goes from "very high" in the temples and crown to very low along the sides. Hair transplanted from the back or sides to the top of the head won't fall out, no matter how many hot showers you take... the difference is in the follicles themselves.
posted by the jam at 8:29 AM on February 28, 2006


Coincidence? yes. However, I think you are onto a potential new scam marketing opportunity.
posted by caddis at 8:35 AM on February 28, 2006


the spot on your scalp that receives the focus of the force of the water in a shower

In which shower? Oh, the one in your house? Yeah, that one is probably what made you bald.

Everyone knows that Americans are bald because of the hats.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:40 AM on February 28, 2006


MPB first appears at the forehead, not the vertex. I don't know how you shower, but that's certainly not where I aim mine.
posted by mendel at 8:41 AM on February 28, 2006


If it weren't a coincidence, wouldn't we see a lot more bald women?

Women, in general, face toward the water, to let the water wash their hair back, while men put their back to the water and let it run down their head from the back toward the front. So maybe not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:47 AM on February 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've never put my back to the water. Ever. In fact, when I read this question, I was like, "Huh?"
posted by WCityMike at 8:48 AM on February 28, 2006


I love boiling, scalding hot showers. Especially on my scalp. And wearing hats.

And I'm not going to go bald anytime soon. In fact, I probably wont ever go bald, or even ever get old enough to start. (Unless I start shaving my head again.) While the men in my family are blessed with thick luxurious hair that lasts well into their 70s, 80s and beyond (even if it does turn grey/white rather early) we're also cursed with high blood pressure, high cholesteral and heart disease.

It's genetics.
posted by loquacious at 8:51 AM on February 28, 2006


Women, in general, face toward the water, to let the water wash their hair back

We do?

Anecdotally speaking, the years I spent showering in the open showers at the Y suggest otherwise. Turning your back to the water is practically mandatory to rinse shampoo out of longer hair.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:51 AM on February 28, 2006


poppo, next time have a geneticist cut your hair.

my next askme question: "can anyone recommend a good geneticist in the DC area to cut my hair"
posted by poppo at 8:57 AM on February 28, 2006


Anecdotally speaking, the years I spent showering in the open showers at the Y suggest otherwise. Turning your back to the water is practically mandatory to rinse shampoo out of longer hair.

My anedoctal experience is the same. (I never faced the shower until I cut my hair very short.)
posted by desuetude at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2006


Anecdotally speaking, the years I spent showering in the open showers at the Y suggest otherwise. Turning your back to the water is practically mandatory to rinse shampoo out of longer hair.

I agree. There sure are a lot of blanket statements about women going on around here lately.
posted by agregoli at 9:05 AM on February 28, 2006


I wasn't sure if what I said was true; I heard a playwright say it once and it sounded generally true. Interesting to hear other sides.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:10 AM on February 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


If Shakespeare is any indication, yes. Comedy of Errors includes extended banter about male pattern baldness:
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. Marry, sir, by a rule as plain as the
plain bald pate of Father Time himself.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. Let's hear it.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. There's no time for a man to recover
his hair that grows bald by nature.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. May he not do it by fine and recovery?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. Yes, to pay a fine for a periwig, and
recover the lost hair of another man.
....
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. But your reason was not substantial, why
there is no time to recover.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. Thus I mend it: Time himself is bald,
and therefore to the world's end will have bald followers.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. I knew 't'would be a bald conclusion. But,
soft, who wafts us yonder?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:16 AM on February 28, 2006


I'm with WCityMike. I shower face-first. I'd pay ten-thousand dollars to get male-pattern baldness on my face.
posted by Plutor at 9:21 AM on February 28, 2006


Wait, maybe I said it the wrong way.... maybe women face the back, and men face the front? I'd look it up but I don't have the script in front of me (will check when I get home). Oh well. Sorry for the slight derail :-)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:34 AM on February 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


While we are on the subject of genetics of hair loss. Is it true that your maternal grandfather's hair loss has more in common with your hair loss than your paternal grandfather? I heard this rumor many years ago and doing my own unscientific research it seems bald guys more often than not have bald grandaddys on their mother's side. Bullshit or not?
posted by any major dude at 9:40 AM on February 28, 2006


PSH: unless this playwright was also a geneticist and a barber (like Shakespeare), I think we can discount the expertise.

