Diabetes Mellitus – a dysfunction of the body’s sugar regulation system – is one of the fastest growing chronic disease in the United States. Although the disease is related to a number of serious health concerns, such as blindness, kidney disease, and coronary artery disease, researchers often question if it is associated with another issue: hair loss.
According to endocrinologists (diabetes and hormone specialists) and hair loss experts, diabetes may actually cause thinning hair. The mechanism behind diabetes-related hair loss may occur via several mechanisms:
First, because the disease causes damage to blood vessels, chronic diabetes can eventually reduce blood flow to the scalp. If hair follicles are deprived from the crucial oxygen and nutrients found in blood for a long period of time, they may miniaturize and eventually die.
Second, many experts believe chronic diabetes causes hormonal imbalances in the body. If these imbalances affect testosterone or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, it may cause baldness.
Third, many diabetes patients report new episodes of hair shedding after beginning their diabetic medications. While this connection has not be established scientifically, many patients believe balding is a side effect of a number of diabetes medications.
Fourth, chronic diabetes may place the body in a state of oxidative stress. This stress increases the number of tissue-damaging free radicals in the body, many of which could damage hair follicles.
What’s more, because diabetes causes slower and less complete healing, diabetic patients may have increased healing time after hair transplant surgery.