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A Guide To Double Crowns: What Are They?

    Quick Summary of Double Crowns

    • Double Crowns: A double crown, or double whorl, is a unique hair growth pattern where two distinct hair whorls are present on the scalp. This occurs more commonly in Afro-Caribbean populations and about 5% of Caucasians.
    • Causes: The exact cause of double crowns is largely genetic, with hair growth patterns determined during foetal development.
    • Myths: Double crowns do not predict baldness, intelligence, or the gender of future siblings.
    • Managing Double Crowns: Effective hairstyling techniques to manage double crowns include longer hair, strategic parting, updos, braids, and using specific hair products. Consulting with a hairstylist or hair specialists can help you find the best approach.
    • Hair Loss Concerns: While double crowns do not cause hair loss, they may make thinning areas appear more noticeable, particularly in conditions such as androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium.
    • Treatment Options: Treatments for thinning and balding areas to reduce how noticeable your crowns are include topical minoxidil, prescription medications like finasteride, hair transplant surgery, low-level laser therapy (LLLT), and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.
    • Lifestyle Tips: Reducing stress and maintaining a balanced diet can help support healthier hair growth.

    Have you ever noticed someone’s hair swirling in two distinct patterns on the crown of their head? This is a phenomenon known as a “double crown”, or a “double whorl”.
    Double crowns are a unique hair growth pattern that affects a small percentage of the population. Let’s delve deeper and explore what double crowns are, what causes them, and some of the myths surrounding them.

    What is a Double Crown?

    The crown of your head refers to the highest point at the top. This area is also known as the vertex. Most people have one hair whorl on their crown, which is a central point where hair grows in a circular pattern. A double crown occurs when there are two distinct whorls present on the scalp, often with a small patch of hairless skin in between. These whorls can be clockwise, counterclockwise, or even a combination of both.

    double spiral crown hair transplant before and after
    This gentleman has a double crown- with both whorls/ spirals very close to each other at the 6 o’clock position in his crown. He had hair transplant surgery to restore both spirals, before surgery (top) after surgery (bottom)

    While not a very common occurrence, double crowns are estimated to affect around 5% of Caucasians, with a higher prevalence among Afro-Caribbean populations1. In terms of direction, a 2004 study involving 500 male participants revealed that 75% had hair whorls that occurred in a clockwise pattern, while 11% exhibited counter-clockwise patterns2.

    single crown example
    Single crown example, with hair growing from a single whorl/ spiral at the 6 o’clock position in this patient. He underwent hair transplant surgery to thicken his crown too. Before surgery (left) after surgery (right)

    What Causes Double Crowns?

    The exact cause of double crowns remains a bit of a mystery. However, genetics are believed to play a major role. Hair growth patterns are determined during foetal development and influenced by genes. So, if someone in your family has a double crown, you might be more likely to have one as well3,. More recent genetic studies have identified specific loci associated with hair whorl direction, further supporting the genetic basis of these patterns4.

    Myths and Misconceptions

    There are several myths surrounding double crowns. Here’s a breakdown of some common ones:

    • A Sign of Baldness: Having a double crown doesn’t necessarily predict future baldness. While the crown is a common area for hair loss, the two whorls themselves are not a sign of it.
    • An Indicator of Intelligence: There is no scientific evidence to support the notion that double crowns are linked to higher intelligence.
    • Gender Prediction: A persistent myth claims that a double crown on a baby boy predicts a girl for the next pregnancy. This is simply not true, and hair whorl patterns have no bearing on a baby’s sex.

    Managing and Styling a Double Crown

    Having a double crown is a natural hair growth variation and doesn’t require any specific care. However, some people might find the appearance of two whorls unappealing or difficult to style. Thankfully, there are several ways to approach this:

    • Hairstyles: Hairstylists can be your allies in working with your double crown. Here are some options to consider:
      • Longer hair: Letting your hair grow longer can help disguise the whorls by allowing hair to fall naturally and cover the crown area. Adding layers can also create movement and texture, further camouflaging the double crown.
      • Strategic parting: A well-placed part can effectively minimise the appearance of double crowns. Experiment with a side part that falls opposite one of the whorls, or try a deep centre part that creates a more balanced look.
      • Updos and braids: Updos like buns or ponytails positioned strategically can hide double crowns. Braids, particularly intricate cornrows, or French braids can also be a stylish way to manage double crowns while adding a unique touch.
      • Embrace the whorls: Some people choose to celebrate their double crowns as a unique feature. Short haircuts with textured styles can highlight the whorls in an interesting way.
    • Hair products: Certain hair products can help manage double crowns. Styling creams or gels can be used to smooth down hair and minimise the separation between the whorls. Hairspray can also be helpful for keeping flyaways in check and maintaining your desired style.

    Ultimately, the best approach to living with a double crown depends on your personal preferences and hair type. Consult with a hairstylist who can assess your hair and recommend styles that flatter your features and minimise the appearance of the double crown, or even incorporate it into a signature look.

