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Diabetes And Hair Loss: An Unspoken Connection

UPGUYS > Blog > Hair > Diabetes and Hair Loss: An Unspoken Connection
The person who wrote this article

Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on June 25, 2023

When we think of diabetes, we often think of the classic symptoms like frequent thirst and urination, blurry vision, and tingling or numbness in the extremities. But there's another condition that's often associated with diabetes that's not as well-known: hair loss.

If you're struggling with hair thinning or hair shedding, it's important to understand the connection between diabetes and hair loss in order to take steps to manage or prevent it.

In this article, we're going to cover the following:

The Connection Between Diabetes and Hair Loss

The relationship between diabetes and hair loss is complex, and there are multiple factors at play. One of the main culprits is poor blood sugar control. When blood sugar levels are consistently high, it can damage blood vessels, including those that supply the hair follicles.

Over time, this can lead to hair miniaturization, where the hair shaft becomes smaller and thinner until it eventually falls out.

Read more: Thick vs thin hair

The Role of Blood Sugar Levels in Hair Growth

In order for hair to grow, it needs a steady supply of nutrients and oxygen. If blood sugar levels are high, it can affect the flow of blood and nutrients to the scalp, stunting hair growth and causing shedding. This is why maintaining good blood sugar control is critical for both diabetes management and hair health.

It's not just high blood sugar levels that can affect hair growth. Low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia, can also cause hair loss. When blood sugar levels drop too low, it can cause stress on the body, leading to hair loss. This is why it's important for people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels closely and avoid extreme highs and lows.

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Hormonal Imbalances and Hair Loss

Diabetes can also cause hormonal imbalances that contribute to hair loss. For example, when insulin levels are consistently high, it can increase the production of androgens, a type of hormone that can shrink hair follicles and cause baldness. Women with diabetes may also experience changes in estrogen levels, which can affect hair growth cycles and lead to shedding.

It's important to note that not all hormonal imbalances caused by diabetes will lead to hair loss. Some people may experience an increase in hair growth in certain areas, such as the face or arms, due to hormonal changes.

The Impact of Diabetes Medications on Hair Growth

Some medications used to manage diabetes can also have a negative impact on hair growth. For example, metformin, a common medication for type 2 diabetes, has been shown to deplete levels of vitamin B12, a crucial nutrient for healthy hair growth. Other medications like insulin and statins can also cause hair thinning or shedding as a side effect.

However, it's important to remember that the benefits of these medications often outweigh the potential side effects. People with diabetes should always talk to their healthcare provider if they notice any changes in their hair while taking medication.

In addition to medication, there are other lifestyle changes people with diabetes can make to promote healthy hair growth. This includes eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, staying hydrated, and managing stress levels.

Overall, while the relationship between diabetes and hair loss is complex, there are steps people with diabetes can take to promote healthy hair growth. By maintaining good blood sugar control, monitoring medication side effects, and making healthy lifestyle choices, people with diabetes can help minimize or prevent hair loss.

Types of Hair Loss Associated with Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels that can damage various organs and tissues in the body. One of the lesser-known complications of diabetes is hair loss. There are several types of hair loss that are commonly associated with diabetes. Understanding these types can help you identify which type you're experiencing and take steps to manage it.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that can occur in people with diabetes. It causes patchy hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body and can be triggered by stress, illness, or medications. This condition occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles, causing hair to fall out in small, round patches. While alopecia areata can affect anyone, it is more common in people with autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes.

Managing alopecia areata can be challenging, but there are treatments available that can help. Corticosteroids, for example, can be injected into the scalp to reduce inflammation and stimulate hair growth. Other treatments include topical immunotherapy, which involves applying a chemical to the scalp to trigger an allergic reaction, and hair transplant surgery.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium refers to excessive hair shedding that occurs due to a change in the hair growth cycle. It can be caused by hormonal changes, stress, or medications like those used to manage diabetes. This condition occurs when a large number of hair follicles enter the resting phase of the hair growth cycle at the same time, causing hair to fall out in clumps.

Fortunately, telogen effluvium is a temporary condition that usually resolves on its own within a few months. If you're experiencing telogen effluvium, it's important to manage your stress levels and maintain a healthy diet to support hair growth.

Read more: Diet and Hair Loss

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as female or male pattern baldness, is a genetic condition that can be exacerbated by diabetes. In this type of hair loss, hair follicles become miniaturized over time until they stop producing hair altogether. This condition is more common in men than women, but women can also experience androgenetic alopecia.

Managing androgenetic alopecia can be challenging, but there are treatments available that can help slow down or stop hair loss. Hair loss medications, such as Propecia or Minoxidil can be effective in promoting hair growth, while hair transplant surgery can be used to restore lost hair.

In conclusion, hair loss is a common complication of diabetes that can be caused by a variety of factors. If you're experiencing hair loss, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan that works for you.

Prevention and Management of Diabetes-Related Hair Loss

If you're experiencing hair loss due to diabetes, there are steps you can take to manage or prevent it from worsening.

Read more: Male hair loss and dandruff

Maintaining Optimal Blood Sugar Levels

The most important thing you can do is keep your blood sugar levels under control. This means following a diabetes-friendly diet, exercising regularly, and taking your medications as prescribed. By keeping your blood sugar levels in check, you'll be supporting healthy blood flow to the hair follicles and reducing the risk of hair loss.

Ensuring a Balanced Diet and Proper Nutrition

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to maintaining healthy hair. Make sure you're getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to support hair growth. Foods rich in iron, biotin, and vitamin D are particularly important for hair health.

Stress Management and Self-Care

Stress can have a major impact on hair health, so finding ways to manage stress is crucial. This might include practices like meditation, yoga, or talking to a mental health professional. Taking care of yourself in other ways, like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated, can also support healthy hair growth.

Treatment Options for Diabetes Hair Loss

If you're experiencing significant hair loss, there are treatment options available to help.

Over-the-Counter Solutions

There are a variety of over-the-counter products that claim to promote hair growth, such as shampoos, conditioners, and vitamins. While these products may not work for everyone, they're generally safe to try and can be a good first step if you're experiencing mild hair loss.

Read more: Can You Buy Minoxidil Over The Counter In Canada?

Prescription Medications

There are also prescription medications available that can help slow or even reverse hair loss. These medications work by blocking the production of androgens or promoting blood flow to the scalp. Discuss the risks and benefits of these medications with your doctor before starting them.

Hair Transplant Surgery

For more severe hair loss, hair transplant surgery may be an option. This involves transplanting healthy hair follicles from one part of the scalp to another and can result in a more permanent solution to hair loss. Keep in mind that this is an expensive and invasive procedure and may not be right for everyone.

Alternative Therapies and Natural Remedies

Finally, there are a variety of alternative therapies and natural remedies that some people find helpful for managing hair loss. These might include acupuncture, massage, or herbal supplements like saw palmetto or ginseng. While there's limited scientific evidence to support the efficacy of these treatments, they may be worth exploring if you're looking for a more holistic approach to managing your hair loss.


Dealing with hair loss can be a frustrating and emotional experience, especially when you're already dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes. By understanding the connection between diabetes and hair loss, taking steps to manage your blood sugar levels, and exploring treatment options that work for you, you can support healthy hair growth and feel confident in your appearance.


UPGUYS has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.