Over 25% of individuals globally suffer from iron insufficiency, one of the most prevalent vitamin deficiencies. 

Lack of iron can result in a number of symptoms, including fatigue, a faster-than-normal pulse, and tongue soreness. Your skin, hair, and nails might also show some indications of deficiency.

The symptoms of iron deficiency can appear in different body parts, and the telltale indicators are usually noticeable in your skin, hair, and nails. The vital dietary mineral iron serves a variety of purposes for the body’s growth and development. 

Iron helps in making myoglobin, which transports oxygen to the muscles and is necessary for the creation of several hormones, requires the development of haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that distributes oxygen from the lungs to all areas of the body. Fatigue, weakness, chest discomfort, numbness in the hands, and pain or soreness in the tongue are symptoms of low iron.

Lack of iron in the diet, ongoing bleeding, failed pregnancy, and exhaustion during strenuous activity are common causes of iron insufficiency. If a person is unable to absorb iron, they may become iron deficient. By including foods high in iron in the diet, iron deficiency can be remedied.

Signs of iron deficiency in your skin, hair & nails

  1. Hair fall

Haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen to every area of the body, is produced in large part thanks to iron. Iron deficiency makes it more difficult for the body to get oxygen to the cells that promote the growth of your hair and nails. Your hair starts to thin down and fall out as a result of this. According to research, hair loss brought on by an iron shortage may affect mostly females who are at reproductive age.

Iron deficiency can cause hair loss that resembles hormonal hair loss, with thinning around the hairline, crown, and centre of the head. If you have a severe iron deficiency, you may have increased hair loss and may be able to see more of your scalp when your hair is wet or when you’re in a highly illuminated environment.

  1. Skin turns pale

The red blood cells’ haemoglobin gives the blood its red colour. Therefore, when the body lacks iron, the blood becomes less red, which makes the skin appear paler than usual or lose its warmth.

  1. Nails become weak

Koilonychia, often known as brittle or spoon-shaped fingernails, is a rather uncommon sign of iron insufficiency. Usually, it starts with weak nails that break easily. When iron deficiency is left untreated for a long time, it can eventually result in spoon-shaped nails, which are rounded and have a curve with a dip in the centre and raised edges. It only appears in extreme situations of iron shortage and is an uncommon sign.

  1. Damaged and dry hair 

It is normal to lose some strands of hair in a day, however, if you notice excess hair in your brush or on your pillow it could be a sign that something is not right. 

A lack of iron might be indicated by dry, damaged hair. When your body lacks iron, it decreases the amount of haemoglobin in your blood, which prevents the hair cells from getting enough oxygen and inhibits hair growth. Skin and hair become brittle and dry when they don’t get enough oxygen.

  1. Inner eyelids are paler

Normally, the lower eyelids’ inside are bright red in colour. However, iron insufficiency results in a pale appearance on the inner of the lower eyelids. It frequently occurs in mild to severe iron-deficient patients. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms of iron deficiency that specialists would check for. It could be the sole location where iron insufficiency is noticeable in those with dark skin.

Final thoughts 

The most prevalent kind of anaemia in the world is iron deficiency anaemia.

The degree of the anaemia influences how severe the symptoms are, however, some people have obvious signs while others have none at all.

Fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, and dry or damaged hair and skin are typical symptoms.

Consult a doctor if you believe you are experiencing iron deficiency symptoms. Self-diagnosis is never advised.

The majority of cases of iron deficiency can be effectively treated with an iron-rich diet or iron supplements if a doctor so prescribes it.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Can lack of iron affect your nails?

Yes, a lack of iron can make our nails weak and brittle. In later stages of iron deficiency, spoon-shaped nails may occur, meaning that the middle of your nail dips and the edges raise to give a rounded appearance like a spoon.

What does low iron do to your skin?

When the body lacks iron, the blood becomes less red, which makes the skin appear paler than usual or lose its warmth.

Can low iron cause dry skin?

Yes, low iron or iron deficiency can cause dry skin. 

What does low iron make you look like?

Iron deficiency anaemia signs and symptoms may include:

  •  extreme fatigue
  • weakness
  • pale skin

Does iron deficiency cause body aches?

Headache, and muscle and joint pain are associated with iron deficiency. 

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Written by: Anjali Sharma