What our hair says about us (and our health)

Long, short, curly, combed, tamed with a bun … You can decorate your hair in any way imaginable, it is a waste of time: it will always be such friends who are unable to hide a secret from you.

Because if the eyes are famous for being a reflection of the soul, hair is able to reveal a certain amount of information about your health, lifestyle, and even the feelings you’re going through. For example, it tends to hoard chemical elements from products you’ve consumed, which is somewhat legal (well, we’re not going to report you), or makes some obvious illnesses that aren’t visible at first glance. He can also tell if your nights are better (or worse) than your days. “We often talk about hair from bad days or hair from good days, and this is no coincidence, confirms Ralf Troup, professor of dermatology at the University of Zurich and past president of the European Hair Research Association.

When hair doesn’t look its way, there is often something wrong, both from a health and psychological standpoint.

For example, it can be a matter of very unhelpful nights, because we went to bed late or because a problem prevented us from sleeping awake. There are really no systematic studies on the relationship between sleep quality and hair appearance, but it is suspected that melatonin may play a role, because its level in the blood varies and can have an effect on the hair cycle.”

Obviously, your level of disclosure will depend on the degree to which you take care of your hair. Thus, a quick visual examination of it may help determine if your meals are unbalanced. “Weak, brittle and frizzy hair can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, points out Pierre de Virage, dermatologist and trichologist in Zurich and consultant at Inselspital in Bern. This is not surprising, we produce thirty meters of hair per day, which requires nourishment. Good and sufficient amount of calories.

stress history

Perhaps the plates are poorly formed, but there are other factors that can affect hair quality and growth, notes Alexia Millard, M.D., a dermatologist, “such as medications, improper styling technique, or extreme stress.” Stress, both emotional and physical, can generate telogen effluvium, and hair loss proliferates. The start date of the event often goes back three months. Why three months? Because this period corresponds to the hair cycles. The first stage, called the anagen phase, corresponds to their growth. The second stage, called catagen, lasts about two weeks and is a transitional stage characterized by the cessation of propulsion. Then comes the last period, the telogen phase, where the hair settles in before falling out after three months.

Alexia Maillard explains: “With a high dose of stress or an impactful illness like Covid for example, hair passes more quickly into this telogen phase, Alexia Maillard explains. It can be impressive even if this type of experience is very common.

However, to try to diagnose other diseases, it is necessary to get close and go to trichoscopy or microscopy, which consists in a careful analysis of the hair and scalp. “This type of examination can help confirm some chronic inflammatory diseases such as lichen planus or lupus, or genetic diseases such as anagen anagen syndrome or Netherton syndrome. But we must be clear, these diseases are still rare. Besides these conditions, hair Not the most practical vector for determining an accurate diagnosis of a health condition.There is thus a kind of fantasy that hair can say specific things about our health, “a little bit like nails, as complete fiction suggests that we can immediately draw conclusions from their observation,” notes Pierre de Verage.

Even some metals

Indeed, poetry proves to be particularly interesting in the field of toxicology. It actually tends to store the chemical elements we’ve consumed: alcohol, drugs, heavy metals… “We have a history of several months, even years, depending on the length of the hair, and what we ingested,” Alexia Maillard tells.

Be careful, however, that you don’t make too many predictions, like nuances like Pierre de Verage: “If we have effective drug detection protocols, this is not the case for metals like zinc and lead. It remains difficult to tell the difference between minerals absorbed by the body and minerals That ends up on the hair through pollution.Therefore, the tests that are sometimes sold in pharmacies to assess the possibility of poisoning by heavy metals through the composition of the hair are of little importance.

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