Your hair and your health - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Your hair and your health

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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Most of us go to the hair salon regularly for a haircut. But did you know, a regular hair appointment could have you scheduling an appointment with your doctor?

For KSLA News 12's Olivia Vidal, her regular hair appointment had her doing just that.

Disclaimer: Hair stylists are not doctors and do not diagnose problems. If something is pointed out to you, schedule an appointment with your doctor to be properly examined and diagnosed.

Hair stylists can point out changes in the hair and skin that could be early warning signs of a deeper issue. 

Changes or issues like thinning hair, alopecia, moles or autoimmune disorders are some of the things hair stylists can spot. Hair stylists see their clients on a regular basis, so it's easy for them to spot changes. 

"I'm very interactive with my clients. You know, you become very close to them, so you know a lot about their history," senior hair stylist at Chemistry Salon in Shreveport Hallie McHalffey said. 

McHalffey said during the training process, students in cosmetology school learn the anatomy and physiology of the neck and up. She said it's a little bit of education, but enough to know how the skin and hair are affected when things change.

"People just think hair, hairdressers, color, cutting, it's a wide variety of things," she said. Along with anatomy and physiology, she said they also learn about skin disorders.

She said there's a reason these noticeable changes are taking place. 

Reporter note: (Olivia Vidal) In my case, my hairdresser noticed a section of my hair not growing quite like the rest. It wasn't taking to the conditioning treatment and it appeared drier and frizzier than the rest. My hairdresser mentioned that I could have a possible thyroid issue, which I thought was alarming because my mother had hypothyroidism and had to have surgery. I never told my hairdresser that. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my doctor to get my thyroid checked out.

The thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism. These hormones also affect the hair and skin.

"The thyroid is a big deal with hair and can affect different people in different ways," McHalffey said.

According to LSU Health Shreveport pediatric endocrinologist  Dr. Neslihan Gungor, if the thyroid slows down it's production of hormones, most functions in the body also begin slowing down. Dr. Gungor said sometimes changes to the hair and skin may be the early signs of hormone imbalance. 

"If the thyroid is falling short of this and not able to compensate then the thyroid hormones may fall below the normal levels and then we may start to see all the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, which is a low functioning thyroid," Gungor said.

It's an easy things to treat with medication, but every case is different. Gungor said there are other types of thyroid disorders like thyroid nodules or types of thyroid cancers. Under those circumstances, she said surgical approaches might be used.

Reporter note: (Olivia Vidal) Whether it's a mole on the back of your head, beginning stages of alopecia, or in my case, an unusual segment of hair, take it as a sign from your body that you should get checked out by a doctor. At my check-up, I had to have my blood work done to test for any issues with my thyroid. Fortunately for me, my results came back normal and my thyroid is working the way it should. But I'm happy I got evaluated by my doctor instead of overlooking it and dealing with a bigger issue later down the road.

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