Diabetes and Hair Loss: Is There a Link?

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

diabetes cause hair loss
Living with diabetes, hypertension or any other chronic disease requires you to do multiple things – track vitals, take medicines & stay on top of your health at all times. If this overwhelms you, switch to Phable – India’s No. 1 BP & Sugar Management App to manage your condition better. Take charge of your health and stay connected with doctors, order medicines and do a whole lot more from the comfort of your home.
By now, you must be aware of how having Type 2 Diabetes can be detrimental to your health. It can adversely affect your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart, and cause several other complications. But does diabetes cause hair loss too? Are you wondering if your hair fall is due to diabetes? Let us find out about the factors that cause hair fall in diabetes and if this hair loss can be reversed.
Contents:
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    Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss?
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    How Do You Prevent Hair Loss From Diabetes?
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    Is Hair Loss From Diabetes Reversible?
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    Are There Any Treatments for Diabetes Hair Loss?
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    When to See a Doctor?
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
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    FAQs
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Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss?

Hair fall due to diabetes is a common yet under-reported complication. Diabetes can lead to hair fall, hair thinning, breakage, and hair damage.. The following are the reasons for hair loss due to diabetes.
  • High Blood Sugar Levels 

High blood glucose levels can damage the small blood vessels that supply blood and nutrition to the hair follicles. This can lead to poor blood circulation. This causes reduced oxygenation and nutrient supply to the hair follicles, leading to the hair follicle withering and becoming damaged. This is the main reason for impaired hair growth and hair loss in diabetics.
  • Stress and Cortisol 

Being diagnosed and living with Type 2 Diabetes can be stressful. When your body is under stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol. Persistently elevated cortisol levels can cause several physiological changes in your body, hair fall being one of them. Cortisol can negatively affect the hair growth cycle by interfering with the production of certain elements (hyaluronan and proteoglycans) that are crucial for the regulation of hair growth.

How Do You Prevent Hair Loss From Diabetes?

Hair fall caused by diabetes can be prevented by maintaining normal blood sugar levels. This can help preserve blood circulation to your hair follicles, which can prevent hair loss. Learning to effectively manage stress by meditating, getting better sleep, exercising regularly, being mindful, etc. can also help you avoid hair fall. Additional measures like regular scalp massages, avoiding tightly braided hairstyles which put stress on your hair roots, limiting the use of chemicals and products on your hair, and reducing exposure to heat and pollution can also prevent further hair loss.

Is Hair Loss from Diabetes Reversible?

Unfortunately, hair loss caused by high blood sugar levels cannot be reversed, as the blood vessels and hair follicles that are damaged cannot be restored again. However, it is possible to prevent further hair loss by managing your blood sugar levels effectively.

Hair loss caused by stress is mostly reversible. The earlier you detect stress-related hair fall, the more success you may have in reversing it.

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Are There Any Treatments for Diabetes Hair Loss?

Hairfall due to diabetes is caused by damaged blood vessels. Currently, there is no treatment to repair damaged blood vessels. However, further hair loss can be prevented with good glycemic control. Regular scalp massages and stimulation can improve blood circulation to the follicles and thus prevent further hair loss.   The following are some of the treatments that may help in diabetes-related hair fall.
  • Supplements 

Nutrients like biotin (vitamin B7), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, etc., can nourish your hair follicles and make them stronger. This can help prevent hair fall and stimulate hair growth.
  • Topical medication

Medications like minoxidil can help prevent further hair loss and stimulate new hair growth. Minoxidil works by shortening the resting stage of hair growth and stimulating and prolonging the growing stage. Consult a dermatologist before starting treatment with minoxidil.
  • Protein-rich plasma (PRP)

This procedure comprises isolating proteins and growth factors that are beneficial for hair growth from a vial of your own blood. These growth factors are then injected into your scalp. This procedure is thought to stimulate blood circulation to the hair follicles, which may help in hair growth.   Traditional forms of treatment like hair follicle transplants are expensive and may not work as the damaged blood vessels may be unable to support the transplanted follicles.

When to See a Doctor?

Type 2 diabetics should make regular appointments with their doctor to effectively control the condition. If you notice increased hair fall, discuss the use of supplements for improving hair quality with your physician. In case of any major lifestyle changes, medication use, or prolonged illness, you can explore hair loss treatment strategies.  

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Hair loss is an often overlooked complication in people with diabetes.
  • High blood sugar levels can damage the small and delicate blood vessels that supply oxygen and nourishment to your hair follicles, causing hair loss.
  • Other causes of hair loss in diabetes include high cortisol levels and stress, which can interfere with your hair growth cycle.
  • Diabetes hair loss caused by damage to the blood vessels and the hair follicle is irreversible. Diabetes hair loss caused by stress can be reversed in most cases.
  • Diabetes hair loss can be prevented or controlled by maintaining normal and stable blood sugar levels, and by managing stress and lowering cortisol levels.
  • Traditional hair loss treatments like supplements, topical minoxidil, protein-rich plasma injections etc., can help prevent further hair fall, but may not be useful in treating damaged blood vessels that are attached to the hair follicles.
  • You should see a doctor for diabetes-related hair fall in case of major lifestyle changes, prolonged illness, etc., apart from regular follow-ups.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hair loss does not necessarily indicate diabetes. There can be many causes behind hair loss, and heredity and hormonal imbalance are its most common causes. However, if you are experiencing hair loss, you may get your blood glucose levels checked to rule out diabetes.

Hair loss in diabetics cannot be completely treated. It can be prevented and managed by bringing blood sugar levels back to normal, using topical medications like minoxidil, and taking hair growth supplements. In addition, diabetics should make healthy lifestyle changes and avoid hair styling practices that further damage the hair follicles.

A high sugar diet is not directly associated with hair loss. However, if you have uncontrolled diabetes, a high sugar diet will lead to increased blood glucose levels, which could cause hair loss.

Biotin or vitamin B7 is an essential micronutrient that is present in various food products that we consume daily. Biotin-rich foods include eggs, liver meat, nuts, seeds, legumes, bananas, etc. Diabetics can consume biotin-rich foods daily to improve their hair quality and prevent hair loss. It is also available as a supplement, which diabetics can take to meet the daily requirements. Though biotin is safe for consumption, consult your doctor or diabetologist before taking any supplements.

Metformin is an oral medication that is used to treat conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome). Both of these conditions can cause hair loss when left untreated. People who have Type 2 Diabetes and PCOS have reported decreased hair fall after beginning treatment with metformin. However, metformin should only be taken after consultation with a doctor 

Usually, uncontrolled high blood glucose levels for a prolonged duration are associated with hair loss. Extremely low blood glucose levels could lead to poor nutrition required for hair cell growth and which can also lead to hair loss. However, the chances are rare.

Metformin is not known to cause hair loss directly. However, in very rare cases, long-term use can cause a deficiency of iron and vitamin B12, which could lead to hair loss.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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