Dry, coarse, and brittle hair is usually attributed to washing your hair too often or applying too many color treatments. However, this is not always the case. Dry hair, among other symptoms, can also be linked to an underlying health condition such as thyroid disease. Thyroid disease is prevalent, affecting an estimated 20 million people in the United States. Below, we dive deeper into understanding how thyroid disease causes dry hair and some of the effective remedies to combat it and avoid further worsening.
What is Thyroid Disease?
The Thyroid is a hormone-producing gland located in the neck. The hormones produced play a huge role in controlling your bodys metabolism and vital functions. When the Thyroid generates an abnormal level of crucial hormones for your bodys needs, it can have a negative impact on your entire body. By abnormal amount, I mean your thyroid gland either produces insufficient or excessive amounts of certain hormones.
Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, occurs when your body produces insufficient thyroid hormone. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid occurs when your body generates too much hormone. Thyroid disease is a general term that encompasses both of these thyroid-related issues.
What are the causes of thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease can be caused by several factors - from genetic disorders, iodine deficiency, and radiation therapy to autoimmune diseases. In women, pregnancy can also cause thyroid problems to develop or worsen.
How does Thyroid Disease cause Dry Hair?
When hormone production is affected, it impacts various physiological processes, including hair development. Since hair growth is highly dependent on the thyroid gland, very high or very low levels of thyroid hormone can cause hair changes and a variety of other adverse effects if left untreated.
In hypothyroidism, the hair on your scalp and body can become dry, coarse, brittle, slow-growing, and may even start to thin. The link between your hair and your Thyroid stems from the interference of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The health and growth of new hair at the root of your hair follicles are compromised when the quantities of these hormones are out of balance.
Usually, blood vessels nourish these roots, allowing them to produce new cells and develop healthy hair. However, with a thyroid problem, this process does not go as expected.
In fact, severe, prolonged and untreated hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss on your scalp and other areas such as your eyebrows.
What Does Dry Hair Look and Feel Like?
It feels brittle when you touch dry hair, and stray hairs and split ends may be noticeable in the mirror. Over time, you may also experience an itchy scalp and dandruff. Dry hair is more likely to tangle easily, causing hair follicle breakage and more hair loss.
Who is affected by thyroid disease?
Men, women, newborns, teenagers, and the elderly can all be affected by thyroid disease. However, a womans chances of being diagnosed with thyroid disease are five to eight times more likely than a mans. Hypothyroidism can also be present at birth and progress as you become older.
Effective Remedies for Dry Thyroid Hair
Take Thyroid Medications
The truth is that hair problems caused by thyroid disorders are usually temporary and can be remedied. When taken as directed by your doctor, Thyroid drugs can help to rebalance your hormones, replace lost hair, and revitalize dry hair. Since hair takes time to grow, it may take a while before you notice any changes or results, so be patient.
Be sure to make an appointment with a specialist who is familiar with thyroid issues and request a full thyroid panel. Its also vital that you record your symptoms, track how long youve been taking your medication, and seek regular thyroid checkups.
When it comes to dry hair, moisture is your friend. Your goal is to revive all of your hairs moisture and restore it to its former glory. Fortunately, essential oils can get you there. They are generally high in vitamin E and antioxidants, which aid to seal in moisture and repairing damage to the outside hair layer or cuticle. But, first, always patch test on a small area before use to determine any allergic sensitivity.
One of the most popular home treatments for dry hair is olive oil. You can also use coconut, castor, jojoba, almond, or corn oils for maximum performance. Heat half a cup of oil for easy application, gently massage it onto your hair, and wrap it with a towel. You can leave it for 30-40 minutes or overnight. After that, shampoo your hair. Do this once or twice a week for shiny and strengthened hair.
Boost Your Iron Intake
According to research, iron is needed for the proper functioning of the Thyroid, and thyroid disorders can impact the bodys ferritin levels. So, if your iron level is low, your ferritin - a blood protein linked to hair development - is also low. As a result, you should have your ferritin and iron levels checked as well.
To boost your iron intake, consider supplementing your diet with iron-rich foods such as seafood, red meat, beans, and green leafy vegetables. They promote the growth of healthy, shiny hair.
Take Supplements to Treat Nutritional Deficiencies
In addition to increasing your iron intake, consider taking other supplements to assist in restoring luster to your dry and brittle hair. Helpful supplements include Omega-3, Zinc, Copper, and Vitamins A, B complex, B-7 (biotin), C, and E.
Monitor Iodine Intake
Iodine is essential in the production of thyroid hormones. No doubt, increasing your iodine intake can boost your metabolism and keep your thyroid glands from enlarging. However, as the famous phrase goes, Too much of anything is bad for you. In our case, too much iodine may cause thyroid imbalances, and nobody wants that. As a result, those with autoimmune thyroid issues should monitor their iodine intake. The key is to read the labels of multivitamins and cough syrups carefully, as some contain iodine.
Make Dietary Changes
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is beneficial to your entire body, including your hair. Consider incorporating the following foods into your daily diet;
Omega-3s and Antioxidants
Including omega-3s and antioxidants in our diets can help us achieve healthier, shinier hair. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna contain a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, whereas broccoli, blueberries, tomatoes, and walnuts are high in antioxidants.
Anti-inflammatory foods help the bodys endocrine system work better. Because the Thyroid is a part of the endocrine system, supporting it may help suppress some thyroid-related symptoms. Try cooking with fresh ginger and turmeric roots. Not only are they great for thyroid symptoms, but they also elevate the taste of smoothies.
Ensure to add some herbs such as red cloves and black cohosh to your diet. These herbs are well-known for their ability to improve hair health. You can also add cinnamon and cilantro, which improve metabolism, lowering thyroid function.
Avoid Processed Foods
Sugars and fried foods are examples of processed foods that might trigger an inflammatory reaction. Caffeine and alcohol may also play a huge role. Inflammation can aggravate thyroid symptoms, such as dry and brittle hair.
Deep Condition Your Hair Weekly
Moisturization is a tried-and-true method for treating dryness and managing coarse hair. Moisture deficiency causes dry hair, and due to the lack of elasticity in the strands, dry hair snaps and breaks more easily. Deep conditioning your hair regularly is an excellent approach to replenishing moisture.
Be as Gentle as Possible
Dry Thyroid hair is generally coarse, brittle, and fragile. For that reason, constant tugging and pulling into tight hairstyles can make dry, thin hair look and feel worse. You can prevent this from happening by taking care of your hair. Do this instead.
- Use a wide-tooth comb to loosen hair knots.
- Avoid harsh chemical treatments.
- Avoid tugging, twisting, or pulling your hair.
- In short, the goal is to baby your hair.
Can hair grow back healthy after thyroid problems?
The good news is that healthy hormone levels translate to healthy hair growth. As mentioned earlier, most hair problems such as dry hair caused by thyroid disorders are temporary. However, the medication may take a while to stimulate healthy, moisturized hair. While this may be frustrating, try to be patient.
Can hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism be cured permanently?
The answer is yes; both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be cured permanently. Your Thyroid is either destroyed through medication or removed through surgery for hyperthyroidism. However, remember that once the Thyroid is out, youre required to take thyroid hormone replacement drugs for the rest of your life. For hypothyroidism, doctors focus on the symptoms and causes of Hashimotos disease as it causes most hypothyroidism cases.
If youre a thyroid patient experiencing dry hair, it is essential to note that dry hair due to thyroid disease may mean hair loss in the future if left untreated. Therefore, you should consider thyroid medications as well as any other effective remedy mentioned above. With proper treatment and patience, you should see fuller, moisturized, and shinier hair within a few months.