How to Prevent Hair Loss from T1D


How Diabetes Causes Hair Loss & Disrupts Hair Growth

High blood sugar is the reason diabetes causes hair loss. So really, diabetes doesn’t cause it, high blood sugars does. High blood sugar (anything above 140mg/dL or 7.8mmol/l) causes inflammation in the body which leads to a cascade of problems. Hair loss being one of them.

Specifically, here is how high blood sugar leads to hair loss.

  • Elevated BG Overtime: This reduces blood flow to both the hair follicles and scalp; interfering with the hairs normal growth cycle.
  • Spikes: Similar to above, spikes damage the blood vessels on the scalp, which leads to restricted blood flow and nutrients to the hair follicles.
  • Hormones: High blood sugar increases the body’s production of the stress hormone, cortisol. High cortisol levels sends a signal to the adrenal glands to produce fewer hormones that promote hair growth (1). This results in weaker hair that is prone to breakage, early shedding, and inhibited re-growth.
  • Too much Insulin: High insulin levels typically cause HIGH testosterone in women, and LOW testosterone in men (2). Because testosterone gets converted to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is primarily responsible for hair growth, having too much or too little of it can result in hair loss(3)(4). What do high levels of insulin look like in someone with type 1 diabetes?
    • Frequent lows
    • Not having to bolus for meals/snacks
    • Insulin resistance


How to Prevent Hair Loss from T1D

Simply said, but not easily done, keep sugars in range. Keeping your sugar in range is your golden ticket to long locks.

  • Keep sugar in range (70-140mg/dL). Once you get above 140mg/dL is when the damage begins to occur.
  • Encourage Hair Growth:
    • Healthy Non-Toxic Shampoo: This could be an entire post in itself, so to keep it short, make sure your shampoo is non-toxic. There is a lot of information online about what to look for in a shampoo. My favorite shampoo to use is Wellnesse. Not only is it non-toxic, but it’s actually BENEFICIAL for your hair. They have a really cool feature where you can see the EWG safety rating for each ingredient!
      wellness shampoo ingredients
    • Collagen & Bone Broth: Collagen and bone broth contain essential amino that are required for hair growth. My favorite source of collagen is from making bone broth, but I also like to supplement with collagen powder, and homemade gelatin gummies. I try to get one source of collagen in my diet everyday.
    • Optimal Proteins Levels: Hair is largely made up of protein. If you aren’t consuming enough protein in your diet then your body won’t have the building blocks it needs to create strong and healthy hair. There is a lot of controversy around how much protein is optimal, but I personally aim for around 100-120g daily.
    • Avoid Over Washing: Over washing your hair strips the hair of its natural oils and protectants. This can lead to dry & damaged hair that is prone to breakage. How many times a week you shampoo your hair will depend largely on your hair type and personal preference. I have thin blonde hair that gets flat and greasy very easily. I typically have to shampoo my hair twice a week and use dry shampoo (by Wellnesse) on the days in between.
    • Zinc, B12, and Biotin: Zinc & B12 play a big role in hair growth, hair structure, and scalp health. Biotin helps your body break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins so that your body can use those macronutrients to build strong & healthy hair.

In summary, the best way to prevent hair loss from T1D is to keep sugars in range (70mg/dL – 140mg/dL).


Have you noticed hair loss since having T1D?

Let me know in the comments if you’ve noticed hair loss since having T1D. Did you experience hair loss shortly after diagnosis?

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