Back to Africa Check

Beware, using onion on scalp could damage hair and doesn’t cure baldness

A Facebook post claims to give advice on how to get “thicker hair” and “cure baldness”. 

It claims that “onions are rich sources of sulfur, which is a building block of keratin. Hence, onions not only help prevent hair fall and breakage but also make your hair stronger and healthier”.

The post then gives instructions on how to make an onion juice and coconut oil mixture to apply to your hair and scalp

Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can affect the whole body, not just the head. If the hair on your head starts to thin and become patchy and it does not grow back, then you could become bald. 

Baldness is more common in men, but does also happen to women, and is usually hereditary.  

But is the cure for this condition being freely advertised on Facebook? 

Baldness_False

‘Many nonsense products advertised for hair loss’

Africa Check asked Dr Kevin Alexander, hair loss specialist and founder of Dr Alexander’s Hair Loss Clinic in Gauteng province, South Africa, about the claim. 

There is absolutely no clinical data to back up this claim so it is pure nonsense,” said Alexander. “Baldness is a very emotive human condition so people are easily persuaded to try every new gimmick on the market. When people want to believe in a cure, they will be prepared to try anything and that is why there are so many nonsense products advertised for hair loss.”

Elma Titus is a trichologist at the Trichology Center in Cape Town, South Africa. She said the claim was possibly made because onion juice “gives a burning sensation on the scalp, same as garlic or chili” and this could increase blood flow to the area. 

Titus said: “The hair root or papilla gets fed via the bloodstream. It is the bloodstream via the capillaries that brings nourishment to the roots.” 

Trichology is the branch of medicine that studies hair and its diseases and trichologists are experts at hair-related problems, though they are not medical doctors.

No cure for genetically inherited baldness

“No genetically inherited condition can be cured but certain of them, including pattern baldness, can be controlled. There are only a handful of prescription medicines which have ever been proven to reverse and control pattern balding and they are all prescription items which have been put through clinical trials,” said Alexander. 

He warned against following the advice in the claim: “I think it would be damaging to the keratin layer of your hair shaft to use onion juice on a regular basis on your hair and scalp."

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters