Hair loss in Sikh men with turbans - Causes of Male Hair Loss

Hair loss is a real problem for Sikh men who find that the constant wearing of a turban, as dictated by their religion, leads to hair loss. And Sikh men are more commonly affected by hair loss than men in any other group.

Why is this?

The Sikh religion requires men to have long hair which is covered by a turban. This is known as ‘kesh’. The reason for this is that it enables them to be recognised by other Sikhs as well as ensuring their visibility. As a result of this Sikh men cannot have short hair.

One way of maintaining long hair is to wear a turban but what does happen is that this pulls down on the hair over a period of time which damages the roots and causes hair to fall out. Hair can also be lost when the turban is taken off or replaced back on the head.

Hair loss is distressing but a Sikh man needn’t feel ashamed or if he has offended his religion if this occurs as a result of wearing a turban. As long as this hair loss isn’t a result of hair cutting then he can still retain his Sikh identity.

Causes of hair loss in Sikh men

The main reason for this is wearing a turban. The turban is a length of material which is tightly wound around the head. The Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times that pulls the hair to such an extent that it weakens it, leading to hair loss.

Sikh men are prone to many different forms of hair loss but the most common is traction alopecia. This type of alopecia is caused by a tight hairstyle which can affect women as well as men. It is where there is excessive force on the root of a hair strand which weakens it and leads to hair thinning and eventual loss.

Traction alopecia occurs over a long period of time but when it does the effects can be permanent.

Sikh men are required to ritually comb their hair and this can also cause this type of alopecia. One way of avoiding this is to use the fingers first to remove any tangles or knots in the hair before applying a comb. This will reduce any drag by the comb on the hair and so minimise the risk of hair damage.

And keep the hair soft and healthy even though it is covered by a turban.

How can hair loss in Sikh men be treated?

Many doctors would advise cutting the hair if traction alopecia has occurred but this is not an option for Sikh men. If you are a Sikh man who has hair loss as a result of traction alopecia then you will find that there are several options open to you which do not compromise your religious beliefs.

These include:

  • Choosing a lighter type of turban. Switch from a heavy material to a lighter one and make sure that you use the minimal amount of pressure to secure it in place. The aim is to reduce any pressure on the hair.

    Try to avoid winding it too tightly around the head and use grips to secure it at the back instead. This takes off some of the pressure on the hair especially at the front of the scalp where there is the greatest risk of hair loss.

  • Ensure that your hair is directly on the top of your head when you wind the turban. This means that your head will support nearly all of the weight of your hair when you are standing.

    Try to keep your head upright when you are sitting down and avoid leaning back if you can.

  • Wearing your hair in a ponytail instead of wearing a turban. There are some Sikhs who have chosen to do this and as long as it doesn’t compromise your religion then consider it as an option.

    If you do opt for a ponytail then don’t have a tight ponytail and secure it loosely.

Unfortunately, traction alopecia will result in some hair loss around the hairline but following a few of these suggestions above can help to protect the rest against further loss.

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