4 Things About Your Health Your Hair Might Be Telling You
Did you know that your hair can tell you a lot about your general health and well being? Most of us don’t pay much attention to our hair until we need it cut, colored or styled, and for a lot of us our hair appointments can be months apart. Many of us don’t think of our hair as a reflection of our health, but the truth is that it speaks VOLUMES. So we’ve put together this post to share with you four signs our hair may be giving us that we might not be as healthy as we think.
#1: Dry, limp, thin-feeling hair or hair that falls out from the roots
There are many environmental factors that can make our hair feel dry or cause it fall out from the roots, like exposure to hair coloring, pool chlorine, the heat from styling tools or even stress. Yet a major change in the texture of your hair may be a sign of a more serious health issues, such as an underactive thyroid, or deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, and in your diet.
It’s normal for us to shed about 100-150 hairs a day, but if you notice your hair coming out in clumps it’s usually stress that is the culprit; this could also happen if you have a high fever from the flu or some sort of infection. An imbalance of hormones like estrogen or testerone might also cause hair loss, and some diabetics could experience this as well. If your hair is falling out in patches might indicate that you have alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disease common among families that have a history of other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, early-onset diabetes, and thyroid disease.
Medications like oral contraceptives, lithium, depakote , tricyclic antidepressants, accutane (which some people use to treat acne), and anabolic steroids could also cause your hair to start falling or thinning out.
#2: Scaly or crusty patches on the scalp, often starting at the hairline
If a thick crust sometimes forms on your scalp, then you might have psoriasis. Psoriasis is the most common of all the autoimmune diseases, affecting nearly 7.5 million Americans, and occurs when the skin goes into overdrive and speeds up the turnover and growth of skin cells.
People who have other autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s diseas, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are much more likely to develop psoriasis, so ask your doctor to check for these if you’re diagnosed with psoriasis. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop a condition called psoriatic arthritis, which causes painful swelling of the joints, and some people may have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, certain types of cancer, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
#3: Dry, brittle hair that breaks off easily
If you’ve ever seen stray hairs on your pillow or bathroom floor, it’s probably due more to hair breakage than your hair falling out from its follicle. A lot of times breakage can be attributed to over-processed hair that’s been bleached, chemically straightened, or otherwise chemically processed. These processes can strip the cuticle and let chemicals into your hair folicles which, making the hair shaft fragile and easy to break.
But certain health conditions can also lead to breakage. One of these is Cushing’s syndrome, which is a disorder of the adrenal glands that causes excess production of the hormone cortisol. Another is known as hypoparathyroidism, which tends to be hereditary but can also be the result of an injury to the parathyroid glands during head and neck surgery. Or dry, britlle hair can simply be an indicate that you’re your diet is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. If that’s the case, count your blessings, and eat more salmon, fish oil, or nuts and seeds like flaxseed.
#4: Yellowish flakes on the hair and scaly, itchy patches on the scaps
Most of us grew up calling those white flakes that fall from our scalp “dandruff”. It was discovered recently, though, that dandruff is actually a more complicated interaction of health issues that should be taken seriously.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the scalp that causes skin to develop scaly patches, often in the areas where the scalp is oiliest. When the flaky skin loosens, it leaves the telltale “dandruff” flakes. People with seborrheic dermatitis usually also suffer from a fungal infection resulting from an overgrowth of yeast that naturally occurs on our scalps and skin. Known as Pityrosporum ovale, it takes advantage of skin already irritated by dermatitis and inflames it even further. The two disorders have a bit of a “chicken and egg” relationship, since experts aren’t really sure which of the two comes first, but some experts now believe that the yeast overgrowth may occur first and then sets off the dermatitis, but this has yet to be proven.
Your body can give you many signs as to how healthy you are, but the quality and health of your hair is one that many of us tend to overlook. If it’s stress or a poor diet that’s causing your bad hair days, now is the time to get back on track with eating a healthy balanced diet and workout routine! Cardiovascular fitness really does do a world of good for your circulation and mental well-being!
If you’re able to get back to a healthy lifestyle and still notice issues with your hair, it’s probably time for a trip to the doctor. Tell them what you’ve been experiencing and then ask their opinions on going the next step with lab testing or to be referred to a specialist such as a dermatologist. When in doubt, get yourself checked out!!And don’t forget, your hair really is a reflection of the HEALTHY YOU!!
Until next time, keep on moving!!
Elizabeth Salada MD
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