Body hair: Some of us despise it, others spend countless dollars maintaining it, and there’s also a group who let it simply do its thing.
Whatever your feelings are towards it, there’s no denying that body hair can offer us insight into our health.
Instead of simply thinking about body hair as a nuisance, use any changes spotted in your body hair to ensure you are as healthy as can be. Here are some signs of health that our body hair reveals.
What body hair says about our health
Iron deficiency or hypothyroidism: You may notice there are times throughout the year when your hair falls out more than others; unless you noticed significant thinness this is actually a normal process for our hair. However, when hair loss becomes significant – both on your body and head – this can indicate an iron deficiency or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
A simple blood test will be able to better confirm diagnosis, but in the case of a thyroid problem you may notice hair loss occurs on the outside brow and you may develop ridges on your fingernails.
Hormone imbalance: Hormones start to change right after we are born and continue to change through puberty and even pre- and post-menopause. Women, in particular, who develop hair in unusual spots – face or chin – may have an increase in testosterone, generally considered a male hormone. The condition is called hirsutism and it involves male-pattern hair growth in women. This can be seen above the belly button, on the upper chest and by having more than eight hairs around the nipple.
On the other hand, women can experience male-pattern baldness as a result of decreased estrogen. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned a change in hormones is the cause of your hair growth or baldness.
It reveals your ethnicity: Hair thickness and the amount of hair on your body can reveal your genetics. Different ethnicities have ‘norms’ when it comes to hair growth. On one hand, Asians typically have less terminal hair – long, coarse hairs commonly found in eye brows – whereas Hispanics and Middle Eastern people have more.
You could have an autoimmune disorder: Autoimmune disorders are when the immune system begins to attack its own healthy cells. This can lead to damage and inflammation and are typically life-long. Some examples of autoimmune disorders are Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
When the immune system attacks hair follicles it’s called alopecia. There are different kinds of alopecia ranging from losing circular spots of hair, to going completely bald. Although there isn’t a cure, there are treatments available to promote hair growth.
Our body has many ways to tell us there is something going wrong inside of us, but it’s up to you to take note. If you begin to notice changes to your hair, anywhere on your body, speak with your doctor who can run tests and come up with a diagnosis.