There are several different phobias related to people who are bald, going bald, or losing hair – all very specific.
If you think you might have a phobia of bald people, you might be here to find out for sure. It can be very unsettling, not knowing why you feel the way you feel.
On the other hand, if you’re a bald person wondering whether certain people’s reaction is driven by an actual phobia, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s take a look at the different phobias that exist related to baldness. We’ll explore what could cause them, and how to cope if you have a phobia of being bald.
Is there a phobia of bald people?
Peladophobia is both the fear of becoming bald and the fear of bald people. It originates from the Spanish word for bald, which is “pelado”. It is believed to be caused by negative experiences when meeting bald people – either being injured by them, or threatened by them.
The word is more related to the fear of bald people than to losing your own hair – that’s a separate phobia. Someone suffering from peladophobia is more likely to fear becoming bald because of their fear of other bald people, rather than a fear of having no hair.
Despite the believed origins of the fear coming from the negative experiences of bald people, it is very much a phobia (which is categorized as an irrational fear). That means that usually sufferers can identify that their fear has no real basis – they aren’t prejudiced against bald people.
But that doesn’t stop them from suffering some of the classic symptoms of a phobia. These include anxiety and panic when in the presence of bald people, and even in serious cases shortness of breath, nausea, heart palpitations, and a fear of dying.
Personally, I’ve never experienced this kind of reaction to my bald head (or not that I’ve noticed anyway). But if you have, try not to be offended.
if you’re a bald person and someone reacts in this way around you, remember they can’t help it. They aren’t thinking logically, it’s literally just a reaction in their brain!
Some people even have an extreme version of peladophobia where they believe that bald people resemble, or could become, zombies.
I don’t really understand that one, but apparently, it’s true.
What is the fear of losing your hair called?
The fear of losing your hair is called Trichophobia. It’s also a fear of loose hair in general. Someone suffering from Trichophobia is likely to feel highly anxious when they see loose hairs on their pillow. They may jump to the conclusion that their hair is falling out unnaturally.
The phobia also relates to touching loose hairs. The sensation of holding loose hairs can cause panic symptoms to set in.
All of this can make some regular day-to-day activities quite difficult for sufferers of Trichophobia. It’s probably best not to ask them to clean the bathtub as one of their regular chores.
Even getting a haircut can be quite a traumatic experience. However, the specific phobia of getting a haircut is called Tonsurephobia.
Just to add a bit of confusion, there’s a separate phobia around becoming bald. This is different from both Trichophobia and Peladophobia.
Phalacrophobia is considered to be the extreme fear of becoming bald. It comes from the word Phalacroisis which is a Greek work meaning complete hair loss. It’s more a fear of going completely bald than Trichophobia, which focuses more on the fear of the process of losing hair.
And while Peladophobia is a general fear of baldness, Phalacrophobia is a personal fear of becoming bald.
Why do people fear bald people?
It’s not really easy to explain why people fear bald people, because everyone’s fear motivations are different.
People that have a genuine phobia of bald people (something that they can’t control and that they can acknowledge isn’t logical) are likely to have some deep-seated traumatic experience that just happened to involve a bald person.
The mind often reacts to negative experiences in extreme ways. If a person is beaten up, or robbed, and the perpetrator just happens to be bald, the mind can make connections that link bald people to that negative experience.
The sufferer knows that it’s nonsense. But meanwhile, the amygdala, a more instinctive part of the brain, is working against this logical conclusion.
It’s especially likely if the person just doesn’t happen to know any bald people before the traumatic experience occurs. Their first real interaction with someone bald is a bad one.
But there may be other reasons too.
Some scientists believe that phobias are linked to genetics – or at least, it plays a part in the inclination to have some form of anxiety-related disorder.
If you’re someone of a nervous disposition, that may have been passed down to you from previous family generations. Then, depending on your circumstances, that may manifest as a phobia.
Representations of bald people
Some people associate baldness with specific cultures that are closely linked with violence and intimidation.
Neo-Naziism is the major one. Many Neo-Nazis will sport a shaved head, which is a little ironic considering the original Nazi Party idealized the stereotypical Aryan with blonde hair, rather than baldies.
But that’s because it has its roots in the skinhead subculture. Neo-Nazis were formed as a group known as white power skinheads in the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They then spread across Europe and North America into the 80s and 90s.
They have some seriously scary ideologies. It’s not a huge logical jump that someone who has either been exposed to skinhead or Neo-Nazi culture or has watched a lot of news about them, might develop a fear of bald people because of it.
People being intimidated by your appearance is one of the disadvantages of shaving your head.
Of course, someone associating bald people with scary Nazis just needs to be reminded that most of us are lovely! (bald people that is, not Nazis. Those guys are the worst.)
What do you call a person who hates bald people?
There isn’t a word that describes a hatred of bald people in the same way that there are words that cover hatred of other races, genders, or sexualities. Instead, you would just have to describe a person who hates bald people as prejudiced.
(There are a few other words you might like to call them as well, but don’t lower yourself to their level!)
According to the UK courts, you can apparently label a person that makes prejudiced comments about bald men ‘sexist’. A UK judge found that commenting on a man’s baldness was equivalent to commenting on a woman’s breast size.
Because baldness is more prevalent in men than women, the tribunal in the case decided that using “bald” as a negative comment was related to sex. The victim in the case won compensation.
How to treat a phobia of bald people
If you are someone who suffers from a phobia of bald people, or of going bald yourself, you may wish to seek treatment. Especially if you find yourself alongside bald people regularly, such as at work.
Phobias are a manifestation of an anxiety disorder. Speak to your physician first and see if there is any support that they can offer you.
Normally, a visit to a psychiatrist is necessary to look at specialist treatments for what is essentially a mental health condition. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy could treat it.
Some people swear by hypnotherapy too. Whether it is legitimate or not is not a question I can answer. But, if you are having serious problems in your day-to-day life because of your phobia, maybe it’s worth a shot.
How to treat baldness if you have a fear
If you have a serious case of phalacrophobia – where you’re specifically worried about becoming bald – then you might want to take steps to address it. While I’m all about being bald and proud, I wouldn’t want to take a phobia lightly.
Normally there are three treatment options for hair loss beyond shaving it off. One of them is SMP, essentially a hair tattoo, and that’s purely cosmetic. If your phobia is related to looking bald then this might help.
In terms of medication, the only FDA-approved drug to help with hair loss is Minoxidil. This can’t help with a receding hair line but it can promote hair growth if your hair is thinning.
Otherwise, you may wish to consider a hair transplant. This is a more extreme measure, but it could give you a thicker, fuller head of hair and roll back your fears about your baldness.
A hair transplant doesn’t hurt as much as you might think, and is certainly a popular choice in the celebrity world. Stars like David Beckham are rumored to have had hair transplant surgery.
But there are risks too, and it’s not something to be undertaken lightly.
It may be worth exploring your options around treating the phobia, rather than the baldness itself – and then you can just shave off whatever is left and embrace it.
Even if the old fears creep back in, you still have plenty of options if you end up regretting shaving your head.
There’s a lot of crossover in the different phobias related to baldness.
There are also a lot of different ways in which you could treat it if it’s something that you suffer from.
Unfortunately, phobias aren’t helped when you have associations with skinheads and Neo-Nazis. This naturally leads to thoughts of intimidation, hatred, and violent acts.
Just remember that most bald people are not to be feared.
If you’re bald, remember that most people aren’t scared of us. Those that are can’t help it and normally know it’s not a logical fear to have.