What Hair Can Say About Someone’s Health

What your hair says about your health. You probably think about your hair on a daily basis. While many of us only focus on the aesthetic… Rina - May 12, 2020

What your hair says about your health. You probably think about your hair on a daily basis. While many of us only focus on the aesthetic pleasure of having flowing shiny locks, the fact is that dull, limp strands, or hair loss, can sometimes indicate a health issue. Are you missing the clues that your hair is revealing about your health? Research shows that changes in your hair’s look, texture, or thickness can be signs of underlying health conditions. Here’s how you can tell whether your hair changes are due to a health problem, genetics, stress, or a nutritional deficiency.

If hair looks silky, it’s safe to say that it’s probably healthy. That shiny, and sought-after texture is the result of a smooth, flat-lying cuticle. The cuticle is our shingle-shaped outer layer that has the job of protecting a sponge-like shaft beneath and does its best work when its “shingles” are sitting tightly overlapped on top of the cuticle. This causes the cuticle to reflect light, and your hair looks oh-so-shiny.

getting a hair cut. Freepik

1. What only your hairdresser and your doctor know

Shiny hair with a smooth texture and clean-cut ends or tapered tips are generally perceived to be healthy. Hair texture and shine relate to hair surface properties, whereas the integrity of hair ends relates to the hair cortex. We usually think that the condition of our hair depends on the way we take care of it and on external factors. Your hair can let you and your doctor know whether you’re stressed, have a nutritional deficiency, a thyroid problem, or other health issues. Here are seven key things to look for in your locks.

Image via Freepik

Research shows that changes in your hair’s look, texture, or thickness can be signs of underlying health conditions. The state of your health, stress or worry, dieting, sleep patterns, pregnancies, menstrual cycle, long and short term illnesses, fevers, and very importantly, the drugs, vitamins, and minerals your take to counteract them all, every one of these can affect your hair. Hair is incredibly sensitive to internal changes.

Bouncy curls. Freepik

2. Good Elasticity.

Healthy hair has a high level of elasticity, and this is what gives hair its body, bounce, and texture formation. If it stretches a bit and then returns to its natural state, you have normal elasticity. If it stretches more than usual and then breaks, or feels limp and mushy between your fingers, then it needs protein. When you achieve that gorgeous bouncy style that lasts all day, you have your hair’s great elasticity to thank.

Image via Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa

It’s the quality that holds curl and makes all your hairstyle ambitions, voluminous blowouts to tight curls, a possibility. Elasticity is the measure of your hair’s strength and having poor elasticity can lead to excess breakage-and frizz. To check elasticity, start with wet hair. Take a strand, and stretch ever so slightly. If the strand bounces back into place when you let go, you’re in great shape.

A few strands. Freepik

3. Shed A Few Strands Daily.

Hair grows in cycles and each follicle has a growth stage that can last from two to eight years. After that time, the strand falls out and a new hair grows. For most people with healthy hair, that means that 80-90% of their hair is growing at one time and that they can expect to lose up to 125 hairs each day. Regularly losing more than that can be a sign of a dermatological issue or other health problem; you should consult a doctor.

Image via Freepik

According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, it’s normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. Since there are 100,000 hair follicles or more on each person’s scalp, the loss of 100 or so hair strands a day doesn’t make a big difference in appearance. Excessive daily hair shedding (which is known as telogen effluvium) is not reliant on having a genetic predisposition, it occurs as the result of an internal imbalance or upset, such as a nutritional deficiency, severe stress, crash dieting or an illness.

Long soft hair. Pixabay

4. Detangles Easily.

There are lots of reasons why hair gets tangled: the texture, the length, the condition and health of your hair, the weather, and how often you brush. Superfine hair knots up so easily you can do it in your sleep. Fine hair tangles easily when worn long. These tangles can cause hair breakage and be painful to remove when brushing and styling your hair. Wind, sleeping and sports activities all contribute to fine hair tangles, and it often seems impossible to prevent this from happening.

