Your hair is important to you for a couple of reasons. It’s a part of what makes you who you are, but it also holds important information about your health. The appearance of your hair may indicate some underlying health problems — here are 15 things your hair might be trying to tell you.
Your hair could signal thyroid problems. | ChesiireCat/iStock/Getty Images
1. It could signal a thyroid disorder
Thyroid disorders aren’t always easy to spot, but hair loss can be a big signal. Your thyroid controls your body’s hormones, and when it doesn’t function properly, it shows itself with symptoms such as fatigue, weight fluctuation, and hair loss. A simple blood test will tell you whether your thyroid is acting up. The good news is that there are medications that will help your thyroid function normally, which will stop that hair loss in its tracks.
2. You might have a hormone imbalance
Your hair might be telling you about a hormone problem. | :Manuel-F-O/Getty Images
Your thyroid controls your hormones, but you don’t necessarily need to have a thyroid problem in order for there to be a hormone imbalance. For instance, the body sometimes has a testosterone sensitivity, and as a result, less hair grows on your head and more hair grows on your body. There are certain medications that can reverse this, but it’s best started when you’re young.
3. You may be too stressed
If your stressed, your hair will know it. | Amazingmikael/iStock/Getty Images
If you’ve noticed gray hairs or hairs falling out, it could be related to stress. Telogen effluvium is the medical term for losing hair due to some type of life event, such as trauma or stress on your body. If you notice hair falling out in chunks rather than a steady decline in hair growth, it’s likely due to telogen effluvium. Certain events, such as having a baby or getting in an accident, can trigger telogen effluvium.
4. It’s a sign of anemia
An iron deficiency will show through in your hair. | Zneb076/iStock/Getty Images
Your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin. When you have anemia, you’re not getting enough iron. And if the body can’t produce hemoglobin, your cells won’t function normally — and that includes the cells responsible for hair growth. This results in gradual hair loss; it won’t fall out in chunks, but rather over time. A blood test can tell if you’re low on iron, and it can be treated with iron supplements. The hair loss shouldn’t be permanent.
5. You may have a mental health disorder
Your hair might signal a mental health disorder. | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images
The way your hair looks, and the way you interact with it, could both signal a mental health disorder. Anxiety causes the body to be in a high-stress state for unwarranted reasons, which could contribute to gray hair or temporary hair loss. And if you find yourself constantly pulling your hair out, it could be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder or something similar. If you notice a change in hair that you think may be related to your mental health, talk to a professional.
6. You’re spending too much time in the sun
Your hair might be getting too much sun. | Digital Vision/Getty Images
If your hair looks dull and weak, it could be due to sun exposure. While UV rays can make your hair look more golden, which is a positive to some, overexposure can dry your strands and make hair very brittle. If you have dark hair, your hair will be a bit more protected. But those with light hair should avoid too much exposure to sunlight, since it can lead to unwanted hair damage.
7. You might have a protein deficiency
If you’re not getting enough protein, your hair will tell you. | Rimma_Bondarenko/Getty Images
Protein plays a major role in hair growth. If you’ve noticed your hair looking thinner lately, you might have a protein deficiency. Your body needs protein for many reasons, and it considers hair growth to be the least important. If you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, the body uses it elsewhere, which leaves the hair suffering. You should be getting anywhere from 46 to 56 grams of protein daily, depending on your specific body type. Your doctor may ask you about your diet to figure out whether protein intake could be a problem.
8. You’re reacting to certain medications
You may be having a bad reaction to medicine. | Artisteer/iStock/Getty Images
Medications are meant to help, but in doing so, they can cause harm in other ways. Hair loss could be a sign that your body is reacting negatively to a certain medication. Discuss your medications with your doctor and check their side effects. There could be an alternative medication that might not give you the same reaction. But hair loss due to medicine is usually temporary.
9. You could have an infection
Ringworm can cause hair loss on the head. | bankrx/Getty Images
Certain infections, such as ringworm, can cause hair loss at the infection site. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause hair loss if it develops on the scalp. If you notice a patch of hair loss and an abnormality in the skin, it could be ringworm. Folliculitis is another infection that can result in inflamed follicles and hair loss. Treatment for folliculitis should be sought quickly to prevent as much hair loss as possible.
10. It could mean you have Cushing’s syndrome
Woman blow dries her hair. | Youngoldman/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus
Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the body produces too much cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. In women, hair loss on the scalp is a common symptom of the disease, but it’s usually accompanied by other symptoms. Weight fluctuation, increased acne, and purple stretch marks are other signs of the disease. It’s normally in response to steroids being used to treat another disease, so lessening those steroids should help the body go back to normal.
11. You could have a skin condition
Your hair might show dandruff, which is a dry scalp condition. | Pimonpim/iStock/Getty Images
Skin problems, such as dandruff or psoriasis, often show themselves on the scalp. Dandruff occurs when flakes of skin come off of the scalp and settle into the hair. It’s very common, yet some find it embarrassing. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is a chronic disease where skin cells grow too quickly, which causes red patches to form on the skin. Both conditions can occur on the scalp, which may affect your hair.
12. You’re consuming too much vitamin A
Too much vitamin A could cause a problem. | Valentina_G/iStock/Getty Images
Vitamins are essential for proper bodily function, but too much of a good thing can sometimes become a bad thing. The right amount of vitamin A can aid in hair growth and work positively for your hair. But too much of it (more than 10,000 IU per day), can actually do the opposite. Vitamin A toxicity can lead to hair loss and other problems, such as dry skin and dry eyes. Too little vitamin A is also bad for your hair. A blood test will tell you whether or not your vitamin A levels are in a good place.
13. Your diet needs to be switched
Your hair can say a lot about your diet. | Mizina/iStock/Getty Images
If you’ve noticed your hair lacks shine, is thinner than usual, or seems weak, your diet could be playing a big role. The foods you eat give your body everything it needs to function, so a diet heavy in fast food means you’re not getting the essential nutrients your hair needs to look and feel its best. If there isn’t any medical reason why your hair looks different, try switching up your diet to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and protein to see if that helps the situation.
14. If your hair is falling out, you may just have poor genetics
Your hair may be due to genetics. | David Sacks/Getty Images
Hair loss at an early age is something nobody wants to deal with, but it could be based on genetics. If the men or women in your family all seem to lose their hair at an early age, then you may have just picked a short straw when it comes to genetics. There are things you can do about it, such as topical Rogaine or trying a new shampoo. You may want to visit a dermatologist to see what options are best for you.
15. Your hair color can point to your eye health
Your hair color may say something about your eye health. | Denis_prof/iStock/Getty Images
Believe it or not, your hair may say something about your eye health. Those with blonde hair and blue eyes produce less melanin, a protective pigment, than those with brown hair and brown eyes do. This means that your hair color could increase your risk of macular degeneration, the degenerative eye disease. Regardless of hair color, always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful rays.
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