Each day, around 700 people are diagnosed with diabetes.

It affects around 4 million people in the UK, while approximately 500,000 of those living with it have yet to be diagnosed.

Diabetes has a number of effects on the body, including hair loss.

This can be difficult for anyone to experience at any age, particularly if you feel your hair is one of your key defining traits.

But why does diabetes cause hair to fall out, and what treatment options are available?

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What is diabetes?
  • Common types of diabetes
  • Why diabetes causes hair loss
  • What options are available if you’re affected by diabetes-related hair loss?

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition that leaves the body unable to produce a healthy amount of insulin, a natural hormone created by the pancreas.

Insulin plays a crucial role in converting food into energy: it transports glucose from the blood to cells throughout the body, which break it down to create energy.

But for those affected by diabetes, one of two problems may occur: the body lacks the insulin required to move the glucose, or the insulin which is produced is unable to perform its function.

And if the body cannot break down glucose into energy, blood sugar levels become higher than they should be.

Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of weight and/or muscle mass
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Feeling more thirsty than is normal
  • Cuts/wounds take longer to heal
  • Unusual itching around the vagina or penis
  • Experiencing thrush more frequently than before

Common types of diabetes

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 (which affects around 90 per cent of people living with diabetes).

Type 1: the immune system attacks cells responsible for producing insulin, destroying them

Type 2: the body is unable to produce a healthy amount of insulin, or its cells fail to react to insulin properly

Pregnant women may develop gestational diabetes if they have high blood glucose levels and they lack the right amount of insulin to absorb it.

Why diabetes causes hair loss

Sugar accumulating in the blood may damage blood vessels, preventing them from carrying oxygen to hair follicles.

And when the body can no longer break glucose down into energy, the follicles will be unable to create new hair.

As a result, diabetes can disrupt the hair growth cycle and trigger gradual hair loss.

Follicles which shed hair will be unable to produce replacements, leading to the appearance of hair loss.

Hair growth may return to normal when you get your blood sugar levels back under control, albeit at a slower rate than you might be used to.

Your doctor may prescribe medications if hair growth fails to resume.

Speak to your GP if you’re experiencing hair loss and/or any of the common diabetes symptoms.

The risk of diabetes-related hair loss may be reduced, though, if you can keep your blood sugar levels stable.

For type 1 diabetes, regular insulin injections are required for the rest of your life.

With type 2 diabetes, regular exercise, a healthy body weight, and adopting a healthier diet can all help.

Exercise is so important because it reduces sugar levels within the bloodstream and helps the body deliver oxygen to cells — including the hair follicles.

You should also try to avoid stress as much as possible, as this can trigger hormonal changes that affect hair growth over time.

But hair transplant surgery may be an option if diabetes has disrupted your hair growth cycle.

Cutting-edge technologies and techniques empower hair restoration experts to transplant healthy hair from ‘donor’ areas to thinning/balding zones on the scalp. This creates seamless, natural results with no visible scarring.

Great care is critical, though, to ensure people affected by diabetes remain safe and comfortable during hair transplants.

Blood sugar levels must be monitored closely.

HairPalace’s team offers in-depth consultations in multiple locations throughout the UK.

This offers our experts an opportunity to assess your hair loss, discuss your health status, and to determine if hair transplant surgery is the right option for you.

To learn more about our hair transplants in the UK, get in touch today!

FAQ

What does diabetes do to your hair? 

Scalp circulation can be severely affected by high blood sugar levels. Diabetes that remains unmanaged can cause harm to tissues, blood vessels, and organs. And damaged blood vessels can’t deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles properly, which can affect hair growth.

How do you stop hair loss from diabetes? 

For people living with diabetes, hair loss may be slowed or stopped entirely. One option is to keep blood sugar levels stable and manage stress. It’s vital to monitor blood sugar levels frequently to maintain a healthy balance.

Can hair loss from diabetes grow back? 

Once you get control of your diabetes, hair loss should decrease. Hairs that have fallen out may start to regrow gradually.

What diabetic medication causes hair loss?

It’s believed that patients taking metformin may experience hair loss. Someone living with type 2 diabetes could lose both eyelash and eyebrow hair after taking sitagliptin (an alternative diabetes drug).