4 common hair issues that could be symptoms other health concerns, according to the experts

Just like eyes can be the window into the soul, hair can be a window into your health. While having a good hair day is tied into vanity, it can also suggest that your vitamin and mineral levels are all in balance, along with a strong immune system and metabolism. Greying early, losing clumps of hair or simply finding strands dull and unruly could be a sign that something else is going on, and can signal to you to reach out to a doctor. Not sure what’s up? We spoke to the pros to find out how to know.

1. Premature greying

When you’ll start to go grey is usually determined by genetics, and it isn’t necessarily a sign that anything is wrong. But if you start to grey in your 20s, it could be too early. “Premature greying could be a sign of vitiligo or leukoderma, hypothyroidism and in some cases even Vitamin B12 deficiencies,” informs Dr Satish Bhatia, dermatologist and cutaneous surgeon. He suggests getting Vitamin levels checked, as well as exploring other correlations, like smoking and tobacco use.

2. Dull, damaged strands

Heat styling and dye can cause damage to hair, leaving it looking frazzled and dry. But if you’ve used hair masks and laid off the heat tools, dry and dull hair could be a sign of a poor diet, or hypothyroidism. “Cuticle is the hair’s outermost protective layer. On healthy hair, these cells will lie smooth and flat,” says Dr Bhatia. This is the reason for hair to reflect light, and appear smooth and shiny. “If your diet lacks Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, you can see it in your strands being brittle.” It’s not just deficiencies, including too much Vitamin A in your diet and supplement intake can also cause dull, breakage-prone strands. “Dull and dehydrated hair is also an obvious giveaway of iron deficiencies or anaemia,” he says.

3. Thinning hair

Dr Rigvita Yadav, senior consultant trichologist at Tricia Hair Clinic, Jean-Claude Biguine India explains that ‘miniaturisation’ is the hormone-driven biological process in which strands shrink in size over time resulting in decrease in hair volume. She adds, “In genetically-susceptible hair follicles, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can cause the hair follicle to shrink in size, resulting in production of thinner and weaker hair.”

“This kind of hair loss is mostly mediated by male hormone testosterone, and called androgenic alopecia. While it can affect both men and women, it is the cause of the common “baldness” in men. In women it is seen as broadening of the partition of the scalp, recession of the hairline or formation of the notches in the sides of the hairline. It can be seen as a genetic problem in women, however a substantial number of females don’t have a family history and they should be investigated for PCOS and ovarian tumours,” informs Dr Chaturvedi.

4. Diffused hair fall

Telogen effluvium is by far the most common form of hair loss seen. In dramatic cases, it can result in a 25 per cent hair loss, points out Dr Chaturvedi. If you’re seeing hair shed in clumps, it could relate to hormonal or gut issues. “This is when a patient will complain that whenever they wash their hair, they can see large chunks falling out,” says Dr Bhatia. Doctors say that you can see this stress-related hair fall after a definable precipitating event, which could include trauma, or illnesses like typhoid or malaria. Another important cause? An imbalanced diet. “Crash diets, high protein diets that don’t include carbs, or eating lots of processed foods can cause stress-induced hair fall,” says Dr Yadav about the inflammatory foods that put pressure on the digestive and immune system.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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