    Double Crowns and Hair Loss

    While double crowns themselves do not cause hair loss, the unique growth pattern can sometimes create the appearance of thinning hair or bald spots, especially if hair loss occurs in other areas of the scalp. This can be particularly concerning for individuals who are already predisposed to conditions such as:

    • Androgenetic Alopecia: Androgenetic alopecia is a common form of hair loss that affects both men and women. It is characterised by a gradual thinning of hair, often starting at the temples or crown. For individuals with a double crown, this pattern can exacerbate the appearance of hair loss, as the naturally occurring whorls may make thinning areas more noticeable5.
    • Telogen Effluvium: Telogen effluvium is a condition where hair enters the resting phase prematurely and falls out. This condition is often triggered by stress, hormonal changes, or nutritional deficiencies and can cause diffuse thinning across the scalp, making a double crown more prominent6.

    Treatment Options for Hair Loss in Double Crowns

    Addressing hair loss in individuals with double crowns involves a combination of general hair loss treatments. Consulting with a GP, dermatologist, or our clinic is advisable in order to receive a tailored treatment plan. Here are some potential treatment approaches:

    • Topical treatments: Products containing Minoxidil (Regaine) can help stimulate hair growth. Minoxidil potentially widens tiny blood vessels in the scalp, which improves blood flow to hair follicles. This process revives and extends the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle, shortens the telogen (resting) phase, stimulates hair follicle activity, increases follicle size, and boosts the production of crucial growth factors for hair development7.
    • Prescription medications: Drugs like Finasteride are used for treating pattern baldness by blocking hormones that trigger hair loss. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone that is derived from testosterone. In people with androgenic alopecia, too much DHT causes hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop growing back. Finasteride works by indirectly blocking DHT. By reducing DHT levels, Finasteride can help to prevent the process of hair loss and promote hair regrowth8.
    • Hair Transplant: Hair transplant surgery is a preferable option to individuals looking for permanent solutions. Surgery can be targeted specifically to areas of hair loss, unlike prescription medications. The procedure involves harvesting hair follicles from a donor area (usually the back of the scalp) and transplanting them to the thinning or bald areas like the crown or hairline. Two main techniques are used: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Both methods have high success rates and can produce natural-looking results9.
    • Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT): A non-invasive treatment that uses red light wavelengths to stimulate hair growth. This therapy enhances cell metabolism and improves blood circulation in the scalp, promoting the growth of thicker and healthier hair. LLLT can be administered through various devices, such as laser combs, helmets, or caps and is suitable for individuals with double crowns experiencing hair thinning10.
    • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP therapy involves extracting a small amount of a patient’s blood, processing it to concentrate the platelets, and injecting the platelet-rich blood back into the scalp. Platelets contain growth factors that can help stimulate hair follicle activity and promote hair regrowth, making it a promising treatment for hair loss in areas affected by double crowns11.
    • Healthy Lifestyle: Lifestyle changes such as reducing stress and ensuring a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can all contribute to healthier hair growth.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, double crowns are a fascinating variation in hair growth, with a touch of mystery surrounding their exact cause. While genetics likely play a role, more research is needed to fully understand their origins. The good news is that having a double crown is simply a natural quirk, and doesn’t affect your health. Embrace your unique hair pattern or explore the many hairstyling options available to camouflage or incorporate your double crown into a look you’ll love.
    Rock your double crown with confidence!

    References

    1. Wunderlich, R. C. and Heerema, N. A. (1975) ‘Hair crown patterns of human newborns’, Clinical Pediatrics, 14(11), pp. 1045–1049. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/000992287501401111
    2. Plikus, M. and Chuong, C. M. (2004) ‘Making waves with hairs’, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 122(4). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378646/
    3. Brewster, E. T. (1925) ‘The inheritance of double crown’, Journal of Heredity, 16(9), pp. 345–346. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.jhered.a102632
    4. Luo, J., Huang, H., Qiao, H., Tan, J., Chen, W. and Zhang, M. (2023) ‘GWAS identify genetic loci associated with human scalp hair whorl direction’, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 143(10). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2023.04.008
    5. Androgenetic alopecia: MedlinePlus Genetics (2023) [Internet]. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/androgenetic-alopecia/
    6. Hughes, E. C. (2023) Telogen effluvium. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848/
    7. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., and Leerunyakul, K. (2019) ‘Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review’, Drug design, development and therapy, 13, pp.2777–2786. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S214907 
    8. McClellan, K. J., & Markham, A. (1999) ‘Finasteride’, Drugs, 57(1), 111–126. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2165/00003495-199957010-00014
    9. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Hair transplants. Available at:  https://www.asds.net/skin-experts/skin-treatments/hair-transplants
    10. Avci, P., Gupta, G. K., Clark, J., Wikonkal, N. and Hamblin, M. R. (2014) ‘Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss’, Lasers in surgery and medicine, 46(2), pp. 144–151. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/lsm.22170
    11. Paichitrojjana, A. and Paichitrojjana, A. (2022) ‘Platelet-rich plasma and its use in hair regrowth: A review’, Drug Design, Development and Therapy, 16, pp. 635–645. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S356858

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