Everyone likes to look their best, and in most cases how you feel about yourself relies largely on your hair, skin, and nails. When your hair is dry or thinning, your skin has lost its luster, and your nails are brittle, you may feel not quite up to par.
A myriad of lotions, supplements, and ointments promise better hair, skin, and nails; but beauty starts from within. Your thyroid may be sabotaging your efforts no matter how many times you condition and lather. Why can your thyroid be considered the beauty gland?
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It is part of the endocrine system and is responsible for producing some pretty important hormones. The two hormones that most affect your hair, skin, and nails are T3 and T4.
These hormones regulate a large number of functions and processes in the body. One important function is growth. Your hair follicles, skin cells, and nail beds take cues from the growth-stimulating thyroid hormones.
If your thyroid produces too little T3 or T4 it is considered underactive. A chronically underactive thyroid may be the result of hypothyroidism caused by an autoimmune disease. As your thyroid continually produces too little hormone, your body will begin to show signs and symptoms.
Your hair follicles are particularly susceptible to low thyroid hormone levels. Hair follicle stem cells have rapid turnover and a short life span, meaning they need to regenerate frequently. If your low thyroid hormones fail to stimulate them, they can stop regenerating, leading to hair loss, breakage, and thinning.
Your skin cells work in a similar pattern, dying and regenerating. The lifespan of a skin cell is quite short as well and the growth cycle is regulated by thyroid hormones. When not enough hormones are detected the skin renewal cycle can be interrupted, resulting in dry and flaky skin.
It is no different with your nail beds, unfortunately. They take their growth cues from the thyroid and a dearth of hormone leaves them brittle and weak.
If you notice that your hair is coarse, thinning, breaking, or even missing you may have a thyroid issue. Low thyroid levels can wreak havoc on your hair’s growth and renewal. Your hair may lose volume in general and become less thick.
This doesn’t apply to only the hair on your head either. Some individuals with low thyroid hormone notice that the outside portion of their eyebrows start to thin. If you notice thinning or balding patches on your eyebrows or scalp, it would be worth mentioning it to your doctor.
Itchy, dry, and flaky skin is another sign that your thyroid levels could be off-balance. Those with low thyroid hormones notice that they have to apply a great deal more lotion to keep skin looking healthy and stave off the itch.
Skin can become pale as well as the top cells begin to die and are not immediately replaced by a new healthy layer. In the worst-case scenario, individuals may struggle with dry, cracking skin, and even eczema symptoms.
Your nails may also be a good indicator of thyroid function. If they appear brittle and weak, you could have low thyroid hormones. Most people will note an increase in hangnails, ridges, splitting or peeling, and even dry cuticles.
If you have any of these signs, it does not necessarily mean that you have hypothyroidism. However, if you are chronically experiencing these symptoms it might be a good idea to test your thyroid to see how it is functioning.
There are a few ways in which you can treat the effects of an underactive thyroid and boost your beauty routine.
Treating the Source
If you are found to be hypothyroid, your doctor will likely prescribe medication. This medication will be in the form of synthetic thyroid hormones. With the correct dosage and medication type, your beauty woes may be solved once your levels return to normal.
There are some specially formulated creams and lotions that can help with dry skin, hair, and nails. Gels with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and glycolic and retinoic acids can help to boost cell turn over, prevent wrinkles, and provide moisture. As always, it is important to protect your skin with a daily application of sunscreen.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements
Various vitamins and minerals may increase new cell growth and fortify your hair, skin and nails. Some common supplements include collagen, antioxidants, biotin, and calcium.
However, biotin may interfere with thyroid labs and skew the results. This could make your test results appear hyperthyroid or hypothyroid. Therefore, it is important to discuss any supplements with your doctor before beginning a regimen.
A healthy diet composed of natural foods and limiting processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol will help your outward appearance from the inside. Peptides and lipids are natural oils that are important to healthy hair, skin, and nails. These can be found in eggs, nuts, and avocados.
Antioxidants can provide your skin with a lift when eaten in addition to being applied topically. Anti Inflammatory foods like ginger and turmeric may boost your endocrine system so that it can provide the proper growth cues to your cells.
Your thyroid affects many body processes, namely cell renewal in regards to beauty. If your body is giving you signals that your thyroid hormones may be lacking, consider talking to a specialized thyroid doctor. There are many at-home and over the counter remedies, you can try to get back to looking and feeling your absolute best.
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