Hair & Skin Health | What the health of our hair and skin can tell us about our overall health.
Looking good & feeling good!
How we look on the outside impacts the way we feel on the inside. People can suffer emotionally when they experience health conditions which affect their outward appearance. We place a lot of value on the health of our skin and hair, but as a healthcare practitioner the health status of these 2 systems can actually tell us a lot about your internal health as well.
Hair: Why is healthy hair so important?
Hair is made of a protein called keratin. Hair follicles anchor each strand of hair into the skin. The part of our hair that we see is called the hair shaft. Our hair helps ward off infections and also works to keep our temperature regulated. Some of the common hair complaints you might express throughout your life include:
Hair loss is an extremely common complaint, especially from women who have reached menopause. Although it is normal for our hair to “shed”, approximately 50-150 strands per day in some people, there are some signs that your hair loss might be indicative of an underlying pathology. A great way to objectively see if you are losing too much hair is remove all hair from your hairbrush daily to see how much is coming out. Also take into account, if you shower that morning, hair comes out in the shower and it may be useful to collect these strands as well. If by the end of the day it appears that you have more than 100-150 strands of hair, you might be experiencing more than normal hair loss.
If you are a woman and think you are experiencing male pattern baldness, along with hirsutism (dark coarse terminal hair on your face, chest, stomach and/or back), this might be a sign that you have a hormonal imbalance. Another cause for thinning hair is thyroid dysfunction. Finally, if certain nutrients are deficient, you might also experience excessive hair loss. Thankfully when you visit a naturopathic physician they are trained to take a thorough health history and do appropriate lab testing to figure out why you might be experiencing abnormal hair loss.
What can be done?
Once your naturopathic physician figures out what is the root cause of your hair loss there are a variety of treatment options. Although the treatment will be targeted at your unique reason for thinning hair, your naturopathic physician may prescribe herbal and botanical medicine to help balance out hormones. They may recommend specific nutrient supplementation to assist the function of your thyroid gland or if you are deficient in other nutrients causing hair loss.
Skin: what is its’ function and what is it made of?
Maybe you have heard before that our skin is our largest organ in the body. It helps protect us against external pathogens, injury and fluid loss. Our skin is made up of collagen and elastin, both of which are again proteins. Collagen is key in giving your skin strength while elastin levels in the skin dictate how “elastic” or flexible your skin is. As we age, levels of both collagen and elastin naturally decline. This is why we get wrinkles or laugh lines as we get older. Now that we understand our skin’s structure and function a little better let’s talk about some common skin conditions.