Diabetes is a common health condition. It affects over 10% of the world’s population, a figure that is expected to rise to 12% by 2045. If you don’t have it yourself, you’re likely to have a friend, family member or work colleague who does. If that’s the case, you may be familiar with how it affects people. There’s a good chance, however, that you didn’t know diabetes can cause hair loss. It’s not a widely known fact.
This article is going to examine what diabetes is, how it affects your hair and what you can do about it. Keep scrolling to learn more!
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious health condition that leads to dangerously high blood sugar levels in those affected. The condition takes two forms: in type 1 diabetes, the cells responsible for insulin production are targeted by the body’s immune system. Type 2 diabetes arises when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or when the cells fail to respond to insulin. There is another stage of diabetes, known as pre-diabetes, which is when insulin levels in the body are high, but not elevated enough to be categorised as diabetes.
If you’re diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you will be on insulin injections for the rest of your life. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a progressive condition. While you won’t require daily insulin shots, your condition will be monitored, and you may need some medication in the future.
Why Does it Affect Your Hair?
Undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes sees a spike in blood sugar levels that causes damage to the body’s organs, tissues and blood vessels. In extreme circumstances, this can be fatal. Less dramatically, damage to the blood vessels results in restricted blood flow and a corresponding drop in the nutrients and oxygen available to the body’s cells, including hair follicle cells. This can interrupt the hair growth cycle and result in hair loss.
People who suffer from type 1 diabetes are also more vulnerable to alopecia areata than those who don’t. This shouldn’t be a total surprise, as both are classed as autoimmune diseases, conditions in which the immune system attacks healthy cells.
Diabetes can also be an indirect cause of hair loss. Like other personal health crises and illnesses, the condition can put enormous stress on an individual. This can lead to a form of hair loss known as telogen effluvium which pushes a greater percentage of your hair than normal into the resting stage of the growth cycle. This hair then proceeds to the shedding stage, so it can look and feel like you’re losing a colossal amount of hair in a short period.
People can live with type 2 diabetes for years without realising they have a problem. Symptoms include being constantly thirsty, urinating more than usual, feeling fatigued, weight loss and blurred vision. If you’re experiencing a combination of any of these, you should see your doctor without delay.
Type 1 diabetes tends to develop more quickly and reach a crisis point within days. Be careful not to self-diagnose your problem; don’t embark on any dietary or lifestyle changes aimed at managing diabetes without first confirming with your doctor that you have the condition!
If you have a diagnosis of diabetes and you manage the condition effectively, you should not experience any hair loss because of the disease. Management is done by monitoring your blood sugar levels closely and by taking any medication prescribed for you.
Lifestyle changes can also make an important contribution to your management of the condition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with an emphasis on fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and foods high in fibre is highly recommended. Your doctor or healthcare provider will be happy to provide you with a diet sheet.
Taking regular exercise can also help keep the condition under control. Exercise doesn’t have to involve expensive sports gear and two hours on the treadmill at your local gym. Walking, cycling, swimming and gardening can all provide the sort of moderate exercise you need.
If you’re feeling stressed by diabetes or its management, meditation and mindfulness exercises can help keep your head in a good place.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you will already be familiar with much of what has been written above about the condition. You may not have known about its impact on your hair, however. If you haven’t had a diagnosis but recognise some of the symptoms we’ve described, you should arrange to see your doctor without delay.
Vinci Hair Clinic is here to help with all your hair loss problems. We’re one of the leading hair restoration organisations in the world, with a network of clinics spanning the globe. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients, in person or over the phone using photographs. Get in touch and book an appointment today!