As a trichologist
I have spent decades studying and treating hair problems. Sadly,
many cases are self-inflicted – brittle, dry and irreparably damaged
hair is the result of years of heat-treating, dyeing and styling.
Yet the state of our hair is also a visible barometer of our internal
health. Illness – and certain medications – cause locks to lose
their lustre, becoming dull, limp and fine-looking.
I see more cases of hair loss than I have ever done before. Perhaps
it is because we are more stressed, or simply because we are living
longer – as both anxiety and the natural ageing process can
result in the hair falling out.
cause, hair loss can have a profound effect on self-esteem, triggering
depression and so, ironically, hindering recovery. It is by no means
a shallow act of vanity for someone in the throes of ill-health
to worry about their hair.
finding ways to address the problem can actually be a huge boost
to self-esteem and therefore only help the speed at which we get
diagnose illness just by looking at the hair. But it is possible
to be completely unaware that you are suffering from a health problem
that is causing poor hair growth, and if you are worried visit your
We need iron
to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.
Iron deficiency leads to anaemia, meaning fewer red blood cells.
Less oxygen is carried to the scalp, starving the follicles, and
eventually causing gradual, uniform hair loss. The hair will appear
wispy, and the scalp may be more visible than usual.
include pale skin, lethargy and fatigue. An iron supplement may
help. Lack of Vitamin C and consumption of caffeine and alcohol
can also hinder iron absorption. Drinking a glass of orange juice
with iron-rich food aids absorption, helping hair grow back.
phase of the hair cycle is prematurely halted by reduced food intake,
which makes blood flow sluggish to the scalp. Hair loses its shine
and falls out. Those who lose weight suddenly, or limit their calorie
intake to maintain a low weight, may well also have wispy, dull-looking
The hair loss
is rarely permanent but eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein
is vital. Hair is made from protein, and it is particularly important
to eat protein at breakfast as this is when levels are at their
lowest in the hair follicles.
Also make sure
the diet is rich in vitamins – especially the B complex –
zinc and essential fatty acids.
ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women is caused by an excess of male hormones
which can trigger thinning at the front and top of the scalp. This
happens only in PCOS sufferers with a family history of genetic
causes increased hair growth on the face and body. Drugs to reduce
the amount of male hormone should help hair regrowth, as will head
massage, which increases blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles.