Diabetes affects almost every biochemical process of the body including the hair growth process.Hence, excess hair fall or hair loss is a common complaint in people with diabetes. Hair loss in diabetics is not limited to the scalp.
People with diabetes experience significant loss of body hair, especially loss of hair on the legs. Severe hair loss is often a symptom of diabetes-induced complications that usually occur in people with poorly controlled diabetes.
Causes Hair Loss In Diabetes
Diabetes is associated with reduced blood circulation. Your hair follicles, just as any other living body cell, need nourishment to survive. Sluggish blood circulation in the scalp decreases supply of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, increasing hair fall.
Hair loss especially on the legs is usually a symptom of reduction in blood flow in the peripheral arteries. It is more common in diabetics with peripheral vascular disease. Accelerated production of free radicals triggered by diabetes is another common cause of hair loss.These highly reactive molecules destroy the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Production and activities of hormones associated with hair growth are also affected by diabetes.
Complications Of Hair Loss In Diabetes
The life cycle of a hair comprises of three stages, namely anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is characterized by active growth of the hair. Catagen is a transition stage that marks the end of the active growth process. During this stage the hair follicle shrinks. This is followed by the telogen or the resting phase.
At the end of the telogen phase the hair falls and is replaced by a new hair. In diabetics, hair loss is caused by early onset of the telogen phase, a disorder known as telogen effluvium.This causes significant thinning of the scalp hair and loss of body hair. People with type 1 diabetes are especially susceptible to alopecia areata that causes bald patches on the scalp and other areas of the body.
Treatment Of Diabetes And Hair Loss
Treating diabetes helps in improving hair growth. Appropriate diabetes treatment can reverse both alopecia areata and telogen effluvium.
Hair growth can be promoted by topical application of Minoxidil, a medication that is available over-the-counter. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that helps in reducing hair fall and stimulates hair growth. However, permanent hair loss will require surgical procedures such as hair transplants or scalp reduction.
Alternative Treatment For Diabetes And Hair Loss
Alternative treatments are also effective in treating hair loss in diabetics. Consuming dietary supplements containing nutrients essential for hair growth helps in arresting hair loss.
Eat healthy protein and foods rich in iron, zinc and biotin or vitamin B7. Hair loss can also be treated by taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements that help in arresting hair fall by inhibiting activities of pro-inflammatory substances.
Prevention For Diabetes And Hair Loss
Diabetes-induced hair loss can be prevented with healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet and regular exercises help in improving supply of nourishment to the skin and the hair follicles present in the skin.
To promote hair growth include five servings of healthy proteins such as lean meat, fish, dairy and legumes, seeds and nuts, variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grains in your daily diet. Practicing stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises and meditation also help in preventing hair loss by reducing elevated levels of stress hormones that worsen diabetes control and trigger hair fall.