Is Diabetes and hair loss Reversible

Diabetes is a tedious disease, it affects almost every organ in your body and as a result, even your hair can suffer. The good news is that once the underlying cause is treated your hair should return to normal. Many people are unaware that slow hair loss can sometimes be a sign of diabetes, and it has been found that Type 1 and Type 2 can lead to hair loss.

Studies have shown that insulin structures on the hair follicle can be influenced or harmed depending on the level of of insulin in the body, it also appears to dictate when hair follicles change from rest phase into the growth phase. If a patient has poor glycemic control which means a person is unable to control their blood sugar levels they are more likely to suffer from hair loss.

In some cases, early hair loss for men may be a early warning sign for pre-diabetes enabling doctors to start early therapy.

The Diabetes Hair loss link

High blood sugar also known as Hyperglycemia can disrupt the microenviroment of your hair follicle since this is a highly sensitive system that requires proper oxygen and nutrients. Any interruption to these "perfect conditions" can lead to the follicle damage resulting in thinning, fragile hair, lack of growth and ultimately balding. Alopecia areata is an auto-immune related condition that leads to hair loss and this has closely associated conditions including type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Scientific research into this topic is hard to find, so more work needs to be done to find the link between hair loss and Type 2 Diabetes mellitus.

Will hair loss from diabetes grow back?

Yes, Following the successful control of diabetes, it is indeed possible to have total hair regrowth. After treatment using insulin therapy, most cases of hair loss will cease. Research shows a link between diabetes and stress-related hair loss, others have found different autoimmune issues that are found in diabetics, these conditions are listed below:

  • Alopecia Areata:This is caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles, studies show it has common associated conditions including type 1 diabetes.
  • Telogen Effluvium: Caused by a stressful experience
Case Study of a Male suffering from Diabetes and hair loss
A 41-year-old man who suffered from high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), was admitted to the hospital, he also showed signs of alopecia areata (his immune system would attack the hair follicles), he was excessively thirsty and showed signs of patchy hair loss. After being treated using insulin replacement he's hair started to grow back 3 months later.

Hyperglycemia is a condition that causes several chronic severe conditions including:

  • Coronary artery disease: narrowing the arteries in the heart
  • Nephropathy: Disease affecting the kidneys
  • Peripheral arterial disease: Which are fatty deposits in your arteries

In general, Type 1 diabetes is caused when insulin-producing cells are killed by the immune system, and Type 2 diabetes is often related to weight gain or having a genetic predisposition in your family.

Type 1 diabetes and hair loss

If you notice a significant rate of hair loss it could be a sign of type 1 diabetes, this is caused by lack of insulin. While you have this condition your body is under immense stress which can cause different types of hair loss. Telogen Effluvium is caused when stress forces large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase, this means fewer hairs are growing and more are falling out.

Type 1 diabetes can either be slow to develop, or it can be quick and aggressive. Even though it is not well studied, the hair shaft diameter is significantly smaller in diabetics, children who were diabetic had reduced bulb diameters as compared to normal ones. Another study of 1400 women in Moscow found that obese and diabetic women had similar hair structures and increased levels of mineral damage.

Type 2 diabetes and hair loss

Some studies have indicated that female pattern baldness and type 2 diabetes are closely related, and the cause could be related to insulin resistance. This means that baldness in men or women could be an early warning for prediabetes, and later type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes simply means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but this is dangerous since it can often lead to full-blown diabetes.

The U.S. Department of Health reports that nearly 22 percent of Americans over the age of 18 suffer from prediabetes. So what is the link to between Type 2 diabetes hair thinning? It would seem that blood sugar is actually linked to hair loss, our bodies simply cannot deal with the shock of having elevated blood sugar levels. The body goes into survival mode, and hair follicles are one of the first things to suffer.

A study conducted in France found that there were a large number of patients suffering from hair thinning who were unaware they also had type 2 diabetes. Therefore it is wise to have your glucose level checked by a doctor.

What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone our bodies use to absorb glucose, it helps digest our food to create energy. After you eat, your pancreas releases insulin which is used by your bodies cells to absorb glucose. If you are insulin resistant your body does not respond well to insulin, which means your body starts to make more. Over time insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Why does diabetes cause hair loss?

There are a few possible reasons that could lead to hair loss across your entire scalp, which is known as "diffuse hair loss".

  • Poor blood circulation: Diabetes can lead to poor circulation which can interfere with the normal operation of your hair follicles, old hair strands die off and they are not replaced with a new one, in this way your hair will slowly start to look thinner.
  • Diabetes medication: The drugs used to treat diabetes sometimes have negative side effects, since some oral hypoglycaemics can cause your hair to become very thin
  • Psychological stress: Diabetes can put huge psychological stress on your body, leading to different conditions like Telogen Effluvium which is known to cause hair loss.

Can eating too much sugar make your hair fall out?

There are two parts to this question, firstly if you eat too much sugar what will happen? And Secondly, if gaining weight leads to diabetes then can it cause hair loss?

Firstly, if you eat too much sugar, you are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. This is because eating too much sugar causes weight gain, and excess body fat will increase your chances of developing diabetes. Even though sugar is a large factor in gaining weight, it cannot be seen as the only cause. There are other ways to become overweight including eating more calories than you burn, over time you will gain weight.

Secondly, if you develop diabetes you are more prone to suffer from conditions of the scalp, research shows that diabetes is linked to physical stress, auto-immune conditions, and even poor blood circulation. Therefore we believe that sugar can in some indirect way cause hair loss.

What can I do to promote hair growth?

It is strongly advised that you visit your doctor, you may already be on insulin which is a good way to regain your hair. You should also make sure you manage your diabetes using the following methods:

  • Diet and lifestyle: Follow a healthy lifestyle, make sure you check your blood sugar levels regularity
  • Medicine: Make sure you take any medication prescribed by your doctor.
  • Stress: Notice how your body reacts to stress, you can also get active and start exercising.

Rogaine for hair growth

Rogaine has been proven to regrow up to 25% more hair, so it might worth looking into. It is supposed to reactivate shrunken hair follicles, and some users have stated that it does actually work. Rogaine comes as a foam which can be applied directly to your scalp, as always it is best to consult your doctor before doing any kind of treatment.

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You can check the price of Rogaine at Amazon

Biotin Shampoo for Hair Growth

Another product that has shown good promise is biotin, it is supposed to slow hair shedding down and promote thickness. The formula states that it is a growth-promoting shampoo with 11 natural ingredients. Our research shows that 4.4 stars out of 5, and some people say that it took about 1-2 weeks to see positive results in their hair.

The box recommends that you leave the shampoo in your hair for 2-3 minutes, before rinsing out. You should see fewer hairs falling out over the next few weeks. I believe the product sells for less than $15.

You can check the price of Rogaine at Amazon
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New studies have shown that diabetes causing hair loss is indeed reversible - the most important step would be controlling your diabetes. Stress and some auto-immune conditions are strongly related to diabetes however these still need investigation. Once you gain control of your diabetes, your hair should grow back, more research needs to be done to find the links between diabetes and hair loss however good progress has been made in recent years.


Hair - a mirror of diabetes: Miranda, Ronda
Methods of hair loss evaluation in patients with endocrine disorders: Olszewska1
Recovery from alopecia areata in a patient with autoimmune polyglandular syndrome: Makino

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