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Although losing your hair is often seen as just a sign of ageing, it can also be linked to health problems such as diabetes. Almost a quarter of all cases of diabetes are undiagnosed, and therefore people who are experiencing hair loss may either be suffering from this underlying medical condition, or from insulin resistance or pre-diabetes, both of which are precursors to Type II Diabetes.
Why Does Diabetes Cause Hair Loss?
Research has shown that not only can diabetes slow down the growth rate of the hair, but it can also result in excessive hair shedding. There are several reasons why diabetes results in hair shedding including:
- Hormonal imbalances – fluctuating levels can negatively affect the hair follicles’ regeneration process
- Poor blood circulation – if blood cannot effectively reach the scalp, it may fail to receive the essential nutrients to keep it healthy resulting in hair loss
- Impaired immune system – as high levels of blood sugar can affect the immune system, sufferers may be more likely to catch infections and then struggle to fight them. Infections may disrupt the cycle of hair growth and result in thinning
- Physical stress
- Emotional stress
- Medications – some types of drugs can result in hair loss
- Thyroid disease – many diabetes sufferers have thyroid disease too which can cause hair loss
- Weight loss – when patients are diagnosed as having diabetes, a healthy diet together with more exercise will be recommended by the doctor. This may be result in weight loss which can then sometimes prompt hair loss.
What Action to Take
Should diabetes be the sole cause of hair loss, it may just be a temporary issue. Once you begin treatment, your hormones will begin to function properly once more and the cycle of hair growth will return back to normal, albeit potentially with a slower growth rate.
However, if you are still concerned or are looking for a way to address the problem in the meantime, there are several steps you should take.
- Discuss the problem with your doctor as they will be able to determine the cause and tell you whether it is solely because of diabetes or whether there are other factors at play.
- Reduce stress in your life as much as possible.
- Eat a healthy diet and include foods which are known to boost hair growth.
- Talk to your doctor about the medication you are taking if you are concerned that the hair loss could be a side effect. You may be able to change your drugs or take a different dose.
- Ask your doctor whether you should take a biotin supplement as those who suffer from diabetes often have a low level of biotin.
- Exercise more as this will lower levels of blood sugar and improve oxygen delivery to the cells and the hair follicles themselves to prompt hair growth.
- If you are experiencing severe hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a pharmaceutical treatment.
- Use a hair loss concealer spray which will disguise your hair loss and give your hair a fuller and thicker appearance.
If you are experiencing hair loss and have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes, you should visit your GP for testing. The more quickly you are diagnosed and treated the healthier you will be and the faster your hair loss will be rectified.