What Does Your Body Hair Tell Us About Your Health?

A Woman Covering Her Eyes with Her Hands

Body hair is an expected feature of being human. Vellus hairs (from the Latin word for “fleece”) make up the tiny fuzz that covers your skin. What about those terrible lads, though, the long, coarse, coloured ones? Your chin, scalp, underarms, and pubic region all contain terminal hairs, which are the hairs that make up your brows and eyelashes.

Your genetic makeup has a big role in how much thicker hair you have on your body. Various kinds of normal life exist. Body hair that is light in colour or texture may be hardly seen to some persons while being more prominently noticed by those who are more sensitive to it.

The sudden shift in your body hair, though, may indicate a more serious problem. Here are several health-related signs that your body hair may be indicating, whether it’s growing more quickly than normal, coming in thicker, or even falling off.

1. You have an imbalance in your male hormones.

An imbalance of male hormones (androgens), which are naturally present in both men and women in various amounts, usually causes a dramatic rise in hair growth or loss in women. Excess hair can occur as a result of a testosterone surge, for example.

Hirsutism is a disorder in which women have undesired male-pattern hair growth. Hair that is “male-pattern” is found on the upper back, upper chest, or above the belly button. It is regarded abnormal and would be hirsutism in women to have more than eight hairs surrounding a single nipple.

In women, male pattern baldness and male pattern excess hair are both signs of changing amounts of male hormones. Many women discover that the hair on their heads thins while their facial hair grows coarser as a result of the reduction in oestrogen levels that occurs after menopause and the resulting increase in testosterone. Even a stray hair on your chin can be there.

2. It might be an indication of PCOS.

An illness known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects approximately one in ten women of childbearing age, is brought on by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, according to the United States Office of Women’s Health (OWS). This might cause issues with your ovaries, which are in charge of generating the egg that is released each month as part of your menstrual cycle. This egg may have developmental issues or may not be released during your period as it typically would if you have PCOS.

Numerous symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, adult acne, hair loss, or an overgrowth of hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body, might be the outcome of this.

3. There might be an iron deficit.

Everyone goes through a hair cycle. Some people lose their hair naturally in the spring and fall, while others do so in the summer and winter. However, widespread hair loss, or anaemia, or a deficiency in iron in the blood, may be indicated by diffuse hair loss, or significant hair loss all over your body and head. It can result in hair loss, brittle nails, and odd appetites. Vegans and vegetarians, as well as women who have heavy periods, are at a higher risk. Consult your doctor for a blood test if you believe you may be iron deficient.

4. A thyroid that isn’t functioning properly may be the problem.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck that secretes hormones that help control how your body uses energy (NIDDK). Numerous bodily processes—including how much hair you produce—slow down when you don’t have enough thyroid hormones.

The symptoms of thyroid-related hair loss are distinct. You most likely have autoimmune thyroid disease if you notice that you’re losing the outer third of your brows and growing ridges in your nails. Get a blood test to check your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels.

5. Recently, your oestrogen levels have altered.

Your body’s oestrogen levels may also have an effect on your hair. In general, hair tends to be thicker when oestrogen levels are high; when they are low, hair loss may result. Temporary hair shedding can also occur if your oestrogen levels suddenly change—for example, after giving up birth control pills or becoming pregnant.

6. Side effects from your drug are possible.

According to Dr. Goldenberg, several drugs might directly affect the body hair on your body. Some medications, such as some antidepressants and anticoagulants, can lead to temporary hair loss, typically as a result of a condition known as telogen effluvium, which can also occur after pregnancy, severe surgery, rapid weight loss, or intense stress.

Other medications, including those that increase body hair, can grow hair. He lists them as being testosterone, danazol, an androgen as well, phenytoin, an anticonvulsant, and glucocorticoids, a class of steroid. The hair changes are often temporary and will go away after you stop taking the drug.

7. An autoimmune condition could be present.

It’s uncommon, but with some autoimmune diseases, your immune system may malfunction and start attacking your hair follicles. As a consequence, you may have hair loss in irregular, circular patches (alopecia areata), complete hair loss on your scalp (alopecia totalis), or complete hair loss on your head, torso, eyebrows, and eyelashes (alopecia universalis). Systemic steroids are frequently used to treat these diseases, and while the hair can regrow, the remedy is not always permanent.

8. You could develop a tumour in rare circumstances.

If hirsutism appears extremely abruptly and your testosterone and DHEAS levels are quite high (a blood test will show both), you may have a tumour that is secreting male hormones and altering your body’s hormone profile to the point where you’re rapidly sprouting hair.

In these situations, we search for an ovarian or an adrenal tumor—both are potential diagnoses. Although it’s uncommon, your doctor will examine it.

Although body hair changes can be a sign of a hidden health problem, this isn’t always the case. The majority of people with abundant facial or body hair that I see have typical variations.

To learn whether there is any underlying medical condition, consult your dermatologist if you notice any new, changing, or irritating hair on your face, jaw, chin, or chest. Getting checked out might help you rule out any issues and begin any required treatments.

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