Diabetes hair loss is not a new concept. Diabetes can have many adverse affects on the body, including hair loss or thinning hair. The majority of the time the hair loss grows back, though in some instances it may be permanent.
This can be scary and extremely distressing, both for men and women. We value our hair, as it is closely tied to our identity and our personal style. You can’t deny that feeling of awesomeness when you first walk out of the salon or barber shop after a fresh new cut.
Luckily, diabetes hair loss can be controlled and treated with the right methods. Let’s take a deeper look into the root causes and what you can do about it.
The Role of Insulin in Diabetes Hair Loss
Insulin is a hormone created in the pancreas that allows your body to utilize glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates. The insulin moves those sugars from the bloodstream to the cells, where they are either used as energy or stored for later use.
If you have diabetes, either your body doesn’t produce this vital hormone (Type 1 diabetes), it doesn’t use it effectively (Type 2 diabetes), or both. This can result in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream.
This excess sugar can cause a variety of problems including:
- Damaging the body’s organs including the eyes, nerves and kidneys.
- Damaging the blood vessels, which may prevent them from delivering enough oxygen to nourish organs and tissues, including hair follicles.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can cause hair loss.
Why Does Diabetes Cause Hair Loss?
Diabetes hair loss is very complex and reasons for it are diverse. This makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what might be causing your hair loss. Let’s discuss some of the potential culprits.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a disruption of your body’s hormones. Hormones are very complex substances that work intricately together to control many bodily actions, including hair health and hair growth. Fluctuating hormone levels due to diabetes can negatively affect the regeneration process of hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
As we’ve already mentioned, diabetes can damage blood vessels. Just like other organs and tissues, hair follicles rely on good blood circulation to deliver enough nutrients to nourish them and promote healthy hair growth. When they don’t get the nutrients needed, hair growth can be affected. This can cause a loss of body hair as well.
Immune System Deficiency
Autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes, occur when the immune system accidentally attacks healthy tissues, thinking they are foreign invaders. This leaves them more prone to infection and with a reduced ability to fight infection. Infections can result in a disrupted hair growth cycle.
Diabetes is an ongoing condition that can be difficult to cope with, leading to chronic emotional stress. Several studies have linked severe psycho-emotional stress to the onset of alopecia areata, or hair loss that generally occurs in patches.
A variety of different medications prescribed for conditions that may be associated with diabetes, may cause hair loss. These include cholesterol-lowering drugs, weight loss pills, thyroid medications, antidepressants and certain antibiotics. WebMD has a full list of medications that can cause hair loss.
What You Can Do About Diabetes Hair Loss
While hair loss can be extremely distressing and can affect your self-esteem, there is good news. Most hair loss is not permanent and can be reversed with the right approach.
Here are some tips on how to treat or manage your hair loss.
Talk with Your Doctor
The first and most important step is to talk with your doctor. Hair loss is quite complex and can exist for a number of reasons, not always relating to diabetes. Your doctor can help to rule out possible causes and lead you to the right course of action.
Eat for Your Hair
What you eat has a huge impact on all aspects of your health, including your hair! Sometimes a lack of nutrients, such as too little protein or iron, can cause hair to fall out. Making sure you’re eating a proper diet with all the essential nutrients can help prevent or reverse hair loss.
A healthy diet is also one of the best ways to balance out hormones. This can aid in hair health and growth in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly.
Mirror.co.uk has listed out some great foods for promoting hair health.
Get in Regular Exercise
Exercise aids in weight loss and hormone balance, which can help to reduce hair loss. Further, exercise can reduce your blood sugar levels and improve blood circulation within the body, making oxygen delivery more accessible to hair follicles in order to nourish and help them grow.
Keep Stress at Bay
We’ve noted that stress can be a cause of hair loss. Check out this article on how to minimize your stress.
Consider Hair Treatment
For severe hair loss you may want to talk with your doctor about hair treatments or medication, such as Minoxidil (Rogain).
There are other techniques you can try if your hair does not grow back in. Try things like wigs, hairpieces, coloring your hair to make it look fuller, fill-in powder or visiting the hairdresser and getting a cut that better hides the hair loss.
If you’ve been affected by diabetes hair loss, don’t fret! It may be as simple as making a few healthy lifestyle changes that will result in those luscious locks growing back. What’s even better, those healthy habits can also improve your diabetes symptoms! Talk about a win-win!