Patron of women with hair loss June 05, 2016 00:00

Have you ever heard of St. Agnes of Rome? Apparently she is a patron of women who suffer from hair loss (Trueb 2009) . In fact, there are several saints that the faithful can call on to help with skin problems: St. Rose of Lima for rash, St. Charles Borromeo for ulcers. Burns have several saints associated with them: John the Evangelist, Florian and Laurence of Rome. There are even patrons for hairdressers and hair stylists: St. Cosmas and Damian, St. Louis IX, St. Martin de Porres and St. Mary Magdalen. Amazing, huh?

Agnes was born in 291 in a noble Roman family and raised as a Christian. In 304 (she was only 13!) prefect Sempronius dragged her naked through the streets to a brothel because she refused to marry his son. Sempronius sentenced her to death for this, however the Roman law did not allow execution of virgins. Apparently the girl’s hair grew and covered her body whilst she prayed during this ordeal. She was later beheaded.

Interestingly, a study showed that in women who complain of hair loss but have no obvious health problems (no alopecia) the hair shedding follows a cycle such that they enjoyed the thickest hair in the winter period that follows the feast day of St. Agnes of Rome (21st January(Kunz, Seifert et al. 2009). The greatest hair loss occurred in autumn. This seems out of sync with our fury friends, who start thinning their coats in spring so that they can stay cool in summer. The authors of the study speculate that protective head gear might contribute to this cycle.

Either way, the awareness of such pattern in the hair grow might help assess the effectiveness of treatments for hair loss.

 

 References: 

Kunz, M., B. Seifert, et al. (2009). "Seasonality of hair shedding in healthy women complaining of hair loss." Dermatology 219(2): 105-110.

Trueb, R. M. (2009). "St. Agnes of Rome: patron saint for women with hair loss?" Dermatology 219(2): 97-98.