Hair and Health: What is Your Hair Telling You About Your Health?

All the time, our hair is trying to tell us more than which hairstyle is good for us, or how short we should cut it, or which color would be perfect. Cells in our body are interconnected and every cell can warn us when something goes wrong, and the same goes with hair cells.

While in most cases, we need to take better care of our hair or scalp, in other situations, hair can warn us that our immune system is weakened, as well. This way, the hair can tell us more about our health because some conditions and medical problems affect our body the same way they affect our hair.

In general, the health of the scalp can be a tip-off for various health conditions and changes in texture or thickness can be a sign of many conditions.

This is what you should know about our hair and health’s connection.


#1 Dry, thinning hair that sheds easily may indicate thyroid disease

It is normal to shed 100 to 150 hairs a day, but when you notice more hair in your hairbrush or on the towel, or when the hair starts coming out in clumps, it is time you check whether your thyroid is working effectively or not.

dry hair

People who suffer from thyroid disease called hypothyroidism might notice increased hair shedding, as well as cold intolerance, joint pain, muscle pain, and tiredness. Hypothyroidism is the most common cause of hair loss. A test (thyroid-stimulating hormone test) can diagnose the condition.

Other causes of hair shedding include a sudden physiological or physical stress and infection. There are reasons to believe that hair loss and hair thinning is an early sign of diabetes as well.

Medications can also cause hair loss, such as birth control pills, lithium and other medications used to treat depression. Protein deficiency and iron deficiency anemia can cause hair loss as well.

For hair, protein is essential, so if you lack protein, you need to consume it more. Rarely is protein deficiency the cause of hair loss and hair thinning; however, those who have gastrointestinal difficulties have problems with digesting protein.

To be sure, whether it is a temporary hair loss or not, check the tiny white bumps at the roots of the hair, their presence suggests it is temporary. If not, you need to check with your doctor.


#2 Hair shedding indicates iron deficiency

Lack of iron in the organism, or anemia, is a common cause of hair shedding. To be sure, do a blood test and check your iron levels, especially if you are a vegetarian or if you have heavy periods.

In these situations, hair shedding is probably due to a lack of iron. One more thing one can do is to include iron-rich food in diets, or iron supplements.

Sudden changes in estrogen levels can also cause hair shading, usually after pregnancy or stopping birth control pills.


#3 Gray hair is a sign of stress

This is a well-known fact, stress affects our whole body, and the common result is gray hair – oxidative stress affects pigment-producing cells.  However, genetics may influence the color of our hair, which will explain why some people have gray hair and others don’t.

gray hair

Scientists are not yet sure, but they believe that stress interferes with a chain reaction related to the hair follicle that transmits melanin, the pigment that colors hair.

If you suspect stress is giving way to grey hair, logically, you need to avoid the stressful situation and do everything you can to experience less stress or none at all.

Yoga and meditation are good stress-management tools.


#4 Yellow or white flakes and itchy scalp mean one has a chronic inflammatory condition – dandruff

Seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff is a chronic inflammatory condition, causing the skin to develop scaly patches, usually where the scalp is oiliest. Dandruff can be caused by an overgrowth of yeast present in our scalp and skin. This fungal infection damages the skin already irritated by dermatitis even more.

To be sure, whether it is a dry scalp or dermatitis, you need to know that dermatitis is usually seasonal, and it usually disappears in summer, but it may be triggered by stress.

First, you need to see a dermatologist make sure it’s seborrheic dermatitis. If it is, shampoos and creams can correct this condition, or use natural remedies as an alternative.


#5 Dry, patchy hair that breaks easily is a sign of Cushing Syndrome

Breakage of the hair may be a result of the chemical process of dying because of bleaching, straightening, and other chemical processes.

However, apart from high blood pressure, fatigue and back pain, brittle hair is also one of the symptoms of Cushing syndrome. This condition is a disorder of adrenal glands, which causes the excess production of cortisol.

Dry hair also means that your diet is lacking omega-3 fatty acids, and this reflects on your skin, making it dry and flaky as well.

To get healthy hair again, no matter what the cause of dry and brittle hair is, minimizing chemical treatments is the first thing to do.

If the hormones are causing the problems with both your skin and hair, consult with the doctor.

Hair oil can help restore hair’s flexibility, natural oils such as coconut or avocado.


#6 Hair falling in small patches indicates alopecia areata

When our hair is falling in small usually, circular patches, that is a message from your immune system. This is a kind of hair loss called alopecia areata, which can be caused by diabetes. This condition, which is an autoimmune condition, can also cause eyebrows and eyelashes to fall out. This and similar autoimmune conditions can be seen in families with a tendency toward other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease and early-onset diabetes.

hair loss

The treatment is usually cortisone shots delivered directly into the scalp. Topical cortisone and oral forms of cortisone are also available.

Next time you think that all your hair needs is a new haircut, think twice because your hair is always telling you something about your health, so try to read those messages properly.

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Last article update: 8/13/2019