Hair loss due to diabetes

Diabetes is a curse of the modern society and stress, sedentary lifestyle and fast food have a major part to play in its occurrence. According to the findings of the International Diabetes Federation in 2007, the country with the largest number of people with diabetes is India (40.9 million). WHO has cautioned that India is all set to become the diabetes capital of the world by 2050. Due to our high-calorie/high-fat diets, lack of exercise and stressful lifestyles, diabetes is on the rise, striking people earlier than the usual age.

People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are more prone than the rest of the general population to damage of the eyes, kidney, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Another lesser known consequence of diabetes is hair loss. Dr Apoorva Shah explains the inter-relation between the two.

Diabetes negatively affects the body’s circulatory system. This means that less amount of nutrients and oxygen reach the upper and the lower extremities of the body i.e. the feet and the scalp areas. If diabetes is causing poor blood circulation to the scalp, the hair follicles will die resulting in hair loss. Furthermore, this poor circulation may prevent further hair growth. So not only is diabetes causing the loss of your existing hair, it is also preventing the growth of new ones.

Diabetes brings about hormonal imbalance in a patient’s body. These hormonal changes may be manifested through hair loss. This also explains the reason behind hair loss during pregnancy and at menopause.

Drugs that are used to treat diabetes may also lead to hair loss. If you feel that particular regimens are causing distressful hair loss, then consult your doctor to get your prescription modified.

Diabetes may weaken the immune system, making it susceptible to other diseases. This weakened immunity may lead to scalp conditions like ringworm or other fungal diseases which in turn may cause hair fall.

Autoimmune diseases such as skin rashes and thyroid dysfunctions can be a part and parcel of people suffering from diabetes and these diseases are known to cause massive hair loss.

Diabetes may lead to high levels of oxidative stress. The unstable free radicals generated in the body due to this may also lead to considerable hair loss.

Another important factor is that the healing and rejuvenation time in diabetics is comparatively slower than in normal individuals. This leads to significant hair reduction, as diabetics cannot maintain the average cycle of regrowth.

Hair loss during diabetes is sometimes attributed to telogen effluvium. All hair have a growth phase, termed anagen, and a resting phase, namely telogen. In normal people, 5-15% of the hair on the scalp is in telogen at any given time. Telogen effluvium is a condition triggered when a physiologic stress or hormonal change like diabetes causes a large number of hair to enter telogen at one time leading to diffused hair shedding.

So resist the urge to just curl up on your couch in front of the television with a bag of chips and get set on the goal of controlling diabetes if you want to preserve your lustrous locks.

If you notice unwarranted hair loss, it is very important that you seek immediate medical assistance. Since hair loss can cause untold trauma, lack of self esteem, and social anxiety, it is also advisable to visit a trichologist and get an expert’s opinion about your condition.