I’m a male who has struggled with hair loss for a number of years. Recently, I was diagnosed with type I diabetes, and I’m wondering if this could be related to my hair loss? Is there a connection between diabetes and hair loss? Can the diabetes medications (insulin) make the hair loss worse?
Until recently, the link between diabetes and hair loss was not overly clear. Many physicians noted an increase in the number of patients suffering from alopecia and diabetes, and inferred a connection between the two conditions. Because uncontrolled diabetes leads to severe disease in small blood vessels, doctors assumed diabetes caused hair loss by significantly decreasing blood supply to the scalp. However, endocrinologists (hormone and diabetes specialists) started to look at this issue a bit more closely and noticed something interesting: men with diabetes (both type I and II) and alopecia exhibited hair loss patterns that resembled the diffuse thinning seen in women (classified by the Ludwig hair loss scale); not the “patterns” seen in men (classified by the Hamilton-Norwood scale).
While the link isn’t still overly clear, endocrinologists know a few things: first, that the diabetes associated alopecia is very likely caused by the disease itself, not the medications (such as the insulin mentioned earlier); second, that females with “patterned” hair loss (which is more diffuse thinning and described by the Ludwig scale) have unique hormone derangements that are different than men with androgenic alopecia (“male pattern baldness”); third, that men with diabetes and alopecia likely have hormone dysfunction similar to women suffering from hair loss, which is why they exhibit these feminine patterns.
Based upon the new information we now have available, it does seem like there is a connection between diabetes (both type I and type II) and hair loss. Thus, it would likely be helpful to see an endocrinologist (with knowledge in both alopecia and diabetes) to discuss diabetes related hair loss and what can be done to control the disease most importantly, for your own health. Keeping diabetes under control should help correct some of the hormone abnormalities, and may partially reverse any hair loss associated with it. For those experiencing genetic based hair loss, you may want to ask your doctor about proven hair loss treatments like minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia)
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”