Can Diabetes Affect Your Hair?

Did you recently get diagnosed with diabetes? Have you noticed more and more hairs on your brush? Or perhaps you’ve been living with diabetes for a long time, but it’s still worth considering whether the disease could be contributing to your hair loss. 

Hair loss falls into three categories: alopecia androgenetica, alopecia areata, and telogen effluvium. 

Alopecia androgenetica is characterized by male pattern baldness, and it can happen to box sexes due to hormone changes. Alopecia areata develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, and telogen effluvium is hair loss that occurs as a response to stress.

We asked our board-certified hair transplant specialist, Martin Maag, MD, to explain how Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can influence your hair, and what treatments are available for diabetes-induced hair loss.

Diabetes often goes hand in hand with other autoimmune issues 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. 

Unfortunately, this type of diabetes is often accompanied by other immune issues such as alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that may cause your hair to fall in patches that resemble a large coin. 

To reduce autoimmune responses, you may have to lower your exposure to pollutants, eat a healthy diet low in sugar and low in trans fats, and look for ways to reduce inflammation in your body. 

Hair loss caused by autoimmune responses is often treated successfully with corticosteroids injected into the problem area on the scalp.

Medication that lowers blood glucose may increase your chance of losing hair

Metformin, one of the most widely used medications for blood sugar control, can indirectly cause hair loss by preventing the absorption of vitamin B12 in the gut. 

If you take metformin, speak with your provider about alternatives, or ask your doctor about dietary interventions that may enable you to take a smaller dose. 

High blood sugars impact circulation in the scalp 

Diabetes is characterized by excess glucose in the bloodstream. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage organs, tissues, and blood vessels. 

When your blood vessels get damaged, your body can’t properly transport oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles, which can damage the hair growth cycle. 

The best way to avoid hair loss due to high blood sugar is to focus on eating a diet made up of  foods with a low glycemic index.

Regrow hair with diabetes 

The number one priority when regrowing hair with diabetes is eliminating problematic foods and becoming more active. Taking these steps allows you to take more control over your blood sugar levels with smaller doses of medications. 

Although this approach can prevent your hair loss from worsening, your hair follicles may need a boost to become active again. 

Dr. Maag has experience with a large number of hair restoration treatments, including medications, topicals, low-laser treatment, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, and hair transplantation. Schedule an appointment with him to find out how you can get your hair back.

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