Does Diabetes Cause Hair Loss?


The body is an incredibly complex machine, and many systems are running simultaneously in order to make sure you can function properly everyday. Diabetes seeks to disrupt this balance by affecting the way the systems in your body acquire energy from food.1 Some of those systems include the production of new hair. So can diabetes cause hair loss? In short, yes. The destructive nature of diabetes limits the amount of nutrients and oxygen that gets dispersed into the body by damaging your blood vessels. Both Type 1 and 2 diabetes have the potential to cause hair loss. Let's learn how.

How Diabetes Impacts the Hair

Diabetes can impact the hair in several ways. As mentioned earlier, diabetes can restrict nutrients from reaching where they need to be in the body. However, there are some other ways that diabetes can cause your hair to thin.

Alopecia Areata

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks itself. In it's attacks, the body may target your hair follicles and cause alopecia areata. Although the likelihood of someone acquiring alopecia areata from type 1 diabetes is high, only 10-15% of people with diabetes suffer with type 1.2

Alopecia areata can appear as spots of your hair missing completely and show no signs of regrowth. Alopecia areata universalis is when there is a total loss of hair on your scalp and body caused by the immune system.3

High Blood Sugar Levels

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that describes the inability for your body to create more insulin and also how your body won't respond to new insulin. This causes your blood sugar levels to vary, as the insulin can't regulate it normally anymore. People who suffer with hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, caused or acquired by type 2 diabetes see damage to their hair follicles. This is due to the damage that is caused by having high blood sugar levels interfering with normal bodily functions that are needed for hair follicle health and new hair growth.4

Hormones and Stress

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, has links to the hair growth process. Cortisol can interfere with the production of hyaluronan5 (a natural lubricant in the skin6) and proteoglycans (a protein that is responsible for the structure of hair follicles7) - both are necessary for healthy hair growth. An increase of cortisol can cause degradation of these systems and cause hair loss.

Hormones also help drive the different cycles of hair growth. One hormone that we are going to highlight is dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the most potent of the hormones in the body when it comes to the hair growth cycle. When DHT increases, pressure builds up in the scalp which then speeds up the miniaturization process - which shrinks your hair follicles producing progressively thinner hair.8

Telogen Effluvium (Stress)

Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss that comes from hormonal changes, medications and metabolic stress. It's a reactive to variety of different stimuli, but for the sake of this blog, we'll be focusing on stress. An increase in stress can cause telogen effluvium, which responds with shedding of hair.

Telogen effluvium stems from when an increase of stress happens growing hair (anagen phase) gets moved right to the telogen phase prematurely. Then, when the hair cycle resets and the hair follicles produce more hair, the hair that skipped to the telogen phase detaches - causing noticeable shedding.9

Does Diabetes Medication Cause Hair Loss?

For people with type 2 diabetes, doctors would usually prescribe metformin. There are some concerns about whether or not this drug causes hair loss, however there is very little credible evidence that suggests this claim. There have been very little first-hand accounts of metformin being the reason behind hair loss, and some of those claims have the subject in question taking other medications to treat type 2 diabetes.10

How to Grow Your Hair Back

Here are some ways that you can grow your hair back naturally.

Massaging Your Scalp

Massaging your scalp and stretching that skin has actually shown proof of thicker hair being produced by the hair follicles. Massaging your scalp can also help increase blood flow so that nutrients in the blood streams can get to the hair follicles to help with new hair growth.

Essential Oils

In conjunction with massaging your scalp, essential oils have shown to work very well with promoting healthier and stronger hair. For example coconut oil is rich in fatty acids which can help with retaining protein in your hair and peppermint oil can help increase blood flow in the scalp.

Eating the Right Foods

Observing the right diets with foods that contain vitamins and minerals than can assist with the production of new hair and overall hair growth cycle. Foods that are high in protein (like eggs and fish), high in vitamin A-E and high in minerals like zinc and iron can help with hair growth.

Shampoos and Conditioners

Using shampoos and conditioners that contain some of the vitamins and minerals listed above can help with maintaining healthier hair. Shampoos and conditioners that also contain certain essential oils can help clean the scalp well so that no buildup blocks the hair follicles.

Observe Taking Less Stress

Although hard in practice, learning how to take on less stress can be helpful in reducing any further hair loss. Recommendations include doing activities that clear the mind and yoga to relieve any stress that you may have. Any other home remedy that you have works too!

Healthier Habits

Smoking and drinking are usually the root cause for a lot of health issues, and hair loss is included. The damage that both drinking and smoking cause physically can be detrimental to the production of new hair. Smoking cigarettes can cause oxidative stress which isn't good for creating new hair, and drinking can cause dehydration which can dry your current hair.

Green Tea

A classic remedy to many medical ailments, this herbal drink contains minerals that help with reducing DHT. As we explored above, an increase of DHT is not good for your hair, so drinking green tea can help with reducing how much DHT you have. Green tea can also help with the control of dandruff that may appear in your hair.

Grow Your Hair With Capillus

Along with the solutions we've mentioned above, we highly recommend Capillus. Our caps use medical-grade lasers to help regrow hair that is healthier and stronger. You can achieve the hair you want to have in just 6 minutes with Capillus.

[1,2]: “What Is Diabetes?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Dec. 2021, 
[3]: “Alopecia Universalis.” Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 
[4]: Miranda, J Jaime et al. “Hair follicle characteristics as early marker of Type 2 Diabetes.” Medical hypotheses vol. 95 (2016): 39-44. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2016.08.009
[5]: Thom, Erling. “Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption.” Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD vol. 15,8 (2016): 1001-4.
[6]: Cowman, Mary K., et al. “The Content and Size of Hyaluronan in Biological Fluids and Tissues.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 1 Jan. 1AD, 
[7]: Wadstein, Jan et al. “Integral Roles of Specific Proteoglycans in Hair Growth and Hair Loss: Mechanisms behind the Bioactivity of Proteoglycan Replacement Therapy with Nourkrin® with Marilex® in Pattern Hair Loss and Telogen Effluvium.” Dermatology research and practice vol. 2020 8125081. 5 May. 2020, doi:10.1155/2020/8125081
[8]: Ustuner, Emin Tuncay. “Cause of androgenic alopecia: crux of the matter.” Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open vol. 1,7 e64. 7 Nov. 2013, doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000000005
[9]: Hughes EC, Saleh D. Telogen Effluvium. [Updated 2021 Jun 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
[10]: Succurro, Elena et al. “Loss of Eyebrows and Eyelashes During Concomitant Treatment with Sitagliptin and Metformin.” Current drug safety vol. 12,1 (2017): 10-12. doi:10.2174/1574886311666161014125536
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