Dry hair? Dandruff? Hair loss? Your hair may be trying to drop you hints about your health – because our hair responds to our bodily changes and stress. Changes to your hair may be indicators of internal heath conditions, be it underlying health issues or psychological stress. If the following eight things are happening to your hair, you should pay more attention to what’s happening to your body!

1. Your hair is getting dryer and more brittle (it breaks off easily)

While brittle and fragile hair may be a result of hair styling procedures like bleaching and straightening, it might also be an indicator of health conditions, especially if it comes together with dry, flaky skin. Underlying health conditions may include overly low levels of parathyroid hormone, Cushing’s syndrome (a disorder of the adrenal glands that causes excess production of the hormone cortisol), and hypoparathyroidism.

However, dry hair may also be an indicator of dietary problems – your diet may be lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, so you might want to consume more salmon and fish oil.

2. Your hair is getting drier and thinning

Factors like hair dying, blow drying, and exposure to chlorine (from swimming, for instance) may lead to drier hair. However, if you feel that your hair is experiencing a significant change in texture, with individual strands becoming finer than usual, it could be an indicator of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). There are other telltale signs for this – fatigue, weight gain, slow heart rate, falling and thinning eyebrows etc. It might be sign to visit your doctor.

3. You have yellow dandruff, with scaly, itchy patches on your scalp

Normal dandruff is neither contagious nor harmful, so it isn’t a cause for worry – it is often solved by using anti-dandruff shampoo daily. However, if your dandruff flakes are greasy and yellow, it may point towards seborrheic dermatitis. This is an inflammatory condition of the scalp that occurs in areas where the scalp is the oiliest. When the scaly skin flakes, these fall as yellow dandruff.

Seborrheic dermatitis can be an indication to problems like hormonal issues, fungus, stress, and even Parkinson’s disease or HIV, though in the latter two cases yellow dandruff wouldn’t be the only telltale sign. Yellow dandruff is often treated with anti-dandruff shampoo, or in serious cases, a prescription steroid or anti-fungal medicine.

4. Your hair is falling out in small, circular patches

This kind of hair loss is called alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that is more common if you have a family history of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, early-onset diabetes, and thyroid disease. Alopecia areata may be triggered by diabetes in some people, and may not happen only to hair on the head but also to hair on other areas of the body like eyebrows or eyelashes.

5. You’re experiencing overall hair loss

We shed an average of up to 100 or more hairs per day. However, if you’re experiencing excessive hair loss, you might want to look into your diet and your health.

A crash diet may lead to excessive hair loss, because your hair needs protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin A to stay healthy. Without sufficient amounts of these nutrients, your hair may fall. Some medications also have hair loss as a side effect. These include anti-clotting drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and drugs for menopause, birth control, and antibiotics. While hair usually grows back once medication stops, it may not in some cases. Increased stress levels, high fever, and diabetes may also cause falling and thinning hair.

6. You start having grey hair

Grey hair is often genetic, and the age at which you start having grey hair runs in the family. However, if you’re having grey hair prematurely, this may be related to issues like anaemia, thyroid issues, vitamin B12 deficiency, and vitiligo. In recent years though, some research scientists believe that stress and trauma may lead to greying hair as well.

7. Your hair is not growing

This might mean that you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, as protein is required for your hair to grow. You will need to beef up on vitamins and minerals that are rich in protein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids! You may like to consume more egg yolks, shellfish, and wild red meat.

8. Your hair is getting lighter in colour (not because you dyed it)

This might be the result of being under the sun for too long, as the sun lightens our hair. The solution is to use products with SPF for your hair, and also eating Vitamin E-rich foods – these help to block your hair from the harmful effects of the sun!