Image via Shutterstock

The smooth surface of a closed healthy cuticle makes it easier to brush through. When the cuticle is raised and unhealthy, hairs tend to get caught on one another and start to form tangles. The rough texture of the hair’s outer layer makes it much more difficult to separate each strand, and when it does separate easily you know your hair is doing well.

Different textures of hair. Shutterstock

5. A Little Moisture Doesn’t Make You Frizz.

Frizz occurs when water penetrates the sponge-like shaft below, which can happen more easily when the cuticle is damaged and lifted. When the cuticle is lying flat and tight to the shaft, it’s harder for moisture to break that barrier and be absorbed.

Image via Shutterstock

Frizz is mostly caused by a lack of moisture in your hair or humidity and excess moisture in the air. Another common cause of frizz is dry hair or damage. Since naturally curly or wavy hair has the tendency to be dry, the hair frizzes at the first sign of moisture. Healthy hair isn’t as reactive to moisture in the atmosphere

Long strong hair. Unsplash

6. Minimum Breakage.

Excess breakage is a sign of unhealthy hair. When tresses are overworked and over-exposed, they become brittle and easily break off leaving rough raw ends all over. Check tresses around your face to see how your hair stacks up as those pieces usually endure the most heat styling and acquire the most damage. If you’re hard-pressed to find much breakage there; congratulations, you’ve got very healthy hair!

Image via Freepik

Common causes of hair breakage can include styling and over-brushing. Products that people use for coloring, perming, or relaxing the hair contain chemicals that can weaken the hair and make it more likely to break. Even some shampoos can cause the hair to break, become brittle, or turn frizzy.

Young woman is very upset because of hair loss. Freepik

7. Could indicate a health issue.

We usually think that the condition of our hair depends on the way we take care of it and on external factors. However, it appears that our hair, together with various symptoms, becomes an indicator revealing that something’s wrong with how our body is working. Your hair can let you and your doctor know whether you’re stressed, have a nutritional deficiency, a thyroid problem, or other health issues.

Image via Freepik

Research shows that changes in your hair’s look, texture, or thickness can be signs of underlying health conditions. The best time to see a hair loss doctor is when you notice any of the early signs of balding. If your hairline is slowly receding or you notice a lot of hair falling out when you shampoo or comb your hair, it’s probably a good time to take action.

thyroid disorder. Freepik

8. It could signal a thyroid disorder

Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This might cause you to notice increased hair shedding and a change in hair appearance. About 4.6 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 and older have hypothyroidism, although most cases are mild. It can cause thinning hair and other symptoms, such as tiredness, cold intolerance, joint pain, muscle pain, a puffy face, and weight gain.

Image via Shutterstock

A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test will diagnose the condition, and treatment entails taking thyroid medication. In addition to thinning hair, certain thyroid disorders put you at risk for an autoimmune hair-loss condition called alopecia areata. This type of hair loss causes round patches of sudden hair loss and is caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles.

A woman shaving. Unsplash

9. You might have a hormone imbalance

Any increase or decrease in the body’s hormones can directly influence your body’s function. You may experience radical changes in hair texture during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. The thyroid gland can cause your hair to become brittle and dried during menopause. Optimal levels of estrogen help to grow full thick hair, while low estrogen levels lead to thin and stalled hair growth, which eventually leads to hair loss.

Image via Shutterstock

The largest decline in estrogen levels is during menopause. Estrogen is secreted through the ovaries and adrenal glands. Hormones can affect your hair in a variety of ways. In most cases, hormonal changes lead to unwanted changes to your hair. For instance, hormonal imbalances, such as a decrease in estrogen, may lead to hair loss. Too much testosterone can also lead to thinning hair on your head, but increased facial hair.

stressed woman. Image via Freepik

10. You may be too stressed

STRESS is a common trigger of hair problems.”The same stressful event can bring about different reactions in different people,” trichologist Maria Mazengarb, of Trichology Technology in Victoria, says. “At worst, it can cause hair loss, or it might trigger oiliness by increasing steroid production in the body.” The good news is that, in most cases, when the stress lifts, the hair returns to normal a few months later.

