Do Hot Water Showers Cause Hair Loss

How water showers and hair loss

Having a hot water shower could be quite soothing and relaxing, but whenever I have a hot water shower my hair looks dry and weak.

Why is this happening? I was too curious to find an answer. Unfortunately, I could not find any published research studies to support this theory. Therefore I did my own information search.

Does hot water showers cause hair loss? Hot water showers does not cause hair loss but it can damage the keratin protein and strip away the natural oil in your hair, which could make your hair dry and weak, leading to hair breakage.

In this article I will talk about the information that I have gathered on how hot water showers could cause damage to your hair and the ways to avoid it.

How can hot water showers lead to hair loss

Hot water showers are quite soothing and relaxing. However, they are not your best friend, if you want to take care of your hair. Why? The hot water have an indirect impact on weakening your hair.

1. Hot water showers could make your hair and scalp dry

Our hair and the scalp consists of natural oil called sebum. The sebum is produced in our sebaceous gland and helps to keep the skin and the hair moisturized [1]

The hot water showers strip away these oils from your hair. As a result the hair will lose its moisture and it will be dry. When the hair is dry it will be weak and break off easily.

When the scalp loses its moisture, it can cause irritation and dry scalp issues. Due to such issues, your head would be itchy. Scratching your scalp to get rid of this itch could damage the hair roots and increase the risk of hair breakage.

The sebum is made out of fats in our body and they will be replaced naturally with time. But until such time, your hair will be dry, unless it is moisturized from an external moisturising agent.

2. Hot water showers could increase the threat from germs

The dermatologists and experts point that there is a fatty lipid layer in our scalp for protection called Epidermal lipids or stratum corneum lipids [2] [3] [4]. This layer layer is made up of dead keratin cells and natural oils like sebum.

These epidermal lipids help to keep the bacteria away from the scalp . The hot water would melt this fatty layer away, making the scalp more dry. 

This can lead to scalp infections and irritations which could affect the health of the hair and the scalp.

The experts further suggest that this lipid layer would be naturally replaced. However, the time taken to replace this lipid layer could be different from person to person depending on their age, underlying health conditions etc. 

Therefore as older as we get, our body and the hair have less tolerance for hot water showers.

3. Hot water can weaken your hair

Our hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Keratin is found in the skin, the nails and the hair which provides the structural outline and the strength to their cells.

The hot water showers could strip away the keratin from your hair and the scalp. This would make your hair lose its strength and its structure. Therefore your hair will become weak leading to brittles and hair breakage. 

4. Long run effect

Too much of anything is bad for you.

It is true that hot water is helping you to clean the pores or hair follicles by naturally opening them. However showering hot water every day could damage your hair and the skin in the long run.

Our body needs time to replace the lost natural oils, keratin, and the fatty lipid layer which are all crucial for healthy hair growth. If you do not give your hair enough rest days from hot water, then how can your body recover or regenerate them?

This could make the scalp less fertile and reduce the ability to grow new hair in the long run.

Will hair loss from hot water showers be permanent?

I’m not an expert or a professional. Also, there is no clear evidence and research studies to conclude that hair loss from hot water showers is permanent. However, I would be much more positive and say, it is not permanent.

Why? Because hot water showers would remove the keratin, nutrition and natural oils from the hair and the scalp. However they all can be regenerated, either naturally or through supplements.

When judging whether the hair loss is permanent or not, it is important to consider the damage to the hair follicles. The follicles produce new hair, by pushing the old hair from the surface of your skin. The hair follicles produce new hair as long as they are alive.

Every hair follicle has its own life cycle, which depends on various factors. So when you take a hot shower, it is highly unlikely to kill hair follicles completely (I’m not saying it’s not possible but it is highly unlikely).

If you pour boiling water on the hair then there is a chance of killing the follicles. But do not worry, the boiling temperature is too much to touch the skin of any human being. 

However if you continue to shower hot water every day, then there is a chance that it could cause permanent hair loss. But I’m not an expert to give you an exact answer on this theory.


How to avoid hair loss from hot water showers?

Well the obvious answer would be to avoid hot water showers and get used to cold water showers. But many of us prefer hot water showers than cold water showers due to various reasons. So how to take a safe, hot water shower without losing the hair?

1. Shower from lukewarm water

It is important to consider the temperature of the water. The water should not be too hot. It should be mild warm water so that the scalp and the follicles will not get damaged. This will open up the pores in your head and allow you to clean the dirt inside them.

The lukewarm water/mild warm water temperature should be slightly above the body heat level (99.5 – 104 Fahrenheit or 37.5 – 40 Celsius).

Well you might not be able to measure this temperature while showering, so how can you determine the temperature?

Mild warm water in simple terms is the heated water which you could comfortably pour in your body, especially on the inside of your wrist without boiling yourself up. If the temperature seems comfortable then you are safe to shower.

Inside the wrist

2. Limit your showering time

If you are showering hot water, then you should be careful and vigilant about the time that you spend in the shower.

In a youtube video of American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Powers instructs to keep the showering time to a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. This would help to minimize the damage caused to your hair by the hot water.

Dr. Powers from American Academy of Dermatology. Access link

3. Make sure to use a conditioner 

The hot water will strip away the natural oils from your hair. Therefore the hair needs conditioning. Conditioners will help to form a protective coat along the hair cuticle and help to protect against the dryness.

However you do have to keep this in mind. Once you shower hot water, the pores in your scalp open up. Do your best to make sure that the conditioner that you use does not touch the scalp. It must be applied from the mid section of the hair to the end of the hair strand.

After applying the conditioner, you should not rinse off with hot water. Instead use the water of normal temperature and give your hair a gentle rinse. This will close the pores in your hair and trap the moisture in your hair without stripping them away.

If you are using a leave in conditioner make sure that it does not have bad alcohol in it. If there is bad alcohol or short chain alcohol then it could make your hair dry.

4. Give some rest days

Do not shower from hot water every day. Your body needs time to regenerate the lost keratin and the natural oils.

My recommendation is to limit the use of hot water for showering only when necessary.

I cannot specifically state a maximum amount of days per week to get a hot water shower. Because it is not practical if you are living in a cold climate. Now you know what is at stake here, make the best decision.  

What if you have already lost hair due to hot water showers?

This may need the expert opinion of a dermatologist. I would not recommend getting the opinion from a hair stylist or from a hair salon. Because in my opinion, the advice of a dermatologist is the best option in these situations.

It is important to determine whether the hair follicles are damaged or not. This expert opinion could be given by an expert dermatologist.

Reasons why hot water showers could cause hair loss
How to protect your hair in hot water showers

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