Hair and microelements

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 20.11.2021

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We should dwell in more detail on the relationship of hair loss with the content of trace elements in the human body. The doctrine of microelementoses (MTOZs) as diseases, syndromes and pathological conditions caused by the excess, deficiency or imbalance of microelements in the human body is a huge new multidisciplinary scientific direction, better known to biologists, biochemists, physiologists, occupational pathologists, toxicologists and forensic experts, than representatives of clinical medicine. The world literature on microelements is essentially immense and in recent years has been increasing in an avalanche. The medical aspects of the doctrine of microelements have not been sufficiently developed and some important sections of the pathology of human microelements need a long and multifaceted research work. Pathological anatomy, histology and cytopathology of microelementoses are created only at the present time.

The human body is 99% composed of the 12 most common elements included in the number of the first 20 periodic table. Mendeleev University; they are called structural, basic, or macro elements. In addition to them in the human body in small (trace) quantities there are heavier elements - trace elements. 15 of them (iron, sub, copper, zinc, cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium, selenium, manganese, arsenic, fluorine, silicon, lithium) are recognized as essential, i.e. Vitally necessary 4 others (cadmium, lead, tin, rubidium) are considered "serious candidates for essentiality." Unlike all substances synthesized by the body, microelements enter the body from the geochemical environment. In humans, the main route of their entry is the gastrointestinal tract, where a highly specialized resorptive apparatus, associated with blood and lymphatic vessels, as well as with central and autonomic nervous and endocrine systems, is formed in the 12 duodenum. Participating in almost all biochemical processes regulating the vital functions of the organism at all stages of its development, microelements play a significant role in human adaptation in norm and pathology. Microelement homeostasis is an important link in the overall homeostatic system of the body. Each microelement has its inherent range of safe exposure, which maintains optimal tissue functions, and its toxic range when the degree of its safe exposure is exceeded. It is appropriate to recall the words of Paracelsus that "there are no toxic substances, but there are toxic doses".

Endogenous genetic and congenital microelementoses (Wilson-Konovalov's disease, Menkes disease, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlo syndrome) have long been known to clinicians and are caused by complex disturbances in copper metabolism.

Among the exogenous microelementoses, the authors distinguish natural, man-made and iatrogenic diseases. Natural are associated with the features of the biogeochemical environment. So, for a long time endemies of a fluorosis, seleno-toxicosis and selenium-deficiency and many others, having now the geography are known. Endemic goiter was treated with algae 4000 years ago.

Special alarm is caused by technogenic microelementoses. The problem of man-made (anthropogenic) pollution is so serious that it can not be ignored. The intoxications associated with an increased content of lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, nickel and other toxic trace elements from the group of heavy metals, have a negative impact not only on hair, but also on human health in general. It is proved that human hair is a store of microelements, and their concentration in hair can serve as an objective indicator of the content of microelements in the whole organism and in the environment. Large industrial cities represent extreme habitats. It is shown that the level of microelemental pollution of the environment correlates with the severity of the imbalance of immunological indices. The unfavorable situation affects children the most. For example, in 1988 in the city of Chernivtsi, the USSR described the outbreak of an unexplained illness of children with the syndrome of total alopecia and neurological symptoms, which testifies to the pathology of the hypothalamus.The study of soil, plants and biosubstrates (blood, urine and hair) revealed an increase in the content of a number of microelements, including thallium.

Working classification of human microelements

Microelementoses The main forms of diseases a brief description of
Natural Endogenous Congenital With congenital microelements, the underlying cause of the disease is the microelement of the mother
Hereditary With hereditary trace elements, insufficiency, excess or imbalance of microelements is caused by the pathology of chromosomes or genes
Natural Exogenous Caused by micronutrient deficiencies Natural, that is, not endemic to human activity and confined to specific geographical loci endemic diseases of humans, often accompanied by some pathological signs in animals and plants
Caused by excess micronutrients
Caused by an imbalance of microelements
Technogenic Industrial (professional) Man-related diseases and syndromes caused by the excess of certain trace elements and their compounds directly in the zone of production itself;
Neighborhood next to production;
Transgressive at a considerable distance from production due to air or water transfer of trace elements
Iatrogenic Caused by micronutrient deficiencies The rapidly increasing number of diseases and syndromes associated with the intensive treatment of various diseases with drugs containing trace elements, as well as with supportive therapy (for example, with full parenteral nutrition) and with certain therapeutic procedures - dialysis, which does not provide the body with the necessary level of vital microelements
Caused by excess micronutrients
Caused by an imbalance of microelements

In recent years, the importance of iatrogenic trace elements has increased, which is associated with the treatment of various diseases with preparations containing trace elements (iron, lithium, iodine, bromine, fluorine, mercury, bismuth, arsenic and many others), parenteral nutrition, hemodialysis, D-penicillamine therapy, L-histidine, cytostatics and other medications. It is advisable to include in the risk group all patients who underwent resection of the proximal parts of the small intestine and stomach, as well as pathological changes, especially atrophy, of the mucosa of these parts of the digestive tract (damage to the main zones of absorption of trace elements).

