What Your Hair Reveals About Your Health

Is your hair trying to tell you something about your health? Maybe. Research shows that changes in your hair’s look, texture, or thickness can be signs of underlying health conditions. In fact, your hair can provide great insight into your overall health and well-being, and it’s important to recognize the many different ways in which the hair on your head can reflect what’s happening inside your body. Read on this article to see what separates myth from fact when it comes to your health and your hair.


Dandruff pose no health risk

Dandruff isn’t contagious. So how do you get it? Doctors aren’t sure, but one theory is that it may be due to an overgrowth of a fungus. Other possible risk factors include oily skin, stress, obesity, cold, dry weather, and having eczema or psoriasis. Although it’s embarrassing – and the itching can be bothersome – dandruff isn’t harmful.

To decrease the buildup of dandruff’s dead skin cells, try using an antidandruff shampoo daily. Leave shampoo on for 5 minutes, then rinse well. You may need to try several dandruff shampoos to find one that works best for you. If one stops working, try another. If that doesn’t help, call your doctor.

Yellow dandruff

If the dandruff flakes you see are greasy and yellow, you may have seborrheic dermatitis. It’s an inflammatory skin condition that can occur where there are lots of oil glands, like the scalp and face. Though seborrheic dermatitis is related to hormones, fungus and even some neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease or HIV, these conditions are all treated the same as dandruff: with antidandruff shampoos.

You may shed more than you think

It’s not a perfect measure, but some experts estimate that we may shed up to 100 or more hairs a day. That’s not cause for alarm, nor does it mean you’re going bald. About 90% of your 100,000 hair follicles are producing hair at any given time. The other 10% are in a resting (telogen) phase, and the hair falls out after about 2 to 3 months. It’s replaced by new hair, and the growth cycle starts over again.

What causes telogen effluvium?

A shock to your system – surgery, vaccinations, giving birth, some medications, crash diets, severe stress, thyroid problems – can push hair into its resting, or telogen, state. About two months later, you may see hair falling out and thinning – a condition called telogen effluvium, sometimes described as hair “coming out in handfuls.” In most cases, new hair starts growing right away.

An attack on hair follicles

In alopecia areata, your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, causing hair to fall out – often suddenly. Most people will have one or two bald patches, which can be treated easily with injections but in some cases all body hair falls out. Alopecia areata isn’t harmful or contagious, but it can be tough psychologically. Hair may grow back on its own, and treatment may help it grow back more quickly. Unfortunately, some people may experience alopecia areata repeatedly.

Genes cause 90% of male hair loss

Though hereditary, the trait may be more influenced by your mother’s family than your father’s. So a look at your maternal grandfather’s locks may give you a better clue about the future of yours. Male pattern baldness often starts with receding hair at the temples, then on the crown, leaving a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the sides of the head. Medications to slow hair loss include finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine).

Female-pattern baldness

Age-related thinning may mean hair thinning all over the head, but pattern hair loss is usually most common on top of the head. Unlike men, women rarely go bald, and they tend to lose hair more slowly than men do. Contrary to popular belief, longer hair won’t put a strain on the roots, causing more to fall out. Nor will shampooing pull hair out – it just gets the ones that were falling out already. Minoxidil 5% applied once daily may help hair growth and prevent thinning. Spironolactone and Flutamide (oral medications) can also be used in women.

Avoid sun damage to hair

Too much sun can turn your hair into a brittle, dry mop that breaks and splits easily. This is especially true in those with blonde or grey hair. And if you already have thinning hair, you risk a sunburn on your scalp. Choosing hair care products with sunscreen provides some protection, although it can be hard to coat your hair evenly. That’s why it’s a good idea to wear a hat when you’re out in the sun – especially if your scalp is exposed. Choose a hat made of sun-protective fabric with UPF 30 (ultraviolet protection factor).

Luscious locks need nutrients

Could a crash diet cost you your hair? In extreme cases, it could. Your hair needs protein and iron to stay healthy, along with omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin A, but not too much – which can promote hair loss. Very low-calorie diets are often lacking in sufficient nutrients and can stunt hair growth or leave hair dull and limp. If the nutritional deficiency is big enough – like for someone with an eating disorder – hair can fall out.

A hair- and heart-healthy diet

Help keep hair shiny by eating salmon and walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids; spinach and carrots for vitamin A; Brazil nuts for selenium; and oysters and cashews for zinc. All help maintain scalp and hair health, as do low-fat dairy, whole grains, and vegetables. Double the results: Foods good for your hair are also good for your heart.

Premature gray hair is genetic

Going gray isn’t always related to aging. If you’re not yet 40 and see more than a few gray hairs, chances are it runs in your family. Gray usually isn’t a sign of poor health, though anemia, thyroid issues, vitamin B12 deficiency, and vitiligo can cause premature graying. You can highlight or color hair to cover the gray, but beware: Some people are sensitive to the chemicals in dyes. The result could be an itchy, burning scalp.

Over-styling weakens your hair

Blow drying, using a flat iron, coloring, bleaching, even over-brushing – all can damage the outer layer (cuticle) of your hair. When the inner core of hair is exposed, your locks become dry and dull. Although it doesn’t cause any permanent health damage, you can over-style to the point that your only option for healthy hair is to cut it off and start over. When it comes to your hair, doing less leads to healthier tresses.

 

 

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
Pinterest
Reddit
Delicious
LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

READ NEXT

6 Reasons You Have Bad Breath 

You shouldn’t ignore bad breath. What you eat and drink can cause halitosis. Foods are absorbed into your bloodstream and move to the lungs, affecting the air your exhale. Brushing

6 Bad Habits Doctors Want You to Break

Everyone has bad habits they want to break, but instead of scorning yourself for being helpless to break them, use the fundamentals of forming habits to your advantage. Habits, good

9 Common Skin Disorders You Should Know About

Just like any other disorder, skin conditions can be manifested by various symptoms that act differently from person to person, and their intensity can be mild or more severe, painless,

7 Diseases That Affect More Women Than Men

Due to variations in genes, anatomy, and hormone levels, some diseases attack women more often than men, and vice-versa. If you’re a woman, you should be aware of your increased

7 Medical Reasons for Brain Fog

Unable to gather your thoughts, confused, or forgetful? The conditions below may be why you have brain fog; try these strategies to clear your mind. Take inventory of your medications

10 Things You Had No Idea Were Bad for Your Mental Health

The term “mental health” is often used in reference to conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia. But actually, “mental health” refers to our overall emotional,

Check Out Why Too Much Sugar Is Bad for You

Sugar consumption is a major cause of many chronic diseases and obesity. Unfortunately, many people are tempted to consume processed foods for meals and snacks and since these products contain

8 Reasons You’re Always Cold 

Certain medical conditions can cause your hands and feet to always feel chilled. As anyone who has worked in a shared office space can tell you, people have different body

Common Habits to Have a Healthier Thyroid

According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition—and of those 20 million, a staggering 60 percent aren’t aware of it. The hormones that are

Natural Beauty Products Doctors Actually Recommend

Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara ($21) “This mascara adds volume without flaking or clumping. And it doesn’t irritate my eyes, thanks to its lightweight mineral pigments.” —Kimberly Snyder, a

6 Reasons Why You’re Over-Sweating After 40

As we already know, sweating happens after making physical efforts, being stressed or standing in the heat – but why does it happen after 40 years old? Well, menopause can

Scroll to Top