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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 risk factors include oily skin, stress, obesity, cold, dry weather, and having eczema or psoriasis. Although it’s embarrassing — and the itching can be bothersome — dandruff isn’t harmful.

Tips for dandruff treatment
To decrease the build-up of dandruff’s dead skin cells, try using an anti-dandruff shampoo daily.

Leave shampoo on for five 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.

Yellow dandruff?
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 anti-fungal 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 producing hair at any given time.

The other 10% are in a resting (telogen) phase and the hair falls out after about two to three months. It’s replaced by new hair and the growth cycle starts over again.

What causes telogen effluvium?
A shock to your system — surgery, giving birth, some medications, crash diets, severe stress, thyroid problems — can push hair into its resting, or telogen state.

About two months later, you may see hair falling out and thinning — a condition called telogen effluvium, sometimes described as hair “coming out in handfuls.” In most cases, new hair starts growing right away.

An attack on hair follicles
In alopecia areata, your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, causing hair to fall out — often suddenly. Most people will have one or two bald patches, but in some cases all body hair falls out. Alopecia areata isn’t harmful or contagious, but it can be tough psychologically.

Hair may grow back on its own and treatment may help it grow back more quickly. Unfortunately, some people may experience alopecia areata repeatedly.
Genes cause 90% of male hair loss.

Though hereditary, the trait may be more influenced by your mother’s family than your father’s. So a look at your maternal grandfather’s locks may give you a better clue about the future of yours.

Male pattern baldness often starts with receding hair at the temples, then on the crown, leaving a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the sides of the head. Medications to slow hair loss include Rogaine (minoxidil) and PropPremature 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 colour hair to cover the gray, but beware; some people are sensitive to the dye chemicals. The result could be an itchy, burning scalp.

Overstyling weakens your hair
Blow drying, using a flat iron, colouring, bleaching, even over-brushing — all can damage the outer layer (cuticle) of your hair.

When the inner core of hair is exposed, your locks become dry and dull. Although it doesn’t cause any permanent health damage, you can overstyle to the point that your only option for healthy hair is to cut it off and start over. When it comes to your hair, doing less leads to healthier tresses.

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