Whether we or someone we know has it, diabetes has become one of the most common health disorders that we see today in modern medicine, with as many as 9.3% of the entire American population having a form of it. With a strong presence in individuals older in age, and even in children as young as in preschool, it’s a difficult task to find a population that does not have any present signs of diabetes.
Despite the fact that it is so rampantly prevalent in today’s society, diabetes and its possible effects are still widely misunderstood, or just left unshared. One of the lesser understood aspects of diabetes is the thinning and falling out of one’s hair. Below is a breakdown of what you need to know about diabetes and hair loss, and why exactly the body responds to diabetes in this way.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder that effects the body’s ability to circulate efficiently. What the body needs to do to run properly is that it needs to be able to send nutrients whenever and wherever it needs to send it, and diabetes is a disorder that stands in the way of that.
A word almost as popular as diabetes itself is “insulin”. What insulin does is act as a locator and transporter for the body as it reacts to sugars that are introduced from foods that are consumed. When the body eats and has sugars available, the insulin steps up and has the responsibility of taking the sugars from the now available stock pile in the blood and sending it wherever it needs to go.
The sugars act as fuel and energy to keep the body and its many highways running smoothly. Organs, tissues, blood vessels and capillaries (or mini blood highways inside the body) are all needing of these sugars to keep things going, and if for any reason insulin is unavailable to deliver those much needed sugars, that’s when things start going wrong.
When the sugar is unable to be delivered, the parts of the body that are unattended to begin to shut down. The parts of the body that are affected the most are the extremities, such as toes, your fingers, and your scalp.
Hair loss is a result of diabetes.
When the scalp is not receiving what it needs to, it is unable to maintain or grow any life, which is your hair. It needs the nutrients usually otherwise available in sugars delivered by the insulin to produce and keep the production of hair going. As a direct result of the insulin not making its deliveries, the scalp has no choice but to stop maintaining the hair follicles, and so they stop growing, die off and fall out.
Until the insulin is able to start delivering sugars again, the scalp will remain unable to produce new hair.
Hair loss from stress.
Hair loss can be a result of several factors that expand from more than just diabetes alone. Stress, when encountered and overcome by enough of it, can cause hair to lose its ability to grow and be nourished. Living with diabetes, even if the diabetes itself isn’t causing hair to fall out, can be enough to make hair begin to thin out as well. Along with that, the stress from living with, having, and coping with diabetes can cause significant emotional distress on its own, which can also lead to hair loss.
Also, there are several different medications and treatments that can cause hair loss that are administered to combat diabetes and other diseases and disorders, so be sure to discuss with your doctor if there is a possibility of follicle and scalp damage when you begin new and certain medications.
Diabetes as an autoimmune disorder.
Diabetes is classified as an autoimmune disease. The reason as to why is because the body has turned on itself and is no longer accepting and utilizing its natural helper: insulin. This lack of involvement can warp from partially ignoring and just not fully using insulin, to full on attacking and removing the hormone all together, and the same can go for the hair follicles on your body.
“Alopecia Areata” is another kind of autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body turns on and no longer recognizes the hair follicles as natural and familiar organic matter, and begins to work to remove it. Like a soldier who was given the wrong orders, your immune system that normally looks for and expels any and all unwelcomed guests in the body is now guilty of friendly fire.
Contracting this particular hair-targeting autoimmune disorder comes from numerous variables, one of which is the frailty that can possibly come from having diabetes. When your body is already starting to turn on itself, it’s important to try to get ahead of it before it starts to target more otherwise friendly tissues within the body.
The result of Alopecia Areata is the expelling of hair follicles from the body from your head, your arms, your legs, and everywhere else you have hair. It will become noticeable in small patches all over, so if you are starting to notice hairless spots on your person, be sure to notify your doctor.
How to combat hair loss from diabetes.
Having your hair begin to fall out is not characteristic of certain and permanent baldness. Your hair follicles are just not receiving the nourishment they need that they otherwise get from having the insulin do its job. Once you have the insulin back up and running and delivering sugars just like in the old days, your scalp should start growing new hair in no time.
Once you start treatment for your diabetes is when you should begin to notice a difference in the health of your hair. Even if you lost your hair, you more than likely should begin to regrow it back to its healthy and natural state pretty shortly after starting the proper treatment. Remember however that everyone’s situation varies, so if you want answers that are more specific to your individual situation, contact your primary care physician today.