I long for the centuries before showers were invented, when no one was bald—except for the native Americans who always took their showers under idyllic waterfalls, so they were all completely bald, but they made it part of the look.
posted by fleacircus at 9:45 AM on February 28, 2006




Well, there are rumors that The Bard was bald due to a treatment for syphilis, so he might not be the best example.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:06 AM on February 28, 2006


I was not aware that showers, and the way people take showers was so standardize. I suppose I should change my present shower regimen, except that I would go bald!
posted by Napierzaza at 10:12 AM on February 28, 2006


While we are on the subject of genetics of hair loss. Is it true that your maternal grandfather's hair loss has more in common with your hair loss than your paternal grandfather?

I've heard that it's carried by the woman, so, instead of marternal grandfather, you'd look more at your mother's brothers, or grandmother's brother.

This theory would seem to be supported in my family, where my father and maternal grandfather have full heads of hair, and my brother is nearly completely bald. My mother's brother is a pool cue as well. I figure my children might go bald for this reaon.

Probably completely anectdotal.
posted by FortyT-wo at 10:12 AM on February 28, 2006


Women, in general, face toward the water, to let the water wash their hair back, while men put their back to the water and let it run down their head from the back toward the front. So maybe not.

Maybe I don't have much experiance watching men shower, but I've certanly never had my back to the shower, other then when I'm rinsing it off, and then the water is hitting my back, not the back of my head.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2006


Genetics (hormone levels/balance and hair follicle susceptibility to said hormones).

There's some association with parental male-pattern baldness and increased incidence of breast cancer.

On the showering topic, I'd imagine that mechanical stimulation of the scalp = more blood flow + biofeedback would lead to increased follicle health, but I can't find any peer-reviewed studies.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:34 AM on February 28, 2006


If it had something to do with water pressure, wouldn't more women be bald due to longer times spent under the water rinsing for longer hair?
posted by desuetude at 10:59 AM on February 28, 2006


Given that the existence of baldness predates the invention of the shower, I'd guess coincidence.
posted by scody at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2006


My hair is starting to recede. My maternal grandfather always had hair, although it was fairly thin as he got old. My mom's brother is bald. My had has a lot of hair but this three brothers are all bald(ing). So genetics is the key, but it doesn't seem so simple as maternal grandfather.

RE hair loss in Argentina. I know at least in Mexico balding is much less common. So maybe the same Hispanic or Indian factors in Mexico apply to Argentina.
posted by 6550 at 1:10 PM on February 28, 2006


...my dad has
posted by 6550 at 1:11 PM on February 28, 2006


Bidet.
posted by yesster at 1:46 PM on February 28, 2006


While we are on the subject of genetics of hair loss. Is it true that your maternal grandfather's hair loss has more in common with your hair loss than your paternal grandfather?

I've heard that it's carried by the woman, so, instead of maternal grandfather, you'd look more at your mother's brothers, or grandmother's brother.


Whereas I read a well written, well researched, scientific book* last week that said it's caused by a number of interacting genes which don't have an obvious inheritance pattern. And backed it up with references.

Blood flow etc to the follicles makes no difference either, it's not caused by hair loss but by a different type of hair growing (smaller, much finer). It's still a happy healthy hair, just not one that contributes to a hairy-looking head. That part comes from a class I did on hair growth as an undergrad but take a close look at your local friendly bald guy's scalp, you can see the hairs are still there.

Also baldness starts in different places for different people depending on hair growth patterns (again from the undergrad bio class). So the original statement "the spot on your scalp that receives the focus of the force of the water in a shower coincides with the spot where hair loss in MPB first appears" is wrong. Therefore the question is invalid.

*Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi. Great book, highly recommend.
posted by shelleycat at 3:39 PM on February 28, 2006


Already answered, of course, but still:
I am six foot three. I have rarely been in a shower in which the water hits the top of my head without me stooping. I have MPB.
posted by attercoppe at 7:40 PM on February 28, 2006


I found the male/female shower dynamic interesting as well. If the water is overly hot in any way, I have to face the showerhead since my back seems to be a lot more sensitive. However, my boyfriend claims that he always faces away.
posted by amicamentis at 10:51 AM on March 2, 2006


I'm reminded of the Franciscian order of monks, who would shave the crown of their head (called the "tonsor," which I think it Latin for "barber"). It was suggested that this was like an anti-yarmukle, but my roommate the Bible scholar has a more convincing answer: St. Francis had male pattern baldness, and the monks in this order were imitating him.

I think St. Francis predates showers.
posted by Mozai at 11:00 AM on March 2, 2006


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