Curly, straight, frizzy, dyed, treated, thinning or buzzed, your locks often go through a lot every day to look their best. You’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on your hair (ladies, there’s no crime in hair vanity!) and it may take serious time to tame before you start your day.
The importance of your hair, though, is not just what’s on the outside. Your hair can also reveal a lot about what’s going on inside, too.
Here are some signs that you don’t want to ignore if they’re happening on your head. After all, when you take the time to care for your hair, you may as well take care of your insides as well.
1. Split Ends
Those ends of your strands that just don’t seem to want to stay together! You work so hard to get regular trims, and spend money on shampoos and conditioners that promise the end of split ends, yet this all seems to fail. The technical term for the splitting or fraying of the hair shaft is trichoptilosis, and the causes can be anywhere from thermal, mechanical or chemical stress (of curling irons, hair dryers, hair coloring, swimming pool chlorine) or, more concerning, a lack of protein or essential fatty acids within the body.
If you know your hair gets used and abused, that is probably your main reason for the split ends, but if you don’t put it through the ringer and find you’re always developing split ends, you may want to look into your diet.
Increasing your intake of meat and fish should bring up your protein levels and omega-3s to start keeping your ends healthy.
Does your hair just seem to break when you run your fingers or a comb through it? This can be an indication of a vitamin deficiency, in particular, iron, zinc or vitamin C. Other illnesses linked with dry or brittle hair are malnutrition, hypothyroidism and biotin deficiency. Worried your hair is telling you something?
Before jumping to the doctor’s office, try to remember how long your hair has been dry or brittle. When something is chronic, it’s more likely telling you about an underlining problem! If you’re still concerned, go check with your doctor. In the meantime, use any hair styling tool on a low to medium heat and try a conditioner that adds plenty of moisture to your hair.
3. Itchy Or Flaky Scalp
Do you steer clear from black clothing because of the constant itchiness of your scalp and telltale flakes on your shoulders? By pinpointing the cause, you can seek out appropriate treatment and go back with black.
There are a few different illnesses linked to an itchy scalp. Similar to the skin on your body, whatever can show up on your arms or legs, can also show up on your scalp. A few notable skin illnesses of the scalp are:
Seborrheic dermatitis (or seborrhea): a skin condition which causes redness, itching and flaking. This is what we call dandruff, and can be treated with over the counter shampoos or medicine.
Scalp psoriasis: This can be confused with dandruff because it offers similar symptoms, producing raised, reddish and often scaly patches. The difference? Scalp psoriasis is actually the immune system creating too many skin cells too quickly, so they build up as patches
Eczema: Although there is no sure cause of eczema, it causes itchiness and flaking. The treatment for eczema requires a prescription steroid cream which can offer relief from the itchiness. Consider only wetting your scalp every other day or on an alternating schedule; daily routines can dry out the skin even further and aggravate your symptoms. Lukewarm water, too, instead of hot water is less drying, and be gentle with a fine-tooth comb for combing out flakes after shampooing.
Dry and flaky scalp can also be linked with HIV and Parkinson’s.
4. Thinning Hair Or Hair Loss
Is your hair not as full or bouncy anymore? Does it seem as though you’re loosing more than what’s growing in? Is your re-growth more fine and limp than what was originally there? For men and women alike this could be a frightening time to say good-bye to your strands. But when does it become alarming?
The American Academy of Dermatology estimates during a washing, you can lose up to 250 strands and throughout your regular day, 50 to 100 strands may come out. These are considered average and not alarming.
So when does it become a problem? For starters, if the number of strands exceeds these numbers, that’s your first place for concern. Although you probably aren’t sitting and counting the strands, those with thinning hair will notice large amounts on their pillow or in their comb after brushing. The feel of their hair will become finer and lose its body and volume. Another sign is noticing where the hair is coming out. For women, this usually starts at the top of the head toward the back.
To diagnose the root cause of thinning hair and hair loss, doctors may check your blood work and seek out any thyroid issues or an underlining autoimmune disease. Another culprit of thinning hair is also hereditary. Look to those in your family for clues if thinning hair is solely affecting you, or if it runs in your family. Whatever the cause may be, it is not normal to lose large amounts, and therefore this should always be examined by a doctor.
Hair may be overworked with products, heat and styling. It’s important to not only take care of it for appearance’s sake, but to not ignore signs of any changes. Those indicators can reveal a gateway into your health and should not be overlooked with a toss of your head and shrug of the shoulders.
Go beyond the regular trims and washing, and eat well, exercise and give your locks a break now and then from excess heat and styling – to look and feel your best.