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Breaking point: Understanding and treating hair breakage at the crown

Experiencing damaged hair or hair loss of any kind can be stressful.

Written by
Deirdre Fidge
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
January 16, 2024
6
7
min read
9
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Breaking point: Understanding and treating hair breakage at the crown
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No matter your gender, age or profession, experiencing damaged hair or hair loss of any kind can be stressful.

How we look affects the way we feel about ourselves and even the way we carry ourselves through the world. It might seem trivial at first though, but it's really not. Your hair can play a huge role in making you feel like you.

With this in mind, we've done a deep dive into a common frustration: hair breakage at the crown of your head. What causes it, and can it be treated? Don't jump to becoming a daily hat person just yet — here's the run down on how to keep your hair healthy.

How can you tell your hair is breaking at the crown?

First things first: where exactly is the crown of your head? Also known as the vertex, which literally means the highest point, the crown is at the very top of your scalp towards the back [1].

If you're experiencing hair breakage at the crown, you might notice thinning hair in this area. It could look like:

  • Hair thinning or shedding
  • A small patch of hair loss, or
  • Damaged hair or shorter hair strands around the crown (this might look like split ends)

It's important to keep in mind that it's normal to lose hair regularly. In fact, it's estimated we lose around 50-100 scalp hairs each day [2]. More than this could be an indicator of hair loss, which is different to hair breakage.

What's the difference between hair loss and damaged hair?

They may look or feel similar, but there's a big difference between hair loss and broken hair.

William Gaunitz, certified trichologist, explained to website RealSimple that, "while hair loss and hair thinning is an issue with the absence of hair growing from the scalp and hair follicle, hair breakage is a break in the hair shaft below the surface of the scalp" [3].

Gaunitz contrasted this with hair loss or hair thinning, which occurs when the density of the hair becomes thinner and is a "prolonged decrease" in the overall volume of the hair. This is the type of hair loss that is more associated with old age.

So if you're struggling with broken hair, the first thing to do is work out what is causing it.

What causes hair breakage at the crown?

Hair breakage can be caused by a whole range of environmental and lifestyle factors. And if it's localised on one area like the crown of your head, it might be easier to pinpoint why exactly you're losing hair.

Here are the most common culprits.

Tight hairstyles

While we love a man bun as much as the next person, this particular hairstyle isn't doing your hair any favours.

Tying up your hair in tight ponytails and buns or tight braids can put too much tension on the hair follicles, especially if worn regularly, and eventually lead to breakage. If you're also noticing scalp soreness, this might be causing the breakage.

Heat styling tools

The same goes for heat. While blow-drying your hair is fine every now and then, it can be harsh if you're doing it every day.

If you can, try lowering the heat settings to find the sweet spot between effective styling to avoid future hair breakage. Some blow dryers have a 'cool setting' — consider investing in a blow dryer that has one.

Blasting cold air after a blow dry (or throughout, if you have thicker hair) can help soothe your hair during the process.

Lack of moisture

If you've ever gone hog wild with bleach you'll know how brittle and fragile dry hair can get. Regardless of whether you dye your hair or not, dry hair is an indicator of your hair's health, and a sign you might want to give it some moisture.

You might also consider avoiding blow drying for a while, too.

Thyroid disorders

Hair breakage and hair loss can be an indicator of certain disorders like hypothyroidism [4].

If you're noticing other symptoms like excess fatigue, joint pain or sudden weight gain, consider speaking to your doctor or healthcare professional.

Not having regular haircuts

There's a reason hairdressers recommend having regular trims and it's not just so they keep customers. Cutting your hair frequently means any split ends are regularly cut off, and also means you receive nice scalp massages, which help stimulate blood flow on the head.

Seeing a professional hairdresser also ensures your hair is being washed with specialist, high-quality products (no harsh chemicals), and they can provide personalised advice on how to ensure healthy hair and prevent future hair breakage.

Plus, there are a few haircuts that can help hide a balding crown, which you might want to consider upon your next visit to the barber.

Does hair breakage grow back?

The long and the short of it is yes, you can treat damaged or broken hair so your overall head of hair can grow back [3].

Individual hairs that are broken will keep growing, but depending on how bad the damage is you may need a haircut to snip off split ends. Dermatologists have reported that hair loss and breakage can be remedied with proper cleansing and styling practices [5].

It's also worth investing in a good hair care routine involving specialist products, like Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo & Conditioner, which contains active ingredients like saw palmetto, caffeine and biotin to target thinning hair, minimise breakage and give your follicles the best chance to thrive.

How to treat hair breakage

The good news is there are things you can do today to take steps to remedy any hair damage. Here are some tips direct from dermatologists [8]:

Hair growth treatment

Expert hair treatments address every stage of hair regrowth to prevent hair breakage while helping to fix hair breakage simultaneously.

If you're experiencing hair loss, Pilot's prescription hair loss treatment is worth considering. Our hair loss medication improves the delivery of vital nutrients to the follicles, while also blocking the hormone which impacts hair growth.

Your hair loss stage and family history will determine the strength of your treatment for the best possible results, while minimising your chance of side effects. This is called your lowest effective dose. From here, your practitioner-prescribed treatment is compounded into daily capsules.

While hair loss or breakage can be disheartening, it is treatable and the earlier you jump on it, the better. In fact, patients who began treatment between the ages of 20-40 experienced 60% more hair density compared to those who started between 41-60 [9].

Use heated tools sparingly

Heat damage is a common culprit of damaged hair, but if you can't avoid it, consider using hair products like a heat protectant spray beforehand.

Try letting your hair air naturally a few days a week for optimum hair health, and ensure you're not vigorously brushing wet hair.

If you're a swimmer

Wear a swim cap if swimming in chlorinated pools, and make sure you wash your hair immediately after.

Other factors that affect hair growth and quality

Stress

We know it's trite to simply say 'reduce stress!' as though it's simple, but stress really does affect all aspects of our well-being, including our hair health [6]. The good news is that stress-related hair loss is shown to be temporary and reversible.

If you're trying really hard to stop hair breakage, it's worth thinking of your hair as just one part of your overall health and well-being. Try to look after yourself holistically.

Diet and nutrition

If your body is lacking in certain vitamins or minerals, it can present as hair loss or breakage [7]. This can be caused by poor diet, eating disorders, or simply accidentally not consuming enough variety.

If you're experiencing sudden hair loss alongside other physical symptoms, consider speaking to a healthcare professional to double-check you aren't nutrient-deprived.

Vitamin D, in particular, is associated with hair loss of various causes [7].

Sun exposure

We're used to slip-slop-slapping our face and body, but did you know UV affects hair strands too?

UV rays can cause brittleness and damage the hair shaft, making it more prone to breakage [8]. The simplest way to avoid sun damage is to pop on a hat, although some products now contain zinc oxide to prevent UV damage.

The main takeaway

We all want healthy hair, and it can be distressing or confusing when brushing hair leads to a minor meltdown. The good news is that almost everyone will experience hair breakage from time to time and in most cases it's very treatable.

The first thing we'd recommend is checking the cause of the breakage: do you aggressively brush wet hair? Are you blow-drying every day? Consider doing an audit on your hair health to ascertain the culprit of the damage.

Remember there is help available such as specialist hair loss products, and lifestyle changes you can make that will prevent future hair breakage and promote healthy hair growth.

If you take care of your hair and get regular trims, you should notice a change in the look and feel in just a few months.

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