- NEW YORK - Is your hairdo trying to tell you something about your health?
- Prof. Veronica James of Australia's University
of New South Wales thinks so.
- She recently published a report, which
revealed that what many women might consider to be a string of bad-hair
days (BHDs) could indicate a poor diet, a hormonal imbalance or even the
onset of diabetes.
- ("People with diabetes find their
hair isn't manageable when the sugar is high," explains James. "I
have spoken to a lot of hairdressers who have all said they could always
tell if someone was sick, from their hair.")
- Indeed, Mark Garrison, owner of The Mark
Garrison Salon on Madison Avenue, says that he has had clients who, after
periods of intense antibiotic treatment, have experienced a total change
in their hair texture. "In the most extreme cases, I've seen women
whose hair has gone from straight to wavy to curly," says Garrison.
- Others, he says, experience less severe
reactions that result in "limp, lifeless hair that loses its punch."
- "Whatever you put into your system
within hours will show up in your hair," Garrison says.
- When the amount of estrogen in a woman's
body changes during menopause, it can cause "a weird wave or kink."
- One client who takes strong medication
to help her deal with crippling arthritis "comes in with different
hair each time I see her," says Garrison. "It's amazing what
hair can tell you."
- Hair is made up of long spirals of protein,
called keratin. James found that the molecular structure of these building
blocks is different in breast-cancer patients, for example.
- She examined hair samples using a process
called X-ray diffraction, through which irregular DNA patterns in the
hair's genetic makeup can be detected.
- James says that the new technology may
someday allow medical professionals to screen women for breast cancer by
examining a single strand of hair, effectively replacing the mammogram.
(Drug tests are already being done by focusing on hair follicles.)
- As for those bad-hair days " here's
what she says you can do to fix them. Shedding
- Symptoms: Hair in the sink or tub after
washing; short hairs along hairline. Why? After an accident, illness or
major operation, some people report losing up to half their hair. (It's
thought that since hair is non-essential, in times of crisis the body temporarily
diverts nutrients to vital organs).
- Women who've just give birth are especially
apt to shed, due to the hormonal and nutritional changes that accompany
- What to Do? Just wait. Normally, hair
will grow back when your body readjusts to the changes it has endured.
In the meantime, because shedding might be caused by insufficient levels
of iron or lysine, (contained in meat, fish and eggs) you should try to
improve your diet. Eating more red meat and avoiding dairy should help.
- Greasy Hair
- Why?You may be drinking too much milk
or chowing down on inordinate amounts of cheese. When the body can't process
all of the fatty acids in milk products, they are secreted as oil by sebaceous
glands in your head.
- What to Do? Cut down on dairy.
- Thinning Hair
- Symptoms: Your part gets wider and each
hair gets finer.
- Why? Pre-menopausal women who have very
fine hair or experience thinning hair are probably plagued with genetic
hair loss, which can start as early as one's 20s. Menopausal women experience
hair thinning because of a lack of estrogen. It can also indicate the onset
of a thyroid disease.
- What to Do? You should see your doctor,
who will probably prescribe an anti-androgen therapy as well as a product
to encourage hair growth, or a medication to help control your over- or
- Why? Stress might cause the harmless
yeast that occurs naturally near the scalp to become unbalanced. That's
when dandruff occurs.
- What to DO? Doctors recommend shampooing
daily. If there is still no relief, you should find a good anti-dandruff
shampoo. Still no luck? See your doctor, who might diagnose a scalp condition.