Dubai: You may be one of many in the UAE experiencing hair thinning, hair loss, or balding, and wondering if the water from your shower head is responsible for your continuous hair woes.
With the average person shedding between 20-50 strands of hair a day as each hair goes through its very own hair cycle, losing some hair is perfectly normal.
However, if you’re noticing a significant increase in the amount of hair loss or have started to notice signs of balding and are blaming the city’s tap water, hold that thought.
Gulf News tested four samples of tap water from four different areas in Dubai — Deira, Bur Dubai, Silicon Oasis, and Jumeirah — identifying the chemical levels found in each sample.
After investigating the city’s water quality and talking to experts, the findings showed there is no direct link between Dubai’s water quality and hair loss or balding, and this is why.
Dubai trichlologist Dr Mike Ryan explained that it is a common misconception for people to link their hair problems — from dryness to hair loss and even balding — to water quality. But what many don’t understand is that the majority of serious hair conditions are a sign of an underlying health problem. With many patients claiming their problems only started when they came to Dubai, Dr Ryan said the hair thinning as a result of the city’s tap water is physically impossible.
Experts believe that hair loss is usually caused by one of three factors; genetics, health conditions, or psychological well-being.
While a change of environment may lead to a change in hair condition and texture, hair loss is not linked to the quality of water. Hair follicles are extremely sensitive to change, said Dr Ryan. “They are complex microorganisms with their own immune system… and they are sensitive to change of atmosphere, a change in diet, a change in environment, and even a change in relationship or the change of a boss at work.”
When a person undergoes any type of change or experiences stress, their hair could respond by slowing down and switching off. The hair goes into a transition stage known as ‘catagen’, which signals the end of the active growth of a hair (anagen phase), followed by the resting stage known as the ‘telogen’ phase.
When experiencing high levels of stress, hair can stay in a resting phase a little too long, leading to noticeable hair loss. Just the same, a change in hormone levels or suffering from a health condition could be the cause of hair loss. Dr Ryan explained there are over 50 different reasons that cause hair loss in women. Some include perimenopause, diabetes, insulin resistance, postpartum depression, lack of zinc, fibroid issues, and vitamin D deficiency, among others.
Dr Nameer Abdul Majeed, Specialist Dermatologist at Aster Medical Centre in Al Ghusais, told Gulf News there is no scientific study that links water type to increased hair shedding. He confirmed that the main key to hair loss management is to identify the underlying cause and treat it appropriately.
The length of hair varies with each individual, which depends on the three-phase hair cycle; the growing phase, resting phase, and falling phase.
“For people who have longer growing phase (anagen phase) the hair tends to be longer. This depends on an individual’s genetics and environment,” said Dr Majeed.
Genetics vs nutrition
Poor nutrition is also a common factor that can disturb the hair’s condition. However, most cases of hair loss in males are genetic and are known as male pattern alopecia, said Dr Mike Ryan. Genetic balding in men usually follows a pattern, which starts with a receding hairline, followed by a bald patch at the back of the head that gradually joins the front patch. “If a man is shedding a lot of hair in the shower, that is not genetics and he should get it checked out because it’s most likely an underlying cause,” said Dr Ryan.
Hair fall in women as a result of genetics is not as common. For a woman to experience genetic hair loss there has to be a strong prevalence of balding in the females in her family, including her mother, sisters, aunts, grandmother, whereas genetic balding in men could be passed down the line or can skip a generation, explained Dr Ryan. In some cases, a man could be bald even if both his parents have a full head of hair as it could come down to either genetics or poor nutrition.
If you’re still suspicious of the city’s water quality, experts recommend installing a shower filter that may help reduce dryness. However, when it comes to hair loss, a quick blood test could rule out genetics, and determine an underlying health issue that could be triggering your never-ending hair woes.