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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Diabetic Hair Loss

Diabetic Hair Loss
By Dr. Kari Williams, Ph.D Hair and Scalp Expert
Healthier You Magazine
“Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there's your diamond in the rough.”  
~ Larry David, executive producer of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
It’s been said that beauty is only skin deep, but your hairstyle is a cut above. All humor aside, hair has always been one of the richest symbols of beauty in our society. But hair is also a barometer of health. It can expose slight changes in our body, including nutritional deficiencies. It is difficult for most people to believe how significant the impact of our systemic health has on the growth of our hair. Often time, patients suffering from hair loss desire quick topical treatments to reverse the hair loss or they will search for issues in their external environment to determine the cause of their hair loss.
Unfortunately, often time hair loss is not caused by an environmental problem. There are a number of diseases and disorders that will affect our health, and in turn, impact the hair cycle. Nutritional deficiencies, in particular, affect the strength of the hair strand. Ultimately, the health of our hair is a reflection of our overall health.
Hair loss is the first sign of disease; therefore, it is important to check with your doctor to determine if your hair loss is health related.  An early symptom of Diabetes is hair loss. When glucose levels become high in the blood and are not properly regulated, it interferes with blood circulation.  When the circulation of your blood begins to decrease, this affects the ability of nutrients and oxygen to reach the follicles. As a result, a follicle not receiving enough nutritional support leads to brittle strands that break and snap.  
Poor blood circulation also makes it difficult for the body to heal from infections making those who suffer from diabetes more susceptible to fungal infections in the scalp.  This can also lead to hair loss if left untreated. It is important to mention the loss of bodily fluids
Diabetic patients are prone to dry skin and eczema because the body looses fluid. Dry skin on the scalp causes discomfort and itching. Hair breakage can occur with excessive scratching of the scalp.
Hair follicles are sensitive to changes in our hormonal levels and Diabetes is a hormonal disease. When androgen and estrogen are not balanced there is an onset of hair loss, especially in people who are genetically predisposed to hair loss. Stress exacerbates this form of hair loss. Individuals with Diabetes take on added stress due to insulin injections, monitoring blood sugar levels, watching diet, exercising etc. Therefore, Diabetic patients are at an even higher risk of hair loss and should take extra steps to monitor and remove stress.  
It’s important that you monitor your blood sugar levels.  If you do have elevated blood sugar levels, take steps in the beginning towards regulation to not only prevent hair loss but to prevent other symptoms of Diabetes, some of which can be life threatening. Doctors tend to aggressively treat Diabetes because it severely impacts other parts of the body. Managing a disease like Diabetes includes choosing nutrient rich foods and exercising which are excellent steps to not only overcoming the disease but also overcoming hair loss.