Throughout the course of my BJJ training, I have heard several of my training partners claim that starting BJJ has resulted in hair loss in baldness for themselves and others. This was a surprising claim to me and I wanted to investigate it further to see if there was any truth to their claims.
BJJ does not cause permanent hair loss or baldness. Other factors such as age correlation between the typical age of BJJ athletes and the age hereditary baldness presents itself are a primary factors. Other temporary hair loss from Ringworm and friction-based removal also add to the misconception.
Let’s go into some specifics regarding the claims of hair loss due to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the other factors that cause the confusion that leads to these claims in the first place.
Age Correlation Between BJJ Athlete Demographics and Genetic Hair Loss
Male pattern baldness and hereditary hair loss and the demographics of a typical BJJ athlete overlap in such a way that makes many athletes consider whether or practicing BJJ has resulted in their hair loss. This is more of a matter of coincidence than any causal relationship between BJJ and hair loss.
You can look at the demographic data we have easily available for BJJ athletes here. The survey is from 2012 and while the number of people involved in BJJ continues to grow these ratios still seem anecdotally representative in 2020. If you take a look at the age brackets on the site you’ll see that almost 80% of the BJJ population is over the age of 26 and the median profile of the typical athlete is 30 years old. This is important when we look at some statistics regarding hair loss and baldness in men.
Noticeable male hair loss can occur anywhere from the age of 20 onwards. If you take a look here you can see that by the age of 30 over 25% of men will have noticeable hair loss. With over a quarter of people experiencing hair loss by 30 and over 50% by the age of 50 experiencing hair loss, it is easy to see that a big proportion of men practicing jiu-jitsu will be going through hair loss.
Since balding and thinning hair is a sensitive topic that bothers most men that are going through it, it is natural for them to seek out answers as to why it is occurring. Many of these same men will be in the beginning stages of their BJJ training so might want to blame BJJ for their sudden hair loss, when the truth of the matter is that many men their age are just going through normal hereditary hair loss.
Does Ringworm From BJJ Cause Permanent Hair Loss?
When you start any grappling-based martial art you need to be aware of the possibility of ringworm, and BJJ is no exception. One of the symptoms of ringworm, a fungal infection commonly found in grappling sports, is temporary bald spots or hair loss on the head.
The simplest way to prevent ringworm on your scalp and sidestep the hair loss is to use some basic dandruff shampoo like Head and Shoulders available on Amazon and many other retailers which has anti-fungal properties.
Sometimes hair can turn brittle and break easily without some of the more visible signs of ringworm such as the ring-like patches or red irritated skin which can cause concerns for permanent baldness. However, after ringworm is treated the hair will regrow normally.
Does Pulled Out Hair From BJJ Cause Permanent Hair Loss?
In the vast majority of cases, hair that is incidentally pulled out or removed from your body will regrow normally. Hair can be temporarily lost on your limbs and your head and will grow back over time.
In some rare instances the hair follicle will be removed or damaged and scarred over, but this is not an extremely common occurrence and will not accumulate in enough follicles simultaneously to make somebody have visible permanent hair loss.
Many men are sensitive to hair loss and baldness and want to find some causal relationship they might be able to change, some folks want to point it to when they started jiu-jitsu training. This is simply not the case and is just correlation without causation.
Due to the correlation between the typical demographics of BJJ athletes and the age at which the onset of hereditary hair loss occurs people may incorrectly assign a causal relationship between practicing jiu-jitsu and going bald.
There are other factors such as accidentally losing hair through friction-based hair removal in the course of grappling as well as hair loss through ringworm. These are both events that cause temporary loss of hair and do not cause permanent hair loss.
There isn’t any evidence that practicing jiu-jitsu or grappling in general causes you to go bald, so just keep on training!
For more check out Am I Too Old To Start Training BJJ? | A Guide For Older Adults.