Experiencing hair loss after the busy New Year? Is the shower drain getting clogged on a more-than-regular basis? Your self esteem and confidence can definitely tank when your hair starts to thin. This happens to both genders for many different reasons! It is important to know that genetics does play a major role in how luscious your hair is when you’re 60, but I also think its important to do a proper work up for various health reasons.
Usually hair thinning is divided into two categories: diagnoses where the hair follicle is damaged, and those where the hair follicle is intact but growth is slower. Here is a list of the top 5 things to look into when wondering if your hair loss is healthy.
- Inspect you scalp. Do you have dandruff or redness? Is there scarring? This can sometimes indicate if there is a rash such as ringworm or herpes zoster causing hair loss. Sometimes medical doctors will do a skin scrape or biopsy a small fragment of skin and send it off to the lab.
- Testosterone. This is the most common cause of thinning hair in both men and women. Getting your lab levels evaluated even in a teenager this measurement is necessary. High or low testosterone levels also have other health consequences such as PCOS, acne, or low sex drive.
- Thyroid. This is also a common flag, more so in women. Low thyroid, or hypothyroid is an ever-growing condition in North America. Other symptoms are constipation, weight gain, feeling cold, dry skin, brain fog, anxiety/depression, and menstrual irregularities/miscarriage. Worth checking out if you have a few of these symptoms!
- Iron deficiency. Especially in vegetarians, women and children this is worth checking. Iron deficiency anemia is extremely common when we don’t eat enough red meats. Hair loss, sleep issues, restless legs, low energy, low mood and mental clarity, and feeling cold are all symptoms of iron deficiency anemia including hair loss. This is also a must when dealing with learning/concentration, and behavioural problems!
- Autoimmunity. Yep, sometimes thinning of hair can be an autoimmune component. Lupus markers are often checked, and a biopsy of the scalp as mentioned earlier is the gold standard to rule this out.
- Stress. Perhaps it doesn’t take a lab value to know if you’re stressed, but this can definitely impact hair growth. In fact, when the stress hormone cortisol is high, testosterone automatically will go lower! Don’t underestimate the power of your wellbeing.
It is important to realize that natural fluctuations of hair growth is normal, depending on the season and stress level. It is also very normal to have hair loss during menopause and postpartum as well. The natural progression of our hormonal stages through life can a wonderful thing in many other ways! In your efforts for thicker and stronger hair, take the time to look into these health concerns as well.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Mollie, ND