About 10 percent of the population suffers from diabetes, a common health condition in which a human body does not produce or use the hormone insulin effectively (or both). Insulin is responsible for moving the sugar you consume through your blood and into your cells for usage or storage — and when you don’t have the proper amount of insulin or it doesn’t work, sugar can build up in your blood and damage your organs and blood vessels. The body parts most commonly affected by diabetes include your kidneys, nerves and eyes.
Another part of your body that many people don’t realize can be affected by diabetes is your hair follicles. If you are experiencing hair loss, there is a chance that it is happening because of diabetes — even if you don’t realize that you have the condition or you have not been properly diagnosed. Recent studies show about 24 percent of diabetes cases go undiagnosed, and people do not realize that the hair loss they are suffering is a side effect of the condition. Here are several distinct ways that diabetes can cause hair loss in humans.
Diabetes and Slowed Hair Growth
Human hair grows in three phases: an active phase where hair grows 1 to 2 cm per month (which lasts two years), a resting phase (which lasts about 100 days) and a phase in which some hair falls out. Diabetes has been shown to interrupt this process, causing you to lose more hair than normal during the hair loss phase. This occurs for hair not only on the head, but also on the arms, legs and more.
Diabetes and Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is a condition in which a person’s immune system attacks the body’s hair follicles, resulting in patches of hair loss. People with diabetes are more likely to get alopecia areata, which means they are more likely to experience the patches of lost hair.
Diabetes and Stress
Diabetes is a chronic illness that takes work, time and money to manage. It often causes stress in sufferers, and stress is also a common cause of hair loss.
Diabetes and Medication
In order to ensure that the body is producing enough insulin and that the insulin is able to move sugar through the body effectively, diabetes sufferers may have to take regular medications. Many common diabetes medications have been shown to cause hair loss in people who take them.
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Sufferers of diabetes may also have thyroid disease, another common cause of hair loss in people.
Hair Loss Tips for Diabetes Sufferers
If you have diabetes and you are experiencing hair loss, there are some steps you can take to boost hair growth. Some of the most common include:
Regular doses of the vitamin biotin
Temporary coverage via wigs or hairpieces
If you are experiencing hair loss and are not sure what the cause is, there is a chance that you may be suffering from diabetes. Rather than allowing the condition to go undetected, visit your doctor, who can run tests to ensure that your body and hormones are functioning properly. If you are able to treat or get rid of your diabetes, you may also improve your hair loss, as well.
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