The microelemental status of the organism is also affected by bad habits, physiological conditions (pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, aging process).

It is easy to see that the causes of microelements in many positions coincide with the causes of diffuse (symptomatic) alopecia. It is not excluded that the above factors lead to a violation of microelement homeostasis and, as a result, to hair loss. The work in this direction is extremely promising.

According to AP Avtzin et al, a significant part of the microelementosis is undoubtedly not yet identified, the specific gravity of each of the microelementoses as a factor aggravating the course of diseases of other origin is poorly defined. Compared with the diverse and severe pathology caused by deficiency or excess of trace elements in agricultural and laboratory animals, the corresponding symptomatology of human pathology looks either poor or insignificant. It hardly reflects the actual state of affairs. The works dedicated to the purposeful study of the condition of the skin and its appendages (hair, nails) with microelementoses, are single.


It is known that copper is necessary for pigmentation and keratinization of wool in animals and hair in humans. With deficiency of copper hair lose elasticity; they contain more N-terminal groups of serine and glutamic acid, a significant amount of unoxidized sulfhydryl groups; there is a disruption of the formation of disulfide bridges in keratin. Thinner mechanisms of copper participation in the processes of keratinization remain unclear.

Menkes disease (syn: Menkes syndrome, curly hair disease) is a hereditary disease caused by a violation of absorption and transport of copper in the body; manifested with early childhood microcephaly, seizures, the presence of curly hair, devoid of pigment and their focal prolapse. It is inherited by the recessive, linked to the X-chromosome, type.

Deficiency of copper increases the predisposition to allergic dermatoses, bronchial asthma, vitiligo.

trusted-source[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]


Zinc deficiency in animals causes a change in appetite, growth retardation and puberty, infertility, parakeratosis, and alopecia.

Zinc-deficient state in humans is a major problem of normal development of children, since this microelement is one of the most important factors in the homeostasis of immunogenesis, reproduction and central nervous system.

Enteropathic acrodermatitis is a hereditary disease that occurs in children of both sexes aged 1-18 months as a result of zinc deficiency. This is a serious systemic disease with damage to the skin, nails and hair, gastrointestinal tract, blepharitis and photophobia, lag in physical development, frequent superinfection with fungi of the genus Candida and cocco flora. The disease begins with a lesion of the skin of the distal parts of the limbs, where foci of hyperemia with vesicle-bullous elements arise. Gradually the rashes become more common and can resemble a clinical picture of candidiasis, atopic dermatitis, bullous epidermolysis, psoriasis. Violation of hair growth is manifested by baldness and changes in the hair itself. Characteristic hair thinning in the fronto-parietal region or total hair loss of the scalp. Hair is thin, broken off, devoid of pigment. Complete absence of eyebrows and eyelashes is rare. Treatment is carried out by enteroseptol, which indirectly improves zinc absorption in the intestine, and zinc preparations.

It is known that in the hair of patients with extensive burns the content of zinc is lowered. The speed of wound healing directly correlates with the level of zinc in the hair, and ulcerative lesions of the lower extremities are healed faster when zinc sulphate is taken.


Hypomanganosis in children and adults can lead to a delay in the growth of hair and nails, contributes to the occurrence of allergic dermatitis.


In the hair of full-term children, the concentration of chromium is 2.5 times higher than that of their mothers. Childbirth, diabetes and atherosclerosis lead to a decrease in the concentration in the hair of this trace element. Excess intake, especially hexavalent chromium, can have an allergic effect (allergic dermatitis, eczema, asthmatic bronchitis).

trusted-source[8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]


Both deficiency and excess of selenium cause damage to the hair, nails and skin.


It concentrates in the stratum corneum of the skin and the cuticle of the hair, forming part of an alkali-insoluble component, which gives these substances chemical stability. Apparently, this microelement accumulates in the solid keratin of nail plates, since its deficiency causes the fragility of the nails.


Chronic intoxication with barium and its salts along with common symptoms is characterized by loss of hair on the head and eyebrows.

trusted-source[14], [15], [16]


It is proved that thallium is a selective poison for cells of hair follicles; a dose of 8 mg / kg is sufficient for total hair loss within 2-3 weeks. Tallotoxicosis is accompanied by atrophic changes in the skin and subcutaneous fat, a violation of keratinization. Histologically, a spindle-shaped thickening of the root part of the hair with a massive deposition of the black pigment is revealed. This pigment is deposited in the derma near the hair bulb, which is considered a pathognomonic sign of thallium poisoning.

Even more scant information is presented on the effect of the macro-element on the hair condition. So, it is indicated that calcium plays an important role in the functioning of various systems of the body, incl. And skin. It is known that patients with focal alopecia reduced the concentration of magnesium in the volos, and in psoriasis, arthritis and a number of therapeutic and endocrine diseases, the content of this trace element is increased.

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