Image via Shutterstock

A natural part of aging is graying hair, as your hair follicles produce less color as you get older. Your genes also play a role in when your hair turns gray. Another type of stress, known as oxidative stress, may also play a role in gray hair. Oxidative stress (when cell-damaging free radicals inhibit the body’s repair processes) may affect pigment-producing cells. A study on mice published in the Nature publication suggested that chronic stress may indeed contribute to graying hair by causing DNA damage and reducing the supply of pigment-producing cells in hair follicles. Stress can also cause your hair to fall out.

Anemia. Image via Freepik

11. It’s a sign of anemia

If you’re suddenly noticing a lot more hair in your hairbrush or on your shower floor, this could be a sign that your body has low iron stores or anemia. This is a common blood test that is done when you complain of hair changes. Especially for people who are vegetarian or for women who have heavy periods, both of which increase the chance that hair changes are due to low iron.

Image via Shutterstock

It’s not completely known why low iron can cause hair loss, but iron is critical for many biological and chemical reactions, perhaps including hair growth. If your doctor determines that you are iron deficient, eating more foods that are high in iron, or taking an iron supplement, might help with hair loss as well. Hair shedding can also happen (temporarily) with sudden changes in estrogen levels and is often noticed after pregnancy or stopping birth control pills.

woman with messy hair. Image via Freepik

12. You may have a mental health disorder

Hair loss caused by mental health issues can in most cases be treated. The underlying problem of hair loss for most mental health issues is stress. Stress-related hair loss, in most cases, stops its growth phase during a stressful period and lie dormant, causing the hair to shed. Hair loss (alopecia) is a common dermatological condition that affects men and women of all ages.

Image via Freepik

Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts are increased among alopecia patients. Depression and hair loss are linked and those suffering from depression can notice that hair can become dry, brittle and can break easily. The physiological states of depression such as low mood, discouragement, low self-esteem and feeling drained can be a factor in reducing the hair growth phase, leading to hair loss.

Long hair in the sunlight. Image via Freepik

13. You’re spending too much time in the sun

Sunlight allows your body to produce Vitamin D and this, in turn, stimulates the growth of your hair and prevents hair loss. Get out a little more and let your body receive the vitamins it needs to give you healthy skin and hair. Revel in the sun’s light and embrace its warmth. However, if your hair has prolonged exposure to the sun, UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle.

Image via Shutterstock

Signs of sun damage to your hair include discoloration, dry and brittle strands, broken or split ends, thinning and frizziness. Damaged hair has a dry look and feel. Sun radiation penetrates the cortex, causing loss of moisture and reduced hair elasticity. The outcome is weakened protein bonds and increased likelihood of hair breakage. Color fading: A smooth hair cuticle reflects light and prevents UV rays from penetrating the pigment-containing inner cortex.

Image via Hepsaglik

14. It could mean you have Cushing’s syndrome

Brittle hair is one symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, which is a rare condition caused by too much cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. But, notes Mirmirani, there are many other more obvious symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, including high blood pressure, fatigue, and back pain.

Brittle hair. Image via Shutterstock

Treatment for Cushing’s syndrome may include changing the dose of medication that could be causing the condition, such as glucocorticoids, which are steroids used to treat inflammation caused by a variety of illnesses. Other people might need surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to correct the adrenal gland’s overproduction of cortisol.

Image via WebMD

15. You might have a protein deficiency

Protein is essential for hair health and growth. Whereas a lack of protein has been linked to hair thinning and hair loss. Protein deficiency isn’t a problem for most Americans, most adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Good sources of protein include nonfat Greek yogurt, tilapia, chickpeas, and chicken breast.

