The most common form of diabetes is type 2; it's also one of the most common under-diagnosed conditions with millions of Americans unaware they have it. It occurs when the body can't use glucose properly, either owing to a lack of the hormone insulin or because the insulin available doesn't work properly. With diabetes, blood circulation and blood sugar levels become impaired bruises and wounds take longer to heal and the individual's recovery rate is comparatively slower.
Hair loss is considered to be one of the first symptoms of diabetes, and can become worse as the condition takes control of the body. Because the body's recovery rate is slower than normal, the re-growth of hair is impaired, and as a result, the diabetes-sufferer is left with hair loss, or thinning hair.
Stress caused by chronic diabetes can also cause a reduction in the growth of hair, as can medications prescribed to help control the condition, although complete baldness is usually rare. Men and women are equally affected by thinning hair as a result of taking prescription medications to treat diabetes. Sometimes, a change in the dosage or ceasing medication altogether can be all it takes for the hair to start re-growing.
Normal hair has a growth cycle which lasts for two to six years. Each hair on the head of a healthy individual grows at the rate of half an inch each month. Ninety percent of hair is in the growth stage at one time, with the other 10 percent being in the "resting" or telogen phase. The resting hair lasts for two to three months and is then shed, with new hair growing from the same hair follicles to replace it. And so this re-growth cycle continues, year after year.
The diabetes-suffer can prevent remedy hair loss by getting his or her condition under control. Once the sufferer's blood sugar is under control, then there's every chance that he or she will stop losing hair, although some hair loss may require medical treatment. For example, if an individual's hair loss is caused by a diabetes-related fungal infection, then treating the fungal infection should in turn stop the hair loss.
If hair loss is more permanent, then there are several options available. A hair transplant, where hair is taken from the back of the head and transplanted to the bald areas, is one option, although this procedure would only be viable for those sufferers who have hair at the front or sides of their head which can be used. Another option is a hair piece or wig. Or if there's sufficient hair left, then a change of style could help cover up bald or thinning patches.
As always, good nutrition and exercise are important. A diabetic diet, with the appropriate combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will provide both essential nutrients and create a balanced release of glucose into the blood. Devising such a diet with a physician or dietician, and sticking to it, can help in controlling blood sugar levels, and give the diabetes-sufferer the best possible chance to remedy hair loss.