The Correlation Between Hair and Health

– by Farah Merani – 
HairbrushDryer

Hair is more than just superficial body covering, whether on your face or body (both wanted and unwanted). It can be a good indicator of what may be going on inside your body, in the same way that your nails can. Common hair problems like dryness and brittleness, dandruff, and hair loss can offer up hints at health conditions related to deficiencies in nutrients and essential vitamins in the body.

brittleHair

Over-treating, blow-drying and flat-ironing is a common cause of brittle hair.

Is your hair dry, brittle, dull or breaking?

There are a couple of reasons for this, the most common being over-treating and heating the hair by the use of hair dryers, flat irons, too much sun exposure, dyeing and chemical processes. These all damage the surface of the hair shaft, or the cuticle layer. Another possibility is a lack of protein in the diet or moisture in the hair. Omega 3 fatty acids, commonly found in salmon, flaxseed or fish oil supplements, are crucial for maintaining strong, healthy and shiny hair. Certain medical conditions that negatively affect hormone levels in the body, such as Cushing’s syndrome, can also contribute to brittleness and breakage. Low levels of the parathyroid hormone causes a reduction in calcium, an important mineral for strong hair and nails, and an increase in phosphorous which weakens the strands.

 

balding

Hair loss should not be confused with thinning hair.

Are you losing your hair or is it limp and thin?

Hair loss should not be confused with thinning hair. The latter occurs when the texture and structure of the hair strands change, while the former is the loss of the actual hair strand from the root. We all lose about 100-150 hairs a day, which varies depending a person’s stress levels, illness, pregnancy, eating disorders, and also a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, if you’re consistently losing clumps of hair all at once, it’s time to consult your physician, as it could be a sign of Diabetes. Thinning hair is often an indication of Hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid. It is also one of the most common side effects of certain medications, including the Birth Control Pill and anti-depressants.

 

dandruff

An itchy scalp could mean dandruff, eczema or psoriasis.

What’s your scalp like?

Dandruff, eczema and psoriasis all affect the scalp and cause the skin to become dry, itchy and to flake. Certain shampoos made specifically for these condition can help to manage the symptoms superficially, but the root causes differ (pun intended). As such, if you find yourself chronically itching, your best bet is to go see your doctor so that you start treating the right condition. For instance, dandruff is not simply a dry scalp; it is a chronic inflammatory condition of the scalp. Psoriasis, on the other hand, causes a thick crust to form on the scalp, most often along the hairline.