IF your head of hair is far from luscious, there might be offering some clues about your health.
Dandruff, early greying and thinning are often nuisances that aren’t causing any harm.
But sometimes, they are a warning flag that something is wrong – and often, treatable.
Severe stress, for example, can often wreak havoc on your locks.
Brenda Lee Intignano, of hair extension brand Clip Hair, reveals five symptoms affecting the scalp and what they could mean…
1. Hair loss
We’re not talking complete balding, but more hair shedding than normal and thinning.
“The average person sheds around 100 strands of hair when they wash it,” said Brenda.
But experts say if you notice more hair falling out when you wash or brush it, or on their pillow, it could signal telogen effluvium.
This condition is a temporary hair loss that can occur when a person experiences severe stress or trauma.
Brenda said: “The hair follicles encounter the telogen, otherwise known as the resting phase, of the growth cycle.
“Telogen effluvium sees that the hair stays in the resting phase, not entering the next phase. The hair then sheds, without new growth developing.
“Hormonal changes, events such as childbirth or persistent stress can lead to telogen effluvium. The condition can last several months and usually resolves itself without treatment.”
Underlying autoimmune disease may also be the driver of telogen effluvium, or virsues, such as Covid.
2. Dry locks
The goal is silky smooth locks, but sometimes various factors work against us and the hair dries out.
Brenda said “warmer months can lead to dryer strands of hair, that in turn, can lead to breakage” – so you might expect some drying over the summer.
“Other external factors can be the use of excessive heat, harsh shampoos, and lots of dying,” Brenda said.
However, dry hair that rapidly appears and leads to the hair becoming brittle may suggest a vitamin deficiency.
“Deficiencies in vitamin E, iron or vitamin C can all lead to brittle hair,” Brenda said.
“Vitamin E is essential for a healthy scalp as it aids in the production of sebum, without iron the hair follicles cannot fully function, and vitamin C ensures that the body produces sufficient collagen which is essential for healthy hair growth.”
Dry hair is one of the most common vitamin deficiency signs, along with dandruff and hair loss. Mouth ulcers, fatigue and irregular heart beats are also key red flags.
3. Early greying
You look in the mirror and spot another rogue, grey hair – but isn’t it well before your time?
Some people grey earlier than others due to family history.
But there might be a more simple explanation.
Brenda said: “Grey hair is often part of the ageing process as the hair follicles produce less pigment.
“Although genetics is a contributing factor to greying of the hair, stress can also play a role.
“Research shows that consistent stress can manipulate DNA, impacting the cells that produce pigment for the hair.
“As a result, grey hairs begin to appear. If you notice grey hair appearing at an accelerated rate, this may be the result of severe stress.”
Dandruff is normal and suffered by a huge number of people.
But sometimes the cause is something that needs more than just over-the-counter shampoos to fix.
Brenda said: “Dandruff is caused when the scalp sheds its cells at an accelerated rate.
“However, persistent flaking may not be dandruff, but psoriasis.”
Psoriasis, a long-term condition, will look like red, flaky, crusty and sore patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
On brown and black skin the patches can also look purple or dark brown, and the scales may look grey.
You might notice the patches on your elbows and knees, too.
Psoriasis can start at any age, but most often develops in adults between 20 and 30 years old and between 50 and 60 years old, the NHS says.
Brenda said: “The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood however, it’s thought that it’s the immune system fighting healthy cells by mistake. Genetics and environment play a role in the occurrence of psoriasis.
“Several over-the-counter medicines can remedy psoriasis. If the condition persists, medical shampoos and ointments can be prescribed.”
5. Split ends
“A strand of hair is 25 per cent water. If your body is dehydrated, your hair will feel (and show) its occurrence.
“When the body is dehydrated, it uses its much-needed water to help operate its critical organs.
“The body doesn’t consider hair critical, so will not direct its much-needed moisture its way.
“As a result, the hair will experience ongoing dryness, leading it to break and incur split ends.”
The experts said there is a simple fix – increasing your water intake.
Avoiding intense heat on the hair, such as straightening and curling tools, will also help with dryness.
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