Isn’t it amazing how different parts of the human body are interconnected? When one part of the body is unhealthy, the body gives tell-tale signs all over the place. You’d be surprised by how much the health of your hair, for example, can tell you about your overall health. Here are 7 things that your hair and body connection can tell you about your health:
1. Dry hair
When your body doesn’t get enough proteins for optimal performance and health, your hair is likely to feel rough and dry. Your hair becomes parched and could even break when your body has a deficiency of vitamin B5, omega 3, and omega 6.
Parched hair doesn’t always mean your hair has a deficiency of nutrients. Women’s hair sometimes gets parched, dull, and brittle when pregnant or when they hit menopause. The hormonal imbalance that birth control pills precipitate could also be a reason for drying hair.
- If you live in an extremely hot or polluted area, your hair will get parched as a sign that you’re exposing yourself to too much sun and pollutants.
- Split ends and frizzing hair could be a sign of excess chlorine in the water, dehydration, or overuse of hair treatment chemicals.
- Dry and brittle hair might be an indication of more serious underlying issues such as anemia and hyperthyroidism.
2. Thinning or coarsening hair
Adina, a skincare expert and an owner of a top hair salon, describes the relationship between hair follicles and the thyroid hormone as critical. He says that because the thyroid hormone controls the generation of hair follicles, an increase in hair loss can be a tell-tale sign of hypothyroidism (decreasing levels of the thyroid hormone in the bloodstream). If you have patchy regions on the scalp, your hair is thinning or coarsening, or the hair breaks rather too often, you need to get tested for a possible underlying thyroid issue.
3. Greying prematurely
As we grow older, our hair follicles start producing less and less pigment and, as a consequence, our hair starts greying. If your hair starts greying when you’re well past your prime, there is no cause for alarm there. If you notice grey hairs well before your time, however, that could mean one of two things. One, check if there is a history of early greying in your family. Two, there is a chance that you’ve subjected your body to too much undue pressure and stress- mentally, physically, or both. The stressor could be anything from depression to physical illness. According to research, consistent stress can manipulate your DNA and incapacitate the cells responsible for producing black, brown, blonde, or red hair pigment. The higher the rate of greying, the higher the severity of your stress.
Note: Sometimes the greying isn’t noticeable until 3-6 months post the stressful period.
Other causes of premature greying include:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Prolonged use of chemotherapeutic drugs
- Copper and iron deficiency
4. Accelerated hair loss
It is normal to notice a few strands of hair in your hairbrush. If you, however, start noticing a lot of hair on your shower floor, in your bed, or in your hairbrush, your body might be telling you that your iron stores are running dry. Iron deficiency in your body can be a result of heavy & prolonged periods or going overboard with a vegetarian diet. It is not yet scientifically proven why and how iron deficiency accelerates hair loss. However, dermatologists quote the critical nature of iron in most biological and chemical processes in the human body as a non-scientific but logical explanation for the medical quagmire. The good thing is that you can easily reverse iron-caused hair shedding by taking iron supplements as well as eating more foods that are high in iron.
i. Hair loss could also be a sign of anemia, so you need to see a doctor and get tested just to rule out any serious medical issue.
ii. Temporary hair loss can be a result of sudden changes in your estrogen levels, notably after changing your birth control routine or after a pregnancy.
5. Nonhealing, crusty sores
These crusty sores come as a result of inflamed hair follicles mainly due to a bacterial or fungal infection. The condition is called Folliculitis. Early signs of this condition are itchy and sore white-headed pimples, pus-filled blisters, tender skin, or small red bumps around your hair follicles. The pimples can quickly advance into scars if not treated with an antibiotic or an antifungal medication. Folliculitis can also destroy hair follicles and cause permanent hair loss. Serious medical causes of folliculitis include diabetes, chronic leukemia, HIV/AIDS, or any other condition that jeopardizes your body’s ability to fight infections.
6. Finer, drier, and less shiny hair
Women mostly get this challenge when transitioning to new birth control pills; as their bodies try to respond to the hormonal changes that birth control precipitates. The changes may be more prevalent in women who dye their hair regularly. You may start getting underwhelming color job results when the hormonal changes kick in.
Note that changing birth control pills is also a known cause of hair thinning. For this reason, the American Hair Loss Association recommends non-hormonal birth control methods for women whose predisposition for genetic hair loss is stronger than normal.
If the skin on your scalp eyebrows, beard, or mustache is flaking, the common reason for that is dandruff. Mild dandruff is caused by irritated, oily skin, or dry skin. These causes are most prevalent in young and middle-aged adults, especially men. For senior citizens, dandruff can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease or any other health condition that can compromise your immune system or affect the nervous system. Other causes include contact dermatitis, psoriasis, Malassezia, and eczema. This problem is easily treated with the regular use of dandruff shampoo.
Unwanted hair changes can occur if you’re overusing your flat iron or shampoo. If you’re not doing any of that, your hair might be telling you that something is terribly wrong with your body. Everyone has their own unique set of problems mainly because of the uniqueness of our genetics, but sometimes our hair problems intersect at a common point. That is the point where you need to seek professional help. The ultimate goal is healthy hair- may you find workable answers on how to tackle your toughest hair woes!