Image via Freepik

People who have gastrointestinal difficulties or who just had gastric bypass surgery may have problems digesting protein. These specialized situations will have to be managed with your doctor’s help. However, most hair thinning, even in women, is likely due to genetics.

Image via Shutterstock

16. You’re reacting to certain medications

Drugs may cause hair loss, stimulate hair growth, or induce changes in the hair shape and color. Drug-induced hair loss is, in most cases, a consequence of a toxic effect of the drug on the hair matrix. They cause hair loss by interfering with the normal cycle of scalp hair growth. Medications can lead to two types of hair loss: telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium.

Telogen effluvium. Image via Shutterstock

Telogen effluvium is the most common form of drug-induced hair loss. It usually appears within 2 to 4 months after taking the drug. Hair loss from medication usually ceases once people stop taking the medication. However, it is vital to speak to a doctor before stopping a drug, even if it is causing hair loss. Once a person has ceased the medication, hair can take up to 6 months to grow back.

Hair loss in secondary syphilis stage. Shutterstock

17. You could have an infection

A number of infections and illnesses can lead to hair loss. An infection that causes a high fever, a fungal skin infection and bacterial infections like syphilis can all be responsible for balding or thinning hair. Treating the underlying infection can restore hair growth and prevent future hair loss.

Image via Shutterstock

Certain infections, such as ringworm, can cause hair loss at the injection 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.

folliculitis. Image via Shutterstock

18. You could have a skin condition

Painful sores, blisters, or bumps that develop on the scalp may be caused by: Infection of the hair shafts (folliculitis) or the skin (such as impetigo). An allergic skin reaction (contact dermatitis). Viral infections, such as chickenpox and shingles. Folliculitis is a skin condition that isn’t life-threatening, but it can be itchy, sore and annoying. If left untreated, you can end up with hair loss and severe scarring. If you have sensitive skin, simple friction and rubbing can cause the folliculitis rash. Folliculitis may include red skin, tenderness, and pus-filled sores.

Seborrheic dermatitis. Image via Shuttertock

In the initial stages, folliculitis may look like a rash, a patch of small red bumps, or yellow- or white-tipped pimples. Over time, this can spread to nearby hair follicles and progress to crusty sores. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition that causes red, itchy, and flaky skin. This rash often occurs on the scalp or near the hairline. In adults with seborrheic dermatitis, stress or other triggers may cause symptoms to reoccur frequently. Identifying and managing these triggers can help prevent flares.

Hypervitaminosis A. Image via Shutterstock

19. You’re consuming too much vitamin A

Hypervitaminosis A, or vitamin A toxicity, occurs when you have too much vitamin A in your body. This condition may be acute or chronic. Chronic toxicity can lead to liver damage and increased pressure on your brain. Hypervitaminosis A can be diagnosed using blood tests to check your vitamin A levels. As vitamin A is fat-soluble, the body stores more of it than other vitamins that are water-soluble.

Image via Freepik

Too much vitamin A can cause your hair follicles to reach the end of the growth phase at a much quicker pace, causing them to fall out faster than the body can replace the hair. The most effective way to treat this condition is to stop taking high-dose vitamin A supplements. Most people make a full recovery within a few weeks. Any complications that occurred from the excess vitamin A, such as kidney or liver damage, will be treated independently.

Image via Shutterstock

20. Your diet needs to be switched

When you don’t get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs from your diet, it can cause a loss of hair. For instance, too little protein in your diet can damage healthy hair, and inhibit your body’s ability to build new hair follicles. Food heaving in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, and white rice contain a high glycemic index, which can break down sugars quickly and cause inflammation.

hydrogenated oils. Image via Alibaba

High-fat, fried foods often contain hydrogenated oils that may contribute to hair loss. Like any other part of the body or component of health, hair needs a variety of nutrients to grow and be healthy. Because nutrients go first to essential tissues first, like muscles and organs, before they go to hair, it’s important to get both enough and a variety of nutrients to ensure a healthy head of hair.

