In people suffering from diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not use it effectively – maybe both. As one of the body’s most important hormones, insulin is responsible for breaking down dietary sugar and storing it in your cells for energy. In patients who do not effectively create or use insulin, sugar may build up in the blood. This can cause damage to the nervous system, organs, and blood vessels. These damaged blood vessels are less capable of carrying oxygen and nutrients around the body and can lead to further health complications throughout the body, including hair loss.
Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss?
In short, yes, diabetes can lead to hair loss. To understand how this happens, it is first important to understand the hair growth cycle. Typically, hair grows through three stages – anagen, catagen, and telogen. During the anagen (growth) phase, hairs typically grow 1-2cm a month over the span of 1-2 years. After this, the hair enters a resting phase (catagen) for up to 3 months before falling out (telogen).
In people experiencing diabetes, due to lower blood glucose, this process can be slowed down – or even stopped. Diabetes has been shown to cause more hair loss than normal. Further, this hair loss is not limited to the scalp but may occur all across the body.
Diabetes is known to cause alopecia areata in men and women. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles. This can lead to patches across the scalp, face, and/or body.
Additionally, the stress of living with a chronic illness, as well as the side effects of certain diabetes medications, can further exacerbate this hair loss. These symptoms may appear in patients with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Dealing With Hair Loss From Diabetes
If you have diabetes and begin to experience any hair loss, consult your doctor immediately. This can be especially worrying if the hair loss is on the body/arms/legs as this may be a sign of reduced blood flow.
If your hair loss is determined to be related to your diabetes, you may need to alter your diet, medications, or lifestyle. Once you have managed to rebalance your blood sugar levels, you should notice a reduction in hair loss as well as regrowth of lost hair.
Treatments for Diabetes Hair Loss
For patients whose hair loss is not responding to changes in treatment, there are a few medications that have been shown to assist in hair loss prevention.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is one of the most commonly used treatments for hair loss. As a topical ointment, it is simply rubbed into the areas where hair loss is present. Results typically take a few weeks/months to appear and will continue only as long as the medication is used. Safe for both men and women, minoxidil is available without a prescription.
Finasteride (Propecia) is a prescription-only medication only approved for use in men over 18 years of age. It has been proven to regrow hair on the scalp lost due to alopecia areata. Finasteride is a once-daily tablet and, like Minoxidil, will only work as long as the medication is continued.
Biotin is a vitamin commonly found in foods such as peanuts, eggs, oats, and fatty fish. Biotin supplements are available at any drug store. Biotin is well-known for its role in combating hair loss and promoting hair growth.
Hair Transplants With Diabetes
Patients suffering from diabetes are eligible for hair transplants. As a metabolic disorder, diabetes patients do need to take extra care during the healing process to prevent high blood sugar levels. Regulating and maintaining a healthy blood flow to the newly transplanted hairs is key to a successful operation.
At the Dr Serkan Aygin clinic, we specailise in the most modern hair transplant techniques such as Follicular Unit Extraction and Direct Hair Implantation. These are both truly permanent solutions to hair loss. Dr Aygin has 25 years of experience in the field of hair restoration and has helped over 15,000 patients with a hair regrowth rate of 98%.
Contact us today to schedule your full, free consultation.