The Health of This 1 Part of Your Body Can Reveal Hidden Health Problems

Your hair says a lot more than you’d think. Damaged hair could simply be a side effect of processing treatments, or it could potentially indicate a hormonal disease. Gray hair is commonly associated with stress and aging, but did you know it could also reflect your melanin levels?

Read on to find out what your hair could be telling you about hidden health problems.

Your hair is thinning

Woman with long hair taking shower.

Hair not feeling as full? | CentralITAlliance/Getty Images

Proteins are the building blocks of cells and that includes hair; therefore, consuming the proper amount of protein will lead to a healthy head of hair. If your hair is thinning significantly it may be a sign that you have a protein deficiency.

Your hair is mostly made up of Keratin. While there are plenty of good Keratin treatments on the market, not consistently getting enough protein in your diet will make a huge difference. If you notice random and excessive hair loss along with weakening nails, skin, or exhaustion, you may have a problem.

You’re losing your hair

Woman brushing her hair with a wooden comb.

Finding tons of hair in your brush is never fun. | Tinatin1/iStock/Getty Images

Hair shedding or hair loss, especially in excessive and random amounts, can indicate that you may be anemic. Anemia develops when your blood lacks enough hemoglobin (healthy red blood cells). Symptoms like hair loss and exhaustion occur because your organs can’t function as well without these cells. WebMD lists the basic things you should know about anemia.

If you notice extra hair loss on your brush or in the shower, it may be time for a blood test. 

You have extremely dry hair

Young girl applying hair spray on her hair.

You might be wondering why your strands are so dry. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

A key ingredient of healthy hair is calcium. If you aren’t getting enough calcium, your hair can turn extremely brittle and even break off.

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid glands don’t produce enough hormones leaving you with an imbalance. Hair loss and breakage is an early sign that you may have a thyroid disorder. If you notice dry hair and skin along with these side effects, consider getting your thyroid checked.

You have scaly patches or a discolored scalp

A woman looks at her hair through her phone camera.

You might notice odd patches on your scalp that definitely weren’t there before. | SIphotography/iStock/Getty Images

Psoriasis can affect your scalp, resulting in dry, scaly, discolored skin. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects nearly 7.5 million Americans. Although incurable, there are many topical and systemic treatments that make living with psoriasis easier.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the disease can be triggered by stress, skin injury, and various medications. If you notice red skin covered in scales or have an extremely itchy scalp, look into psoriasis treatments.

Your hair falls out in patches

A hair brush with a hand full of hair in a white background.

You should see your doctor if you find yourself losing patches of hair. | Zneb076/iStock/Getty Images

The immune system is responsible for resisting attacks on nutrients that nourish our hair and skin. When your immune system is weakened, your hair can be compromised as a result. With alopecia areata, a condition that those with diabetes are more likely to have, the immune system attacks the hair follicles. This results in hair loss in various, alternating patches.

Diabetes can also cause your hair to grow slower and fall out. You may lose hair on your arms and legs in addition to your head. If you notice these symptoms along with other early warning signs of diabetes, consult a medical professional immediately.

You have yellow flakes and dry skin

A woman inspects her hair in the mirror.

Dandruff is more than just a mild annoyance. | CentralITAlliance/iStock/Getty Images

The common signs of dandruff can actually indicate a much more severe condition. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory scalp condition that causes scaly, red patches to form on and around the scalp. When this skin loosens it falls and leaves “dandruff” flakes.

This condition can come from a combination of factors including stress, various medications, and cold or dry weather. If you notice dandruff and itching on your scalp or facial hair, consider consulting a dermatologist about potential topical treatments.

You’re prematurely graying

A woman with gray hair smiles in a suit.

You have more than “just a few” strands of gray hair. | Nandofotos/iStock/Getty Images

We’re taught to associate gray hair with aging, however vitiligo proves this isn’t always the case. Vitilgo is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the cells that produce melanin (what determines our hair and skin pigment) die or stop functioning.

Plucking a gray hair from your head every once in a while is nothing to worry about. However, if more than half of your hair has turned gray before you turn 40, it’s considered “premature.” Mayo Clinic offers multiple treatments for vitiligo but be sure to consult your doctor before seeking medical care.