Written on January 27, 2023 by Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Even with the proper care and maintenance, your hair’s growth, curl pattern, and texture can change over your lifetime. In addition, changes in your hair’s texture can signal problems with your health, such as vitamin deficiencies or hormonal imbalances. Everlywell is excited to offer convenient online telehealth consultations to help you find answers to your questions about changes in your hair texture.
Hair follicles are structures in the skin and scalp that make and grow hair . A single hair lives anywhere between 2 and 7 years. That hair then falls out and is replaced with a new one .
Changes in hair texture can be related to hair thinning and hair loss. Some of the more common causes of changes in hair texture are:
Hormonal changes are the most common reasons for changes in hair texture over the lifespan. Because male and female hormones are so different, we will break down the importance of hormones to hair texture for women or those assigned female at birth (AFAB) and men or those assigned male at birth (AMAB).
Changes in your hair texture may be one sign of changes in your body’s hormone balance. Online help with changes in hair texture from a medical professional can help you better understand whether these hormonal shifts are normal or something to worry about.
Higher estrogen levels (a female sex hormone) during pregnancy slow down the hair’s shedding process, giving the illusion that hair is thicker and healthier. However, as estrogen levels fall postpartum, people shed all the extra hair, and their postpartum hair may feel thinner, duller, and have less body.
Estrogen levels also fall as women enter the perimenopausal transition before stopping having periods altogether. During menopause, people may notice that they shed more hair, and their hair feels thinner and less full .
A thyroid imbalance can cause hair to appear coarser, drier, and more brittle in both men and women. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and during perimenopause . Other hormones that change hair texture in people AFAB with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are insulin and androgens, which cause hair loss, thinning, and dryness .
Hair changes in people AMAB tend to be less influenced by hormones than in people AFAB. While testosterone is the most common and prominent androgen or male sex hormone, its impact on hair texture, thinning, and loss is not as simple.
Unlike estrogen, it is not falling testosterone levels that cause changes in male hair texture or amount. Instead, age and genes determine how much and where hair follicles shrink. It is this shrinking that leads to male pattern baldness.
Any sudden hair loss or patchy bald spots can indicate a more serious medical condition, not just age-related changes in hair follicles . Everlywell’s telehealth team can help review your health history, medications, and other possible signs of unhealthy testosterone levels to help you decide whether it makes sense to test your testosterone levels.
Your genes determine how much hair you have on your body and head . Sometimes, our genes also signal our hair to become thinner with age . As you age, each follicle still produces hair, but the diameter of each hair decreases over each growth cycle.
With age, the glands on our scalps produce less sebum (hair’s natural oil), and its outer protective covering (the cuticle) thins. Less sebum causes your hair to become coarser. Also, because the cuticle is thinner, hair can have a wiry, won’t-lie-flat effect.
Also, as your hair ages, it stops producing pigments that give your hair its natural color . The result? Gray hair. Gray hair’s cuticles are thinner and more brittle. So, as your hair turns grey, you might notice that overall your hair feels kinkier and coarser.
Your Everlywell telehealth provider can help explain some of these age-related changes in your hair texture that you might be experiencing.
Your Everlywell healthcare provider may ask about your diet as part of your online health consultation. That is because your hair and skin crave high amounts of zinc, Vitamin B-12, iron, vitamin E, and omega fatty acids .
For example, did you know that without enough vitamin B12 in one’s daily diet, hair follicles might not receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to grow thicker hair? However, getting enough vitamin B12-rich foods can be challenging for some of us. During your telehealth visit, you can review which supplements you take already or whether vitamin B12 supplements, like those offered by Everlywell, could improve your hair’s texture.
Many medications we take to treat one problem can have unintended side effects. For example, did you know that beta blocker heart medicines like propranolol or metoprolol can cause thinning hair or hair loss for some people? Or that some cholesterol-lowering medications (like the statin class of drugs) can sometimes change people’s hair color? Everlywell’s telehealth clinicians can review your medication list and help you identify whether any of the medications you take regularly might be changing your hair’s texture.
During an Everlywell virtual care visit, your healthcare provider will also ask about other choices you make that impact your hair (and health). For example, they will inquire about your smoking habits. Research shows that smoking cigarettes causes a host of health risks and increases your risk of changes in hair texture, hair thinning, and hair loss .
You probably already know how damaging chemical treatments (like relaxing or perming) and styling (hot iron and blowdrying) can lead to changes in hair texture. But your provider might want to know about other ways you take care of your hair. For example, they might also ask whether you regularly wear a hat or scarf, or apply sunblock to your hair and scalp because the sun can also damage your hair .
So, why not learn more about steps you can take to protect the hair you do have — remember, the hair you are growing now may last as long as seven years, so think of it as an investment in a healthy hair future!
With today’s busy schedules and the difficulty of getting in-person medical appointments, many of us find it hard to take time to take care of our health. With easy, online virtual care visits, you can learn more about what might be causing changes in your hair texture.