What the scalp and hair can say about your health – 10/06/2020


Hair is the frame of the face and, for many, a jewel cared for with all care. Proof of this is the profusion of products in the market of the most varied types: shampoo, conditioner, masks, moisturizers, oils, vitamins and so on – all to satisfy an increasingly demanding public and concerned with the health of the hair.

Some problems in this area, such as falling, dandruff and oiliness can be associated with our physical and emotional health. But calm, not always healthy hair is related to your health. Sometimes, it is just a weakened capillary structure, and this can be of genetic origin. It is worth talking to a dermatologist.

However, hair can reflect a number of health changes. For example, hypothyroidism can make hair more fragile. In addition, vitamin B deficiency, iron or protein deficiency also end up leaving hair opaque and more brittle. Live well listened to experts to understand how hair and scalp have to do with your health.


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It is the popular name given to seborrheic dermatitis. It is a chronic inflammation, which has no cure, is not contagious and also has nothing to do with poor hygiene. This inflammation causes whitish or yellowish peeling and redness, especially on the scalp, but it can also reach areas such as eyebrows, beard, corners of nose and ears.

Among the most common symptoms are itching, red spots, irritations and even wounds. The appearance of dandruff can be triggered by genetic predisposition, excess oil on the scalp, situations of fatigue or emotional stress, low temperature, alcohol, some medications and fungal proliferation.

Although many people have no symptoms at all, the annoyance of seeing those flakes in their hair and often even falling on their clothes is very unpleasant – and can even cause shame and impair self-esteem. If you are going through this, calm down, although there is no definitive cure, there is clinical treatment and daily care that helps to avoid it. See tips:

  • Avoid sleeping with wet hair;
  • Avoid pinning damp hair;
  • Do not wear caps or hats constantly;
  • Do not wash your scalp with very hot water, only warm or cold;
  • Apply conditioners and masks only on the length of the hair and not on the scalp;
  • Increase the frequency of washes;
  • Control stress and anxiety.

In addition, it is also possible to use specific shampoos, soaps, lotions, creams and even medications. To find out which treatment is best for you, see a dermatologist.

Hair loss (alopecia)

Alopecia, or just hair loss, as we usually call it, as well as dandruff, can be related to our physical and mental health. Daily it is common to lose between 100 and 150 hairs. This happens because the scalp alternates constantly between three phases: anagen (hair growth), catagen (pause) and telogen (hair loss).

When the volume exceeds this limit, it is a sign that something may be wrong with capillary health. The main causes for hair loss are genetic, nutritional, emotional, hormonal and external factors. Below we mention the most common ones:

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Androgenetic alopecia: also called baldness. It is the most common cause. It affects both men and women, although it is more common in men over the age of 50 – mainly due to the action of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which tapers the hair strands progressively until it begins to fall. After a few years, baldness can be noticed easily and the lost hair is not born again.

The woman also produces dihydrotestosterone, however, the female hormones – estrogen and progesterone – protect the follicles from the action of DHT, so we see more bald men than women. The front entries and the high part behind the head are the areas where men lose the most hair. In women, the hair becomes thinner mainly on the top of the head, but diffuse loss is common, which makes the entire scalp more apparent.

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Alopecia areata: is an inflammatory disease, most common between 20 and 50 years of age, among men and women. It is characterized by flaws, generally rounded, both on the scalp, on the beard, or even on the entire body, in this case – called alopecia areata universal, in which the person can be without eyebrows, hair and hair on the entire body. It is basically an immune defect, but it can also be associated with genetic issues.

According to experts heard by Live well, this type of alopecia is very fast – from one day to the next the person may see a huge hair loss. Emotional factors, physical trauma and infectious conditions can trigger or worsen the condition. Hair can grow back, even if there is total loss. This is because the disease does not destroy hair follicles, it just keeps them inactive due to inflammation.

Traction alopecia: this type of alopecia is characterized by the loss of hair as a result of some traction. Most of the time, it happens due to the constant use of hairstyles, braids, apply and also the habit of pulling strands due to emotional problems, caused by stress. If the problem is not treated in time, the hair bulb can suffer permanent damage causing the follicles to heal. As a result, the area does not recover and the hair does not grow back.

It is important to note that many drugs have side effects and can contribute to hair loss, such as antidepressants, anticoagulants, appetite suppressants, anabolics, isotretinoin, anticonvulsants, anabolics, anti-inflammatories, among others. The severity of the fall in this case depends on the dose and type of medication, as well as the sensitivity of each one.

Telogen effluvium (temporary hair loss)

It is a type of temporary hair loss – that is, the strands fall out, but after a certain time, usually two to four months, they stop falling and everything goes back to normal. Therefore, in general, the telogen effluvium does not need treatment, but if the patient has any associated condition, such as androgenetic alopecia or senile alopecia (rarefaction that appears after 60 years), it is possible to make a treatment to recover the volume and the fastest wire length.

It is important to highlight that there is no specific treatment, only some medications that stimulate hair growth, but if the patient is healthy and without a previous scalp disease, he will have full recovery capacity.

There are two types of effluvium: acute and chronic. Acute is related to a situation recently experienced, for example postpartum period, fever, acute infection, sinusitis, pneumonia, the flu, very restrictive diets that alter the intake of necessary vitamins, anemias, diabetes poorly controlled, metabolic or infectious diseases, surgery, especially bariatric and stress, in addition to some medications with side effects on capillary health.

Chronic telogen effluvium, on the other hand, causes hair loss to repeat once or twice a year, or every two years, depending on the person. In this case, the problem has no definitive cause, but experts say it is associated with autoimmune diseases, the most common of which is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Oiliness, frizz, split ends …

Did you know that greasiness, very dry hair, split ends or even frizz can also be associated with health? Greasiness, for example, can occur because of seborrheic dermatitis, which is closely linked to emotional factors, such as stress.

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The low production of sebum in the scalp can be a consequence of nutritional deficiencies, anorexia nervosa, hypothyroidism or hypoparathyroidism. Frizz and split ends can also come from this same deficiency, especially the lack of vitamins.

Thus, according to experts, poor nutrition greatly affects the health of the hair. About 97% of the hair structure is composed of proteins, and foods rich in these nutrients are good options to help the body in the formation of keratin – which is the main protein in hair.

Iron, zinc and selenium are also important elements for hair health. Only in certain specific situations do we need supplementation. The B vitamins and minerals stand out among the main nutrients responsible for the healthy growth of the hair, promote better resistance of the hair fiber and prevent the hair from becoming weak and brittle.

Therefore, the ideal is to maintain a balanced diet, varying between different types of vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains. Some examples of these foods are egg yolk, red meat, avocado, cabbage, arugula, spinach, chestnuts and Soy. All the benefits of these foods also go to the hair.

Sources: Cristina Salaro, president of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology of the Federal District; Fernanda Seabra, dermatologist at Rede D’Or São Luiz, in Brasília and a specialist in Mohs micrographic surgery; Flávia Basilio, dermatologist at Hospital de Clínicas da UFPR (Federal University of Paraná) with a focus on alopecia, full member of SBD (Brazilian Society of Dermatology), member of ABCRC (Brazilian Association of Hair Restoration Surgery), member of the International Society of Tricoscopy and member of the American Society for Hair Research and Kate Koetz, doctor at the clinic For All Group, in São Paulo.

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