You probably think about your hair in some capacity every day, even if it’s just wondering whether or not your hair got messed up on the ride to work.
What you might not think about, however, is what your hair is saying about your health. Subtle changes to the appearance of your hair could indicate that you have an underlying health problem. Or, sometimes, a change in appearance just means you need to develop a better hair care routine or change the type of shampoo you’re using.
Here is what your hair could be trying to tell you about your health.
Dry hair means you need more healthy fats
Sometimes, lack of moisture in the hair during the winter months can result in dry hair. But if you noticed that your hair is dry all year long, you may need to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet. Dry hair is dull, brittle, and more prone to damage. To nourish your hair, try incorporating healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon into your diet. You can also try applying coconut oil directly to your hair.
Brittle hair could be caused by an iron or zinc deficiency
Brittle hair could also be a sign of iron and/or zinc deficiency. Zinc and iron are both needed for keratin production. If you aren’t producing enough keratin, your hair will begin to change in structure, making it feel brittle. You can choose to take iron and zinc in the form of supplements. Or, you could also adjust your diet to include food that is high in iron and zinc, such as lean red meat and lentils.
Premature graying caused by stress
Going gray is a natural part of aging. But if you notice yourself going gray before the rest of your friends, it could be because you’re experiencing chronic stress. Chronic stress reduces the pigment-producing cells in your hair follicles, resulting in graying hair. Chronic stress can also cause your hair to start falling out. Of course, your genetics also play a role in when you go gray. Most people start going gray around the same time their parents did.
Shedding hair could indicate anemia
Everyone experiences some hair shedding when they brush or wash their hair. But if you notice an increase of hair in your brush, you could be struggling with anemia. Anemia means your blood lacks healthy blood cells. You may notice yourself growing easily fatigued, struggling with headaches, and experience gradual hair loss. With anemia, your hair doesn’t fall out in chunks, but instead gradually falls out. You will likely need to start taking vitamins and/or dietary supplements.
Thyroid problems can result in thin hair
While there are rituals for hair growth out there that can help your thin hair grow, remember that thin hair could be a sign of an underlying thyroid problem. Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes symptoms such as tiredness, weight gain, muscle pain, thin hair, and patches of hair loss. The easiest way to diagnose a thyroid condition is to get your doctor to perform a blood test. There are medications that will allow your thyroid to function normally.
Dry scalp causes dandruff
While dandruff is unpleasant and itchy, usually it is just a sign of a dry scalp or a negative reaction to a hair product. Dandruff causes flakes of white or yellow skin to appear in your hair. If dandruff is accompanied by inflammation of the scalp, it is known as seborrhoeic dermatitis. Most of the time, all you do is switch your shampoo. There are OTC shampoos that treat dandruff. If dandruff is persistent, chat with your doctor.
Patches of hair loss could mean you have ringworm
If you notice that you’re losing hair from only a few specific areas of your head, you could be struggling with ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaly patches. If on the scalp, it will also cause bald patches. Ringworm can be treated at home using an antifungal shampoo. If you’re trying to treat the ringworm at home, and it hasn’t gone away after two weeks, you will need to visit your doctor for prescription medication.
Your hair can say a lot about your health! So next time you notice unusual changes in your hair’s appearance, consider whether or not you could have an underlying medical condition. If in doubt, always consult your doctor. Your doctor will confirm whether you have a medical condition or will refer you to a specialist.