By Maggie Ameno
We all have good and bad hair days. The bad hair days, however, could be a more important signal than just needing a haircut or a shower.
Your hair actually gives you cues to your holistic health, and it can indicate a larger, internal health issue.
Just like anything else with your body, it’s important for your health to pay attention to any sudden changes. Sudden changes are usually linked to a treatable hair health issue.
Jennifer Powers, M.D., and assistant professor of medicine in dermatology at Vanderbilt University, says that people care a lot about their hair as a medical condition.
“If it [the change] lasts for more than a year, the likelihood of it being a hair disease is increased,” Powers says.
It is important to distinguish between a hair disorder, rather than a physiological adjustment with age. As you get older, just like other parts of your body, your hair will change.
The most common hair change that happens among college-age and young adults is after someone switches birth control. It can range from a change in texture to hair loss.
“You can see changes in hair many months after switching from one to another,” says Powers.
This is treatable through an adjustment in birth control, which should be made by your gynecologist.
More rarely, you see hair loss among people who have autoimmune diseases like lupus.
“There are usually other symptoms first, so they come to us with a diagnosis already,” she says.
Your nutrition also plays an important role in hair health. Powers encourages her patients to eat whole foods, vegetables, and anything with a good source of vitamins.
If any of your vitamin levels are low, it can affect your hair growth, she says. Low vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin D, or zinc levels will cause your hair to not grow optimally.
While nutrition may be important, the truth of the matter is that most young people can eat whatever they want and not experience any major issues with hair growth.
“It [hair loss or change] is physiological in most people,” Powers says. You are more likely to experience hair changes with age, rather than poor nutrition as a young adult.
One vitamin that really does promote hair growth is biotin. Powers says she gives biotin to people suffering from hair loss.
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Hair loss, thinning or change can also be a sign of is thyroid disease or anemia, low red blood cells or other hormonal problems.
However, you can lose 100 hairs a day normally.
“Many people get concerned, because they are shedding a lot, sometimes it’s normal, sometimes it’s not,” she says.
If you are concerned that something is not normal, it is important to visit your dermatologist.
“We definitely see a lot of hair patients in dermatology,” she says.
The interesting thing about hair is you get to learn about people’s hair practices and what they do for hair care, she says.
“We get to ask a lot of questions, not just internal but external hair care,” Powers says. “It’s definitely a chance to study the inside and outside of a patient.”