While we are so focused on how long it will stay with us or how we can style it differently, it’s easy to forget what your hair says about your health. Changes in your hair’s look, texture, or thickness can be signs of underlying health conditions. Here’s how you can tell whether your hair changes are due to a health problem, genetics, stress, or a nutritional deficiency. If hair looks silky, it’s safe to say that it’s probably healthy. This shine we tend to see on healthy hair is the result of a smooth, flat-lying cuticle.
1. Stress Can Make You Go Gray
It’s no secret that long periods of high stress can result in a person forced to pull off the silver fox look a bit too prematurely. According to a study on mice in the journal Nature, chronic stress may indeed contribute to graying hair by causing DNA damage and reducing the supply of pigment-producing cells in hair follicles. Stress can also cause your hair to fall out.
Also known as Temporary Hair Loss, Telogen Effluvium can be a result of high stress. Telogen phase or the resting phase, which is also known as the shredding phase is a stage in the natural hair cycle. Essentially what occurs in this phase normally is that 90% of hair is in the growing phase while the other 10% is in the telogen/resting phase, waiting to fall out. In the case of TE, stress sends a large number of hair into the resting phase. Therefore more hair strands are forced into the resting phase than normal. These dormant hair strands would remain dormant for 2 to 3 months from the beginning of the underlying illness, and then starts to fall off.
2. Damaged Hair Can Hide Other Issues
If you’re one to aggressively blowdry your hair in the mornings or use a ton of hair products to keep your style in shape no matter what gets thrown at you today, you can bet that great hair won’t come without a cost. Heat damage can make straight hair appear dry and brittle. It can also exaggerate the appearance of split ends and make it harder for your hair to lie flat.
This isn’t to say that you should never continue to style your hair. It’s just a good idea to take extra steps to keep your hair healthy despite whatever heat tools and hair products you choose to use. The main issue here is highly treated hair may mask certain problems and make it difficult to see or feel what your hair can tell you about your health.
3. White or Yellow Flakes Could Mean You Have Dandruff
The question here would be if sleep could indirectly promote dandruff. Sleep deprivation can lead to stress, which in turn restricts blood circulation in the head. The lack of blood circulation in the scalp can make it vulnerable which inadvertently hampers the strength of your hair.
Because of this, your scalp becomes especially defenseless against fungal growth leading to an outbreak of dandruff. Also, as insufficient blood circulation restricts the supply of nutrients to the scalp, your dandruff condition can become much worse as a result.
4. Hair Loss Could Be A Sign Of Underlying Issues
- Protein Deficiency
If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, your body may ration protein by shutting down hair growth, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This can happen about two to three months after a drop in protein intake, they say. Moreover, incorporating the right vitamins into your diet will also play a large role in hair growth as well.
What to do: There are many great sources of protein, including fish, meat, and eggs. If you don’t eat meat or animal products, there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian protein sources.
- Thyroid Disease
Almost one in 10 women aged 20 through 49 suffers from anemia due to an iron deficiency (the most common type of anemia), which is an easily fixable cause of hair loss. Your doctor will have to do a blood test to determine for sure if you have this type of anemia. Hypothyroidism can be another cause.
Hypothyroidism is the medical term for having an underactive thyroid gland. This little gland located in your neck produces hormones that are critical to metabolism as well as growth and development and, when it’s not pumping out enough hormones, can contribute to hair loss. Your doctor can do tests to determine the real cause
If you’re suddenly noticing a lot more hair in your hairbrush or on your shower floor, this could be a sign that your body has low iron stores, or anemia, and may warrant testing. Two things that also increase the chance that the hair changes are due to low iron include those who are vegetarian or women who have heavy periods. This can be deemed by a blood test.