Hair loss is a relatively common problem throughout the global population. The hair strands that grow on our heads have a cycle that they go through. Once the strand reaches the end of its growth cycle, it falls out. The hair is then replaced by a new strand, which starts to grow from the follicle inside the scalp. Sometimes, hair loss happens to the point where it becomes noticeable. Around 64 million Americans who are 30 years old have some degree of hair loss, and the statistics grow as age increases.
People with diabetes may be more likely to lose hair, but this does not guarantee everyone with the condition will experience the issue. In this post, we explore the relationship that exists between diabetes and hair loss. We also consider precautionary measures that you can take from your side.
The Effects Of Diabetes On The Body And How It Affects Hair Growth
Let’s start by assessing what diabetes does to the body, especially in cases where poor management is implemented. In the case of diabetes, your body is not able to effectively utilize insulin or it doesn’t make enough of the hormone. Sometimes, diabetes causes both of these effects. Sugar starts to accumulate in the bloodstream when these effects are present in the body.
When there is too much glucose in the blood, it can cause damage to several parts of the body. This includes organs, as well as blood vessels and nerves. Long-term high blood sugar can cause problems like neuropathy, which is when there is a more serious level of damage dealt to nerves.
Now, when it comes to your hair, it is important to understand the important role that blood supply plays. There are small blood vessels that move blood toward your scalp. These blood vessels are also responsible for delivering oxygen to your scalp, which helps to provide nourishment for the follicles from which your hair grows.
When your blood sugar levels are high consistently, it can damage the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to your hair follicles. When this happens, the follicles may not be able to effectively grow new hair strands, which can lead to hair loss.
Other Factors That May Contribute To Hair Loss
While diabetes on its own can be a contributing factor to hair loss, it is important to note that there are other factors that can further contribute to this problem. When a person lives with diabetes, it puts a strain on them. The condition can cause mental stress and even contribute to problems like depression. Additionally, the disease causes physical stress on the body too.
One study explains that when we are under a significant amount of stress, the body releases excessive amounts of cortisol. This is a stress hormone that causes the body to enter a fight-or-flight response. Chronic stress, which often comes with a lifelong disease like diabetes, can cause a consistent release of cortisol. This can lead to hair growth disruption induced by constant cortisol exposure.
Another study reports that stress can result in a condition known as Telogen effluvium. This is a type of alopecia that does not result in the development of inflammation or cause scarring on the scalp tissue. It generally has a sudden onset due to other emotional or physiological stress.
Other than these, it is important to also consider the possibility that certain medications used to treat diabetes may sometimes result in disruption within the hair growth process.
Managing Hair Loss With Diabetes
There are strategies that can be used to reduce the risk of hair loss or even manage existing signs when you have diabetes. This all starts with proper diabetes management. When you do not manage your diabetes effectively, it significantly raises the risk of developing hair loss. This is due to the consistent sugar accumulation in your bloodstream, which can damage the blood vessels that are connected to your scalp. In addition to the diet you focus on, you should also ensure you exercise regularly. When you exercise every day, you may notice improvements in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Even light exercises like walking can be a good choice if you have limited time or are unable to participate in some of the more strenuous workouts.
Certain treatment strategies may also improve symptoms when you start to notice hair loss. If you are diagnosed with alopecia, then there are certain prescription medications that may help. This includes the use of a steroid medication, which assists in reducing the amount of inflammation that affects your scalp. There are topical treatments available too, such as Minoxidil. You will be advised to rub these treatments onto your scalp or specific areas where you experience hair loss. Men may also be prescribed a drug known as Propecia, which contains the main ingredient finasteride. This particular drug has not been approved for use among female patients, however.
Some people may also benefit from the use of increasing biotin in their diet. Sweet potatoes, peanuts, eggs, oats, onions, and almonds are all high in biotin. The nutrient is also called vitamin B7 or H. One thing to note is that biotin mostly works to reduce the rate of hair loss instead of regrowing hair that you have already lost.
For those who are having trouble managing their hair loss, hairpieces and wigs might be a good option. It can take some time to get used to the idea of wearing one of these pieces. You should carefully consider your options and can also use a wig as a temporary solution while you wait for other treatments to start showing results.
There are different ways in which diabetes can affect your health and body. This includes the possible risk of hair loss. Diabetes may sometimes impair the growth of hair or stop new hair strands from being developed. There are ways to counter these effects, with proper management of diabetes being particularly important. We looked at ways in which diabetes can cause hair loss and what you can do about it in this article.