Dry hair is a common ailment if you wash your hair too often, use too many color treatments, or use an excessive amount of heating tools such as blow-dryers and flat irons. However, dry hair can also be attributed to underlying health conditions, such as those related to your thyroid gland. Thyroid problems also carry a host of other symptoms. Therefore, a visit to an endocrinologist, a medical doctor who specializes in thyroid problems, is essential in order to obtain a proper diagnosis.
The thyroid gland is shaped like butterfly wings and is at the front base of your neck. Your pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH) that tell your thyroid how many T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) hormones to release. These thyroid hormones directly affect your metabolism and are related to nearly all body functions, including hair growth. When your thyroid does not release enough hormones, it is under-active, a condition known as hypothyroidism.
According to Thyroid Talk, a malfunctioning metabolism related to hypothyroidism disrupts hair follicle health. As a result, the quality of your hair diminishes, as well as the rapidity of hair development. In hypothyroidism, you may find your hair to be dry to the touch and to even frizz from coarseness. Protein conditioning treatments may help temporarily, but will not reverse the problem. Overtime, your hair may lose so much strength that it breaks from the follicles.
Having dry hair does not necessarily indicate hypothyroidism. In fact, hypothyroidism causes an array of other symptoms. Endocrine Web reports that symptoms of an under-active thyroid may include hair loss, dry skin, discoloration of the skin, excessive fatigue, weakness, depression, cold intolerance, muscle pains, irritability, menstrual or libido changes and sudden weight gain. Symptoms of hypothyroidism vary. If your hair is extremely coarse and you experience any other hypothyroid symptoms, it is best that you see an endocrinologist for testing.
Blood tests are required to determine how much thyroid hormones your body lacks. Hypothyroidism is treated with thyroid hormone replacements, such as Levothyroxine and Synthroid. Such prescription medications provide your body with T4 hormones only. In some cases, Thyroid-Info explains, some patients require an alternative medication with T3 and T4 hormones such as Armour. Traditional hormone replacements help your metabolism functioning properly. In turn, your dry and coarse hair related to your thyroid tends to reverse while under treatment. Keep in mind, however, that this process can take months, as new, healthy hairs emerge from your follicles.
Dry hair from thyroid disease can be a precursor to hair loss. This type of hair loss can mimic male-pattern hair loss if your hypothyroidism is left untreated. More commonly, however, is increased shedding of hairs during grooming and showering, as explained by Thyroid-Info. An incorrect dosage of thyroid hormone replacements can also lead to hair problems. According to Endocrine Web, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to more complications including heart failure, severe depression and comas.