6 Things Your Hair Says About Your Health

You probably think about your hair on a daily basis — fretting over a bad hair day or enjoying a nice blowout, or maybe wondering whether to try out the new style you noticed on your favorite celebrity. But you might be missing 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. 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 6 key things to look for in your locks.

1. Stress Can Make You Go Gray

Anyone who has watched presidential hair change from campaign to campaign has noticed that stress seems to make hair turn gray, and a study on mice published in the journal Nature 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. 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,” says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist with The Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, California.

2. Brittle Hair Could Be A Sign of 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. 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.