We all know someone with diabetes, but what we perhaps don’t realise is that among the myriad complications that can come with the disease is hair loss.
A new study has revealed that what we almost certainly aren’t aware of just how prevalent diabetes actually is. Experts have recently revised their estimate as to how many people are affected by diabetes globally and now think it could be as high as just over half a billion. In other words, one in every 15 people may have diabetes.
The re-assessment of the global diabetes rate comes hot on the heels of a report last year in which a professor at the University of North Carolina said we were “sleepwalking into a high-sugar global diet” that would inevitably lead to more and more cases of diabetes.
Up to 520 million people affected
The new tally puts the number of people with diabetes at around 520 million – 100 million more than was previously thought. And as diabetes isn’t always easy to diagnose, it is entirely possible that people with hair loss could actually be diabetic.
Two explanations for diabetes-related hair loss are that the disease affects both hormone levels and the circulatory system, which can each wreak havoc with the hair growth cycle. In the latter case, a scalp deprived of blood and oxygen is likely to see a drop in the levels of nutrients it receives, thus leading to under-nourished hair follicles. In extreme circumstances, poor circulation to the scalp could even lead to hair follicles suffering irreparable damage.
Another potential problem for people with diabetes is that their immune system can become impaired; this in turn can make the body less well-equipped to deal with infections. In certain cases, this, too, could lead to hair loss.
Frequently, hair lost to diabetes will be diagnosed as condition named Telogen Effluvium, which is seen as a general, all-over thinning. In most cases this will lead to relatively short-term hair loss, with the body better able to cope once diabetic treatment begins.
Telogen Effluvium is also frequently to blame in cases of prescription medication-related hair loss. This happens when the new drugs cause a shock to the system, forcing a larger-than-normal volume of hairs into the telogen (resting) phase of the growth cycle, whilst the body gets used to the new treatment.
Hair loss can be more long-term
Sometimes, hair lost around the time of someone being diagnosed with diabetes is actually caused by (or coincides with the onset of) a long-term condition, such as Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss. Both these genetic hair loss conditions can also be exacerbated by or even, where there is a hereditary predisposition towards androgenetic alopecia but no sign of hairloss yet, triggered following a case of Telogen Effluvium. It is also possible for both conditions to present simultaneously.
In these cases, the hair thinning will be confined to areas around the top of the head, rather than all over the scalp. It also won’t right itself once diabetes treatment has begun as genetic hair loss conditions are ongoing. For that reason, it makes sense to visit a specialist clinic if excessive shedding coincides with a diabetes diagnosis – just as it does for any cases of hair loss, as it is seldom a good idea to wait and see if the problem will right itself without intervention.
In cases of Male Pattern Baldness, Female Pattern Hair Loss, Telogen Effluvium or Diffuse Thinning – the name given to Chronic Telogen Effluvium lasting more than six months – a clinically-proven hair loss treatment course can stop further shedding and encourage regrowth in a great many cases.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.