What Your Hair and Scalp Say About Your Health

Posted on August 29, 2011

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Does “bad hair” mean bad health? Maybe. Some conditions and medications affect your body as well as your hair. In other cases, you may just need to take better care of your hair or scalp. Here’s a guide to separate myth from fact when it comes and your hair and hair loss.

 

Let’s begin with a common condition, dandruff. White flakes pose no health threat. Dandruff isn’t contagious, but doctors aren’t sure how you get it. One theory is it may be due to an overgrowth of a fungus, other possible risk factors include oily skin, stress, obesity, cold/dry weather and having eczema or psoriasis. Though it can be embarrassing and bothersome it isn’t harmful. Yellow dandruff? If it’s greasy and yellow you may have seborrheic dermatitis. It’s an inflammatory skin condition that can occur where there are lots of oil glands. Though it’s related to hormones, fungus, and neurological problems its treated the same as dandruff, but it some cases you may need a prescription for it.

So you’re brushing your hair and there’s a bunch of it collected on your brush. Don’t be alarmed, it’s not a perfect measure, but some experts estimate that we may shed up to 100 or more hairs a day. About 90% of your 100,000 hair follicles are producing hair at any given time. The other 10Z% are in a resting (telogen) phase, and the hair falls out after about 2 to 3 months, and gets replaced by new hair and the cycle continues.

What causes telogen effluvium? A shock to your system, surgery, giving birth, medications, crash diets etc. may cause hair into its resting (telogen) state. About two months later, you may see hair falling out or thinning this is telogen effluvium. In most cases it grows back within a few days.

Hair Attack

In alopecia areata, your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, causing hair to fall out all of the sudden. Most people will have one or two bald spots, but in some cases all the hair falls off. Alopecia areata isn’t harmful or contagious, but it can be tough psychologically. There is treatment for it.

Genes causes 90% of male hair loss. Though hereditary, the trait may be more influenced by your mother’s family than your fathers. So for a better clue about your hair future look into your maternal grandfather’s hair status. Male pattern baldness starts with receding hair line at the temples, then on the crown, leaving a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the side of the head. There are medications to slow down hair loss, talk to your doctor or specialist. 

Female pattern baldness tends to mean hair thinning all over the head. Unlike men, women rarely go bald and they tend to lose hair more slowly than men do. And contrary to popular belief, longer hair does not put strain on the roots, causing hair to fall out, nor will shampooing pull hair out it just gets the one that were falling out already.

Pulling hair to tight, for example braids pony tails can damage hair follicles and cause hair to break and fall out. Hair extensions and hairpieces can sometimes cause traction alopecia because there is extra weight pulling on existing hair, continuing of hair pulling will lead to premature hair loss.

Over styling weakens your hair. Blow drying, using a flat irons etc. All cause damage to the other outer layer (cuticles) of your hair. When the inner core of the hair is exposed, your locks become dry and dull. Although it doesn’t cause any permanent health damage, you can over style to the point that your only option for healthy hair is to cut it off and start over.

Of course medications can have side affects that contribute to hair loss such as anti-clotting drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, antidepressants, birth control and etc. Usually hair grows back when the medication is stopped, but may not in some cases.

 

The Solution?

There are many claims circulating the internet for solutions to hair loss, but there are a few that have proven legitimate and others lack credibility. Scalp massage feels good but there is no evidence that massaging your scalp will slow hair loss or improve any scalp condition but it can do wonders to relieve stress. Your scalp is covered with nerve endings that make it super sensitive to touch. Rubbing your scalp may help release tension. Massage may also trigger the release of feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

Avoid sun damage to hair. Too much sun can turn your hair into a brittle, dry mop that breaks and splits easily. And if you already suffer from thinning hair then you are at risk of sun burn on your scalp. So as a remedy use hair products with sunscreen or wear a cap when your scalp is being exposed.

Remember that in order to maintain healthy luscious locks you need to have a good diet. Your hair needs protein, iron along with omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamin A. Foods like salmon and walnuts will help give you those essential omega-3s. Vegetables like spinach and carrots will give you the vitamin A. Oysters can provide your zincs.

 

In all honesty, everything from shampoo to air pollution can affect hair loss. It is up to each individual to determine the potential cause of their hair loss and then find the most effective solution.

 

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