New figures have found that the number of people in Britain who have Type 2 diabetes has increased by a factor of three in 20 years – meaning that diabetes-related hair loss will likely have seen a similar spike in numbers.
People don’t always lose hair when they get Type 2 diabetes, but it is far from uncommon when they do. The reasons why thinning can happen are numerous, although it’s worth knowing before delving into these that diabetes-related hair loss issues can often be aided with a tailored treatment course.
Strain on the body
Diabetes puts an enormous amount of strain on the body as it struggles to cope with biological changes, and the hair growth cycle can be affected. Two conditions that are quite often seen when someone is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are Telogen Effluvium – an all-over thinning – and Diffuse Hair Loss, which describes Telogen Effluvium that is ongoing (because the condition normally clears up of its own accord within around six months).
Diabetes medication typically restores the hormonal imbalance that can lead to the hair thinning seen in Telogen Effluvium – but not always. Additionally, first starting treatment can also cause temporary hair loss whilst the body adjusts and tries to balance its insulin levels. Similarly, because diabetes can affect the circulation of the blood in the body, the scalp can find itself undernourished, leading to further hair fall. Telogen effluvium treatment can help to stabilise this shedding and promote hair growth, though often the condition will right itself within a few months once the diabetes is being properly managed.
The latest figures show that 2.8 million people had Type 2 diabetes in 2014 – compared to 700,000 in 1991. Better detection rates are partly behind the surge in diagnoses, but sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles certainly play a part and obesity rates have doubled over the same period.
Being overweight can affect hair health. This is something which people often find hard to believe, although it is perhaps a little easier to understand when the body is viewed as a whole. If the scalp – like the rest of the body – is not being well looked after, problems can arise.
Inflammation to blame?
Coinciding with the release of the new Type 2 diabetes figures, scientists in Australia have issued a warning which states that people with the condition have an altered blood profile that can lead to inflammation. This, too, could be significant in the overall conversation about diabetes-related hair loss because it has been noted by health professionals all over the world that inflammation – defined as the body’s attempt to protect itself – can wreak havoc with hair follicles.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract; Coeliac disease causes inflammation of the lining of the gut; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus results in inflammation in various parts of the body. All three are classed as autoimmune disorders and all three can cause hair loss, as can Alopecia Areata – the second most common cause of hair loss in the world. However, this displays as sudden bald spots anywhere on the head (or body in more extreme cases), whereas the others mostly present as thinning hair from all over the scalp.
Diagnosing a hair loss condition isn’t always something that can be done at home, and things become especially complex when there may be an underlying cause behind hair falling out. There are treatments available for these temporary hair loss conditions, as well as bespoke Alopecia Areata treatment courses available. So, if you are losing hair following a diabetes diagnosis, it is always worth getting expert advice.
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.