Information and Solutions for Men and Women

Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance May Cause Hair Loss

thinning_hair_diabetes_insulin

When the digestive system breaks down food into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to help our cells process this blood sugar efficiently. Insulin-resistance prevents the muscle, fat, and liver cells from interacting with this insulin properly, which then prevents the cells from using all the glucose. The pancreas keeps producing more insulin in response to the excess glucose that stays in the blood. This insulin resistance sets the stage for type 2 diabetes.112

The effect of this vicious cycle of excess insulin because of excess blood glucose forces that glucose to convert to stored fat. It can also cause hair loss, amongst other undesirable physical conditions.113 In fact, one of the symptoms doctors consider as a sign of diabetes is otherwise unexplained hair loss. Other symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:102

  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections or slow-healing wounds
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weight loss, despite increased hunger
  • Diabetes directly and indirectly causes the thinner hair shafts and diffuse hair loss common in those suffering from it in a number of ways:15, 76, 114

Table 16: Effects of Diabetes on Hair

EFFECTS OF DIABETES ON HAIR

BLOOD CIRCULATION IMPAIRMENT Inhibits the growth cycle of hair follicles.
DEHYDRATION When combined with stress, can cause hair loss.
HORMONES As a hormonal disease, diabetes affects other hormonal functions (e.g., increases serum insulin and androgen levels) which in turn can cause androgenetic hair loss.
INCREASED RISK OF INFECTION Diabetics have lowered immunity and are more susceptible to bacterial, yeast, and fungal infections, including those of the scalp that can cause hair loss.
STRESS Having and dealing with diabetes is stressful; stress and anxiety can cause or exacerbate hair loss.
TREATMENT DRUGS Medications used to treat diabetes can cause telogen effluvium.
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In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
A skin disorder in which dark patches of skin (sometimes with a ‘velvety’ thickness), especially in the neck, groin and under the arms; common in people with disorders such as obesity, PCOS, and diabetes.