Your hair can tell you and your doctor if you are under stress, have a nutritional issue, have thyroid problems, or any other health issues. These are the seven things you should look out for in your hair. Your hair is probably something you think about every day. You might be worried about it, whether it’s a bad hair day or if your hair looks great with a stunning blow out. Or maybe you are wondering if you should try the latest style that your favorite celebrity has. You might not be aware of the signs your hair can reveal about your health. Research has shown that hair texture and thickness or other hair appearance changes can indicate underlying health conditions. How can you tell if your hair is changing because of a health condition, genetics, stress or nutritional deficiencies?
Stress (or Genes) can make you go grey
If you have ever watched the hair of a presidential candidate change from one campaign to the next, you know that stress can cause hair to turn grey. A study published in Nature on mice suggests that chronic stress could be responsible for greying hair by increasing DNA damage and decreasing the amount of pigment-producing cells in hair. Hair can also fall out due to stress.
Grey hair may also be caused by oxidative stress. Paradi Mirmirani MD, a dermatologist at The Permanente Medical Group, Vallejo, California, says that oxidative stress, which is caused by cell-damaging free radicals that inhibit the body’s repair process, may also affect pigment-producing cells.
Greying is a natural part of aging. Your hair follicles produce less colour as you age. Dr. Mirmirani says that your genes play a part in greying hair. Ask your parents when the first signs of silver appeared. A March 2016 study in Nature Communications identified the gene that causes grey hair.
Cushing’s Syndrome could be reflected in brittle hair
Cushing’s syndrome is a rare condition that is caused by excessive cortisol. Brittle hair is just one sign. Mirmirani says that Cushing’s syndrome can also manifest as high blood pressure, fatigue and back pain.
Cushing’s syndrome can be treated by changing the dosage of medications that are causing it, such as glucocorticoids. These steroids are used to treat inflammation from a range of diseases. Others may need surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy to reduce cortisol overproduction in their adrenal glands.
Thyroid Disease could cause hair thinning
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. People with hypothyroidism might experience increased hair loss and a change of hair appearance, Mirmirani says.
Hypothyroidism affects approximately 4.6 percent of Americans 12 years old and above. However, most cases are mild. Hypothyroidism can lead to thinning hair, fatigue, cold intolerance and muscle pain. It can also cause weight gain, puffy faces, joint pain. The condition can be diagnosed by a thyroid-stimulatinghormone (TSH) test. Treatment involves taking thyroid medication.
Alopecia areata is another condition that can also result in hair loss and thinning caused by thyroid disorders. This is caused when the immune system attacks the hair follicles.
Hair Loss could be an Indication of Anemia
You may notice an increase in hair dropped on your shower floor or in your hair brush. This could indicate low iron levels or anemia in your body system. Mirmirani says, “This is another blood test that we perform when you complain about hair changes.” Mirmirani says that she will order the blood test for vegetarians and women with heavy periods. These factors increase the likelihood of hair changes due to low iron.
Although it is not known exactly why low iron can lead to hair loss, iron is essential for many biological and chemical reactions. This may includes hair growth, according to Rebecca Baxt MD, a dermatologist in Paramus, New Jersey. She suggests that if your doctor says you have iron deficiencies, it is worth eating iron-rich foods or supplementing with iron.
Temporary hair shedding can also occur with abrupt changes in estrogen levels. This is commonly noticed after a pregnancy or after stopping birth control pills.
Hair Shredding could be due to protein deficiency
Hair growth and health are dependent on protein. A lack of protein can lead to hair loss and thinning. Mirmirani says that protein deficiency doesn’t affect most Americans. Most adults require 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight. Nonfat Greek yogurt, chicken breast, tilapia and chickpeas are good sources of protein.
Some people who have had a gastric bypass or have gastrointestinal problems may have difficulty digesting proteins. These special situations should be addressed with the help of your doctor. Genetics are likely to be the cause of most hair loss or hair thinning, even for women.
A yellow or white flake could be dandruff issues
Dandruff is a chronic scalp condition that causes yellow or white flakes to appear on your head, shoulders and eyebrows. It is not a sign of a serious condition and can be treated with either special over-the-counter shampoos or prescription shampoos.
According to the Mayo Clinic, seborrheic dermatologitis is one of the most common causes for dandruff. Seborrheic Dermatitis is characterized by reddened, oily skin that’s covered in flaky white or yellow scales. Malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that can irritate the scalp, is also possible. Dandruff can be caused by insufficient shampooing, dry skin, and sensitivity to hair products. Winter is when dandruff can be worse because of the drying effects of indoor heating.
Damaged Locks can also conceal other health problems
Mirmirani states that hair can be an indicator of your health. However, patients are more likely to complain about the damage done by heat-treating and colouring hair. Too much heat can cause hair to become dry, brittle and difficult to maintain. It is recommended that you only use one heat tool per day. However, it is okay to use double heat occasionally but not every day. It also advised to use products with heat protective ingredients whenever you apply heat on your hair. Serums and shine drop tend to have properties that preserve hair from direct and indirect heat.
It is not likely that your hair will be damaged by a professional colourist in the hair salon. However, getting your hair bleached at home or using a box dye may cause serious damage to your hair. You can minimize any hair damage by choosing the proper hair products. It is recommended that you employ the right products after a colour treatment.
What is most important is that highly treated locks can mask some issues and making it challenging for you to feel or see what is your hair telling you regards to your health.