Hereditary-pattern baldness. Image via Shutterstock

21. If your hair is falling out, it may be genetic

Hereditary-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss. Hereditary-pattern baldness is not really a disease, but a natural condition caused by some combination of genetics, hormone levels, and the aging process. Almost all men and women will notice hair loss or hair thinning as they age. The androgen receptor is on the X chromosome, which is why some people propagate the myth that male-pattern baldness comes from the mother’s side of the family (a male inherits the X chromosome from mom, the Y chromosome from dad).

Image via Freepik

Hereditary hair loss is most common in men but also occurs in women; for every five men with the condition, three women are also affected. For normal hereditary hair loss, there is no cure as such but treatment may help slow or halt the hair loss. Early treatment works the best, to prevent further loss. This simple test measures the severity of hair loss. During a pull test, a dermatologist grasps small sections of hair, about 40 strands, from different parts of the scalp and gently tugs. If six or more strands fall out, you have what’s known as active hair loss.

Blonde hair and blue eyes. Unsplash

22. Your hair color can point to your eye health

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.

Image via Shutterstock

As for greying hair – While gray hair feels coarse and rough, the structure of the strand hasn’t actually changed. When those melanin-producing cells run out of steam, the hair follicles also produce less sebum (the natural oils that hydrate hair). As a result, gray hair tends to be drier, which gives it that wiry texture.

Image via Shutterstock

23. Not getting enough sleep

Insufficient amounts of sleep have been shown to have significant negative consequences on the body, which can lead directly and indirectly to conditions of hair loss and thinning hair. The lack of sleep can result in higher levels of stress which is shown to cause hair loss. Your body produces a hormone called melatonin. This hormone helps your body regulate your sleep cycle, and it also has been shown to increase hair growth. Sleep deprivation can eventually lead to stress, and stress has been known to result in telogen effluvium hair loss.

Image via Shutterstock

Can lack of sleep cause dandruff? Sleep deprivation can lead to stress, which in turn restricts blood circulation in the head. The lack of blood circulation in the scalp can make it vulnerable which inadvertently hampers the strength of your hair. Because of this, your scalp becomes especially defenseless against fungal growth leading to an outbreak of dandruff. Also, as insufficient blood circulation restricts the supply of nutrients to the scalp, your dandruff condition can become much worse as a result.

dental issue. Image via Shutterstock

24. May indicate a dental issue

There is a close relationship between infection outbreaks on teeth and the presence of alopecia areata or localized alopecia, a type of hair loss that has an unknown origin. Alopecia areata starts with bald patches on the scalp, and sometimes elsewhere on the body. The disease occurs in males and females of all ages, and experts believe that it affects 1 out of 1000 people.

Image via Shutterstock

Research by professors José Antonio Gil Montoya and Antonio Cutando Soriano, of the Department of Stomatology of the University of Granada, advises going to the dentist when patients notice localized hair loss, in order to receive a careful examination of their oral health. “Alopecia areata is a kind of dermatitis which presents the following signs: The typical pattern is for one or more round bald patches to appear on the scalp, in the beard, or in the eyebrows, or to undergo a loss of eyelashes. Alopecia areata is thought to be an auto-immune disease”

redhead woman with flying curly hair. Image via Freepik

25. Hair Personality

Our personality is one of those things that your hair can reveal about you. Your crown of hair is one of the first things that people notice about you when you meet. What is your hair telling other people about you? Long, short, curly or purple, hair says a lot about your personality. Curly and wavy hair means you are fun-loving, that is why a person with curly hair is often not taken very seriously.

Image via Shutterstock

Yet those with thick and wavy hair are considered creative, while thick hair alone shows you have strong will power. Usually, low-maintenance hair is perceived as a sign of a creative personality, especially if we’re discussing wavy hair. However, sociology experts claim that curly-haired women are more fun-loving, while the straight-haired are more serious and responsible.

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:


What Does Your Hair Reveal About Your Personality?