The root causes of unhealthy hair


Have you ever stared at the strands of hair filling your hairbrush or pulled a clump of hair from your head and thought, ‘Uh-oh?’ For some people, losing hair or experiencing thinning hair could be related to hereditary, hormonal or stress factors, or even deficiency in iron.

Pharmacy assistant Jaclyn Jensen says she has noticed a significant increase in the range of hair care products available in pharmacies and has been questioned multiple times by customers about hair care.

“The main goal I hear customers wanting to achieve is the overall general health of their hair,” she says.

“The younger demographic is particularly interested in the length and fullness of hair, while the older demographic wants to avoid fray and thinning hair.”

While Ms Jensen notes that the pharmacy she works at is small, so the number of customers asking for hair care help isn’t huge, she says it’s still important for pharmacy assistants to expand their knowledge on hair care products, due to the category’s expansion.

Lack of nutrients, lack of hair care 

Hair loss can be caused by a lack of nutrients, specifically when it comes to iron deficiency.¹

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and spokeswoman for Dietitians Australia Jane Freeman says iron deficiency is caused by reduced healthy red blood cells in the body.

“It’s sometimes picked up when the doctor [finds] a low level of haemoglobin,” she says.

“Haemoglobin is part of red blood cells’ oxygen. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, so your heart has to work a lot harder. So that’s obviously harder when you’re exercising or running upstairs [for example].”

A study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science found that not only may iron deficiency play a role in hair loss, but it may also cause hair to fall out similarly to genetic male- and female-pattern baldness.¹

It should be noted that hair loss via iron deficiency is not irreversible, and there are treatments available. If customers suspect an underlying issue may be responsible for their hair loss, it’s strongly recommended they see their GP and be referred to the appropriate specialist.

In the case of customers experiencing low levels of iron, Ms Jensen says that for pharmacy assistants it’s important to ensure the customer is being treated properly for their anaemia, or deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells.

“While it’s fine to suggest products to help strengthen hair, the root cause of the problem needs to be addressed,” says Ms Jensen.

“Provided it’s appropriate for the customer and alongside the treatment for their anaemia, a combination of vitamins and gentle shampoo and conditioner would help to promote healthier hair.”

To read the full feature as it appears in the latest issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants magazine, visit:  


  1. Healthline, 2018. ‘Iron deficiency and hair loss’.