Why an Illness Doesn’t Have to Destroy Your Hair
The havoc that illnesses can inflict on your hair is no mere side effect. So, we’re going to take a look at several common ailments that affect your hair’s health and give you some tips for fighting their effects.
Have you ever found yourself fighting an illness so powerful...it feels like even your hair’s come down with something?
If so, rest assured: This isn’t unusual.
After all, your hair is nourished and strengthened by the same internal systems as the rest of your body.
And when those systems aren’t working right...or they’re battling a virus or infectio, sometimes, the symptoms that accompany these conditions can include an inflamed scalp… brittle, broken strands...or even hair loss!
YOU LOOK HOW YOU FEEL...YOU FEEL HOW YOU LOOK
The havoc both chronic and temporary illness can inflict on your hair is no mere side effect.
Not when you consider numerous university studies that confirm an intimate link between appearance, self-esteem, and health.
Harvard Medical School reports that cultivating positive emotions is crucial for regulating your health and lessening your risk of illness.1
And according to research from Yale University, feeling good about how you look leads to higher levels of strength, confidence, and happiness.
In other words, looking your best helps you feel your best...which in turn helps maintain your optimum health and wellness!2
“The experts agree: When you feel good about how you look, it helps you attack the world with a powerful confidence and pride!”
So, we’re going to take a closer look at several common ailments that affect your hair’s health…
...and give you some tips for fighting the effects of these conditions...to keep up your spirits, and give you an extra step down the road to recovery!
LIVING WITH LUPUS
The first condition we’ll examine is one that overwhelmingly affects women ages 15-44.
We’re talking about lupus, which, like many hair-hazardous health problems, is an autoimmune disease.
That means your immune system, which normally keeps your body safe from infections, bacteria, and viruses, starts attacking healthy cells instead!
Lupus can hit you with a number of serious symptoms, including pain and fatigue, unsightly rashes, and problems with unclear thinking.3
And lupus is also known to inflame your scalp...blocking your follicles from growing new, healthy strands. This can cause thinning tresses, and eventually patches of hair loss.
In many instances, this thinning scalp or hairfall is actually an early warning sign that leads to a lupus diagnosis.4
“If you notice you’re losing an unusual amount of hair, you may wish to have your doctor test you for lupus.”
But whether you’re diagnosed before the illness affects your hair...or hair-thinning problems enable a diagnosis…
...the Lupus Foundation of America offers these tips for keeping your hair looking its best while you undergo treatment:
- For brittle hair, opt for soothing all-natural ingredients, like peppermint and tea tree oil, in your cleansing and conditioning products
- For normally thick or coarse hair, maintaining moisture is key...so choose products optimized to hydrate and smooth your locks
- If your hair is usually thin or fine, treat and style your tresses with volumizing products...your hair will need even more help than usual to look full of body and bounce
- Avoid any cleansing or styling products containing ammonia...these can dry out your already-brittle hair!5
And, in addition to working closely with your doctor, don’t forget the advice and attention of another expert: Your stylist!
They’ll often be aware of the special hair needs of lupus patients...and can help you achieve a safe and health-supporting style so striking, no one will ever guess you’re in treatment!
Another part of your body that can have a profound effect on your hair’s health is your thyroid.
Found in the front of your neck, this is a hormone-producing gland that regulates a number of essential body functions, especially your metabolism.
Unfortunately, like every other major organ, your thyroid can sometimes work improperly.
It can begin producing far too many hormones...a condition called hyperthyroidism, with symptoms including bulging eyes and an accelerated heart rate.6
Or you could find yourself with hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid. This is one of the most common health problems in the U.S….and women are five times more likely to get it than men!
“The American Thyroid Association says one woman in eight will develop a thyroid problem during her lifetime.”
Among the common symptoms of hypothyroidism are dry skin, fatigue, and constipation.7
And sadly, both an underactive and overactive thyroid affect your hair’s health, too.
Like lupus, hyperthyroidism leads to inflammation of the scalp, creating thinning and shedding hair.
One of the keys to combating this effect is maintaining certain dietary nutrient levels.
Iron deficiency is a recurrent problem in individuals with accelerated hair loss...so, if you’re facing an overactive thyroid, consult your doctor about the benefits of an iron-rich diet.
On the other hand, you want to avoid nutrients known to increase hairfall, such as mercury.
In particular, you don’t want your diet to include too much iodine. This element is what your body uses to make thyroid hormones...and you’re already making too many of those!
Finally, since your hair is prone to shedding when your thyroid is overactive, you’ll want to avoid tight-pulled hairstyles, like buns, ponytails, or tight braids, that can further loosen your strands.
“Sure, this ponytail looks chic.0000..but if you’re dealing with thyroid issues, it can aggravate your already amplified levels of hair loss.”
Since thinning strands and increased hair loss are a symptom of hypothyroidism, too, you also want to avoid these tight styles if you’re dealing with an underactive thyroid.
Hypothyroidism can also leave you with hair that’s seriously coarse and brittle.
In that case, pamper your tresses with products formulated to moisturize and revitalize your hair.8
For example, a lightweight, essential-oil-based hydrating mist is perfect for giving your hair a dew-kissed, invigorating shine.
And a powerful leave-in conditioner can smooth out rough locks...to restore your style’s softness and manageability!
When you’re battling a painful, energy-draining ailment, like lupus or thyroid difficulties, maintaining the health of your hair can suddenly find itself very low on your list of priorities.
But, when it comes to accelerating the mending of your body, a strongly positive attitude and sense of self can be one of the most assertive weapons in your healing arsenal.
And that’s why, at this important time, the self-esteem and confidence boost you get from healthy, beautiful hair becomes so valuable.
So, when you’re planning your in-treatment self-care regimen, we hope you keep these tips in mind.
Because the happiest, healthiest you…
...is the you that feels good from bottom to top!
NOTE: Although this article cites several studies from university medical schools and national health institutions, it ishould NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician.
Before making any adjustments to your health or beauty care routine during treatment for your illness, consult with your doctor or specialist to determine the safest, most effective steps for you to take for the most advantageous results.
- Harvard Health Publishing. “The Happiness-Health Connection - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog, www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection.
- “Lupus Facts and Statistics.” Lupus Resource Center, Lupus Foundation of America, 10 May 2018, resources.lupus.org/entry/facts-and-statistics.
- Chang-Miller, M.D. April. “Lupus: Can It Cause Hair Loss?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 5 Nov. 2015, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/expert-answers/lupus/faq-20058400.
- Wojcik, Emily. “Hair Care: How to Do More with Less.” Lupus Resource Center, Lupus Foundation of America, 26 Sept. 2017, resources.lupus.org/entry/hair-care-how-to-do-more-with-less.
- “What Is Your Thyroid and What Does It Do?” Bastyr University, bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2012/04/what-your-thyroid-and-what-does-it-do.
- “Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid & Hair Loss.” Philip Kingsley, www.philipkingsley.com/clinics/from-the-clinic/hypothyroid-hyperthyroid-hair-loss/.
- “Your Thyroid and Hair Loss: Symptoms, Home Remedies, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/thyroid-and-hair-loss#home-remedies.