At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
There are plenty of physical effects of anorexia on different areas of the body, but one of the most obvious ones is changes to the hair. For example, the hair on the head tends to become brittle or thin, and then fall out. At the same time, fine, downy hair may begin appearing all over the body in order to help keep it warm. These effects of anorexia on hair may not be the most obvious symptoms of the disease, but they are often noticeable to both those with anorexia and those close to someone with this issue.
Frequently, one of the most bothersome side effects of anorexia on hair includes changes to the hair on the head. One of the first signs is that hair often becomes thin and brittle. This is typically due to dehydration since those suffering from this eating disorder usually do not eat enough liquid-rich food, resulting in dry skin and hair, and even brittle nails. Typically, even the anorexic's consumption of water or calorie-free drinks cannot make up for the hydration that certain foods bring, such as fruits, vegetables, and soups. Therefore, only a healthy diet can usually help reduce this effect of anorexia on hair, resulting in lustrous, healthy tresses.
Another problem that often occurs with anorexia is the loss of hair on the head. It may not be extreme enough to make a person go completely bald, but it can result in less hair overall, and even bald spots eventually. While some gradual shedding of hair is normal in a healthy person, anorexic people typically leave behind much more hair than is typical. If there is a lot more hair than usual on a brush, comb, or pillow, this may be a sign of a negative effect of anorexia on hair. It is typically caused by inadequate ingestion of protein and iron, both of which are essential for proper hair growth.
The effects of anorexia on hair do not usually stop at the hair on the head, but also affect the body. Many people suffering from this eating disorder tend to develop downy body hair called lanugo, which the body needs to keep it warm. Many anorexics dress in layers, usually to keep warm at first, and then often to hide the fine hair that covers their skin. This is because lanugo, often also found on fetuses and premature babies, is usually a sign of malnutrition that may alert others to the eating disorder that is present. Fortunately, this effect of anorexia on hair often goes away once healthy eating is resumed.