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Do Headphones Cause Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Updated 04/04/2024

If you frequently wear over-ear headphones, you might notice that they can flatten your hairstyle. Can wearing headphones cause hair loss, though? Probably not — but it’s good to be aware of the factors that can lead to balding.

This might seem silly if you mostly use earbuds, but let’s think about it. Headsets or headphones sit on our heads for an extended period while we work, game, commute and exercise. Could the friction damage your hair follicles and cause hair loss?

You aren’t the first person to Google “do headphones cause hair loss.” While there’s little research on the topic, chances are that the audiophiles among us don’t need to worry about headphones causing hair loss.

Let’s look at what you need to know.

First thing’s first: There’s no study saying that over-ear headphones definitely cause hair loss in women or men. In fact, it’s very unlikely that wearing headphones will lead to hair loss.

What about hats? A study compared 92 sets of identical twins. It found that certain factors (like smoking and dandruff) were connected to hair loss. However, other things (like wearing a hat) weren’t found to be connected.

Though this study wasn’t done on headphones specifically, it does show that wearing something on your head may not be directly linked to hair loss. So, headphone balding probably isn’t a thing. 

Good news, right? Well, don’t pop the champagne yet.

How Scalp Tension Might Affect Your Hair

One of many causes of hair loss is traction alopecia. Constantly putting tension on your hair — like wearing pulled-back hairstyles, tight-fitting headbands and beanies — can damage the hair cells and follicles to the point of shedding.

Traction alopecia can cause permanent bald spots. If the hair follicles are damaged, this doesn’t only cause hair to shed — it can affect new hair growth. Anything that constantly puts strain and pressure on your hair follicles can cause traction alopecia.

So, can headphones cause balding, or do headsets cause hair loss? No, probably not.

However, if you’re wearing them too tightly to the point of creating stress or strain on your hair follicles, they could.

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All things considered, if you’re noticing hair thinning, your headphones probably aren’t to blame. However, one of the most common causes of hair loss is male pattern baldness (or androgenetic alopecia). This has nothing to do with your headphones, but it can develop in patterns around the scalp and crown that might make you believe your Bose® headset is to blame.

Male pattern baldness is estimated to impact 50 million men in the United States — and nearly half will have it by age 50. With those stats, you can see why many guys who notice thinning might assume it’s an unrelated cause, like daily headphone use.

It happens due to a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. The hormone involved is called dihydrotestosterone (or DHT for short). In guys genetically predisposed to baldness, DHT attaches to receptors in the scalp and causes the hair follicles to tighten.

This means new hair has a tough time growing — and that’s when hair thinning or baldness occurs.

Additionally, when you wear headphones, the band can mess up your hair. And, if you’re experiencing any unrelated hair loss (like male pattern baldness), your messed-up hair could expose bald spots and thinning hair.

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Though there’s no proof that headphones cause hair loss, it doesn’t hurt to know how to avoid traction alopecia.

Your goal should essentially be to avoid anything that pulls on your hair — including headphones. If you wear the type of headphones that have a band, make sure the band is somewhat loose and rests gently on your head.

And if you can’t afford to replace those tight-fitting headphones just yet, avoid wearing them for long stretches.

Another option is to switch to in-ear buds or the kind that hook over your ears. Neither of those comes in contact with your scalp, so you wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of traction alopecia.

Regardless of headphone use, you can also avoid this type of hair loss by staying away from tight hairstyles — like braids, tight ponytails or (gulp) a man-bun. 

If you think you’re experiencing traction alopecia (headphone-related or not), you should schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional to discuss hair loss treatment options.

Although dermatologists are usually best to talk with about hair loss, you could start by speaking with a general practitioner or another healthcare professional.

You might be prescribed topical or injectable corticosteroids, antibiotics or antifungal shampoo if hair-tugging is causing inflammation or irritation.

Medication for Hair Loss

If the hair loss is severe, your healthcare provider will likely suggest FDA-approved hair loss treatments like minoxidil.

This topical medication is thought to increase blood flow to your scalp, encouraging hair follicles to move into their active growth stage. We offer minoxidil foam and minoxidil liquid solution for hair loss.

With traction alopecia, the key is to catch it early. It can lead to permanent hair loss, which can’t be addressed with medication. This is because the constant tugging can cause scar tissue to build up, making hair growth impossible.

If you have permanent hair loss from traction alopecia, medications like minoxidil aren’t likely to be effective. This is because long-term traction alopecia damages the hair follicles so badly that they’re largely replaced by a form of scar tissue

When this permanent damage occurs, the only way to replace your hair is through a hair transplant surgery.

Of course, your hair loss may be unrelated to your headphones. If you have male pattern hair loss, your healthcare provider will probably suggest minoxidil and another FDA-approved medication designed to put a damper on DHT production called finasteride. You could also try our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray.

Hair Loss Supplements and Shampoos

Other common causes of hair loss include telogen effluvium (which is caused by stress or trauma) and nutritional deficiencies. A hair health supplement (like biotin) or a multivitamin containing various nutrients might help if you have a deficiency.

Another option is hair products specially formulated to address your hair concerns, like:

Hair loss isn’t just annoying — it could be your body’s way of signaling it needs some help. So, if you notice bald spots, breakage or significant hair fall-out, you’re wise to look into it with a medical professional.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Do headphones cause hair loss? We’re not convinced.

The most common health issue associated with over-the-ear headphones is noise-induced hearing loss — this typically happens over time from all the loud noise.

But there’s little-to-no link between headphone use and hair loss. Here’s the basics of what we covered:

  • There’s no evidence that headphones can cause hair loss. Seriously, like zilch. But tight-fitting headphones might cause traction alopecia, a form of hair loss caused by constant tugging at the scalp.

  • Headset and headphone bands might also expose bald spots. If they mess up your hairstyle, hair loss from an unrelated cause might be more visible.

  • You can take precautions to avoid headphone-related traction alopecia. Wear the adjustable headphone band loosely, or switch to earphones that fit in your ears and don’t go over your head.

On the bright side, traction alopecia and other types of hair loss can often be treated, especially if you catch it early. If you’ve noticed that your hair is thinning or falling out, make an appointment with a healthcare professional.

Need a hand? We can help you connect with a healthcare professional from the comfort of your own home. They will be able to assess your hair loss and come up with a treatment plan. 

7 Sources

  1. Gatherwright, J., Liu, M., Amirlak, B., et al., (2013). The contribution of endogenous and exogenous factors to male alopecia: a study of identical twins. Plast Reconstr Surg. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23629119/
  2. Androgenetic Alopecia. Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/androgenetic-alopecia/
  3. Kinter, K., Anekar, A., (2021, January). Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  4. Cranwell, W., Sinclair, R., (2000). Male Androgenetic Alopecia. Endotext. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/
  5. Kapadia, A. (2014). Traction alopecia. Retrieved from https://dermnetnz.org/topics/traction-alopecia/
  6. Heath, C.R., Robinson, C.N. & Kundu, R.V. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://skinofcolorsociety.org/dermatology-education/traction-alopecia/
  7. Pulickal, J.K. & Kaliyadan, F. (2020, August 12). Traction Alopecia. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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