Can plucking your hair out stop your hair loss?

09/06/2015

Businessman pulling his hair out

Scientists in California have come up with a new way to prevent hair loss. Ironically it is to pluck your hair out yourself. At first sight this seems a bit of a paradox. If you are getting mighty thin on top it would seem the last thing you would want to do is run the risk of looking even more depleted up top. But the results issued by researchers at the University of California do suggest that removing your hair by degrees could lead to faster growth.

There should be a proviso here. So far, all the research has just been done on mice. True, rodents in many ways are very much like humans, but there is yet to be substantial scientific results for effects on people. But the recent results are definitely catching people’s imaginations – there is already a piece about it on the NHS Choices site.

So how is it supposed to work?

The theory behind it is the scalp needs a reason to start growing hair again. If you pluck your hair out it will stimulate the scalp into a burst of regeneration which not only replaces the missing hair but triggers a widespread spurt of regrowth.

That’s fair enough but to be honest just writing about it is beginning to make me cringe. Like many people the idea of pulling your own hair out creates a feeling of deep horror. Perhaps this could be a new line of occupation? Skilled practitioners could be paid to come round and pull you hair out.

Drugs to mimic plucking

Well, the good news is those scientists behind the discovery believe it could lead to the creation of drugs or therapies which mimic the effect of plucking – so the physical need to pluck hair out (ouch!) would not be needed. Either way there is a long way to go in streamlining investigations and facilitating proper therapies.

Dissenters

There are scientists who do not believe in the new findings. Dr Bessam Farjo, founder of the Farjo Hair Institute and Medical Director of the Institute of Trichologists, said: “Whilst it’s certainly interesting to see the results of this study in mice, all previous observations suggest that repeatedly plucking a human hair follicle will weaken the root, and eventually cause the follicle to die. People pluck hairs – such as eyebrows – out all the time, and it doesn’t seem to stimulate the growth of other hairs. It’s great to see scientists putting resource to studies of this sort, but more scientific tests and human evidence are needed to substantiate the findings of this initial report.”

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