When it comes to hair, most of us take ample care of it. Hair is the sign of beauty and it is the wish of most of the people to have beautiful and gorgeous hair. Very few people are aware of the fact hair also acts as a health barometer. It means the health of your hair and scalp give a clear indication of many different health problems.
This is why any kind of hair problem, be it hair fall, dandruff, gray hair or dry scalp is taken very seriously.
Here are 8 hair problems that indicate health problems.
Problem: Dry, limp and thin hair
Meaning: There are several factors that can cause dry and thin hair. Some of the common factors are use of hair dyes, hair blowers, and swimming in chlorinated water. But dry and limp hair with less body can also be an indicator of an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism. Other signs of hypothyroidism are fatigue, weight gain, slow heart rate, and feeling cold all the time.
If you are losing hair in excess and having some of the above symptoms, then you need to get your levels of thyroid hormone checked. The most common blood tests measure the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4.
Problem: Scaly patches on the scalp, especially at the hairline
Meaning: Formation of a thick crust on the scalp usually indicates psoriasis. This scalp problem is very different from dandruff as when suffering from psoriasis there will be a thickening, scab-like surface on the scalp. Psoriasis is a very common a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery, or red patches of skin. The patches range in size from small to large.
Psoriasis often occurs in concert with other autoimmune diseases like lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Also psoriasis increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and certain types of cancer, metabolic syndrome and obesity. There are many types of treatment that can help keep psoriasis under control. You can try some topical treatments, UV light therapy and systemic medications. Diet rich in vitamin D and vitamin A can also help a lot.
Problem: Thinning hair over the whole head
Hair experts consider it very normal to shed about 100 to 150 hairs a day. But when you notice hair fall more than this, then it is a matter of concern. Excessive hair fall can be due to excessive stress, high fever from the flu or an infection. Diabetes and thyroid disease can also cause more than normal hair fall. Even a number of medications also cause hair loss as a side effect.
In order to treat this kind of temporary hair loss, you will need to discontinue the medication or treat the underlying condition that’s causing the problem. It can also be very helpful to take supplemental biotin, which has been shown to strengthen and thicken hair.
Problem: Dry, brittle hair that breaks off easily
Dry and brittle hair that breaks easily typically indicates breakage rather than hair falling out from the follicle. One suffers from this kind of hair problem due to excessive usage of chemical based hair care products and chemical processing. Bleaching, straightening, and other chemical processing techniques make the hair shaft more fragile in nature leading to breakage.
There are also certain health conditions that can cause brittle and fragile hair. For instance the health condition called hyperparathyroidism can also cause dry, brittle hair. Even deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can also lead to dry and brittle hair. Limiting the use of heat and chemical treatments on your hair can help a lot to deal with this kind of hair problem. You can also deep condition your hair to restore it to its original health. Plus, taking fish oil supplements on regular basis can also nourish your hair.
Problem: Hair falling out in small, circular patches
Hair fall in small and circular patches is known as alopecia areata. This kind of hair fall usually occurs at the temples or at the part line. It can also cause the eyebrows or eyelashes to fall out. Diabetes can trigger the onset of such hair loss in some cases. Even those having a family history of rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease can also have this kind of hair problem.
The most common treatment to work against alopecia areata is cortisone shots that are delivered directly into the scalp in the spots where the hair is falling out. Oral forms of cortisone and topical cortisone creams are also available, but these are not as successful as cortisone shots.
Problem: Yellow flakes on the hair and itchy patches on the scalp
Having yellow flakes on the hair and an itchy scalp is a sign of seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory scalp problem. This kind of scalp problem is often confused with dandruff. So, you need to see a dermatologist to make sure it’s seborrheic dermatitis.
You can treat seborrheic dermatitis with different shampoos and creams that are available in the market. The most effective treatment for yeast overgrowth that usually causes seborrheic dermatitis is ketoconazole, a drug that works by damaging the fungal cell wall, killing the fungus. You can even either eat lots of fresh garlic or take a garlic supplement to treat this kind of hair problem.
Problem: Premature gray hair
Graying of hair is primarily influenced by genetics. However, vitamin B12 deficiency, neurofibromatosis (also called Von Recklinghausen’s disease), tuberous sclerosis, thyroid disease and vitiligo can be the reason behind gray hair. Some research also links premature graying to heart disease and low bone mass. Cigarette smoking can also cause premature graying.
At the same time, stress can also cause gray hair it triggers a chain reaction that affects the production of melanin, the pigment that colors hair. If you suspect stress is making your hair gray at a fast pace, you need to keep yourself stress free. Yoga and meditation, for example, are effective stress-management tools.
Problem: Overall hair loss leading to baldness
Meaning: Both women and men can suffer from complete hair loss that can cause baldness. Most often such kind of hair loss is hereditary, but certain types of diseases and other underlying conditions can cause this type of hair loss. For instance, diabetes, thyroid disease (both overactive and underactive thyroid) and autoimmune disease can cause or contribute to this type of hair loss. Even medications used to treat chronic health problems can contribute to hair loss.
If you think a medication is causing hair loss, talk to your doctor about an alternative medicine. Change in your diet plan can also help a lot. But if hair loss is due to hereditary reason, little can be done to restore the health of your hair.
To sum up, next time when you notice slight change in your hair texture or you are having some kind of hair problem, consult your doctor. Always remember that prevention is better than cure.
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