Does Bad Hair Mean Bad Health?
Is your hair trying to tell you something about your health? Maybe. Some conditions and medications affect your body as well as your hair. In other cases, you may just need to take better care of your hair or scalp. Use this pictorial guide to see what separates myth from fact when it comes to your health and your hair.
White Flakes Pose No Health Risk
Dandruff isn’t contagious. So how do you get it? Doctors aren’t sure, but one theory is that it may be due to an overgrowth of a fungus. Other possible triggers include skin that’s either too dry or too oily, shampooing either too often or not often enough, and having eczema or psoriasis. While it’s embarrassing – and the itching can be bothersome -- dandruff isn’t harmful.
Tips for Dandruff Treatment
To decrease the buildup of dandruff’s dead skin cells, try using an anti-dandruff shampoo daily. Leave shampoo on for 5 minutes, then rinse well. You may need to try several dandruff shampoos to find one that works best for you. If one stops working, try another. If that doesn’t help, call your doctor.
If the dandruff flakes you see are greasy and yellow, you may have seborrheic dermatitis. It’s an inflammatory skin condition that can occur where there are lots of oil glands, like the scalp and face. Though seborrheic dermatitis is related to hormones, fungus, and even some neurological problems, it’s treated the same as dandruff: with anti-dandruff shampoos. Severe cases may need a prescription steroid or antifungal medicine.
You May Shed More Than You Think
It’s not a perfect measure, but some experts estimate that we may shed up to 100 or more hairs a day. That’s not cause for alarm, nor does it mean you’re going bald. About 90% of your 100,000 hair follicles are growing at any given time. The other 10% are in a resting (telogen) phase, and the hair falls out after about 2 to 3 months. It’s replaced by new hair, and the growth cycle starts over again.
How Female-Pattern Baldness Happens
Hair loss in women tends to mean hair thinning all over the head. Unlike men, women rarely go bald, and they tend to lose hair more slowly than men do. Other myths: Longer hair won’t put a strain on the roots, causing more to fall out. Nor will shampooing pull hair out -- it just gets the ones that were falling out already. Women’s Rogaine (minoxidil) or prescription medications may help preserve hair.
Avoid Sun Damage to Hair
Too much sun can turn your hair into a brittle, dry mop that breaks and splits easily. And if you already have thinning hair, you risk a sunburn on your scalp. Choosing hair care products with sunscreen provides some protection, although it can be hard to coat your hair evenly. That’s why it’s a good idea to wear a hat when you’re out in the sun -- especially if your scalp is exposed.
Premature Gray Hair Is Genetic
Going gray isn’t always related to aging. If you’re not yet 40 and see more than a few gray hairs, chances are it runs in your family. Gray usually isn’t a sign of poor health, though anemia, thyroid issues, vitamin B12 deficiency, and vitiligo can cause premature graying. You can highlight or color hair to cover the gray, but beware: some people are sensitive to the dye’s chemicals. The result is an itchy, burning scalp.