When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin, doesn’t use it effectively, or both. This makes sugar build up in your blood. Which 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.
Hair Growth Cycle and Diabetes
Diabetes is not only causing the loss of your existing curls, it is also preventing the growth of new ones. Hair usually goes through three phases. During the active growing phase, which lasts for two years or more, hairs grow at a rate of 1 to 2 cm per month. Hair then goes into a resting phase, which lasts for about 100 days. After this phase, some of the resting hair falls out.
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.
What happens is that diabetes interrupts the hair growth process and slowing it down. This means that you can lose hair all over your body, not just the head. Even when hair regrows, it does so at a slower than normal rate.
How Does Diabetes Affect My Hair Growth?
People with diabetes are more likely to have a condition called alopecia areata. Because of alopecia, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, leading to patches of hair loss on the head and on other parts of the body.
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 shedding. All follicles 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.
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.
You may also lose hair as a side effect of stress from living with a chronic illness. The unstable free radicals generated in the body due to high levels of oxidative stress, may also lead to considerable hair loss.
What did we learn from all this?
Diabetes may weaken the immune system, making it susceptible to other diseases. This weakened immunity may lead to scalp conditions which in turn may cause shedding all over the body.
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.