Does Taking Insulin Cause Hair Loss?

There are many causes for both male and female hair loss, including heredity, diet and illness. Could taking prescription insulin be one more cause?

How Hair Grows

Hair grows from roots, or follicles, located beneath the skin. Individual hairs can last for several years. During that time each hair passes through four phases: anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen.

Anagen is the phase during which growth of each hair takes place. It can last between two and seven years. Length of hair is determined by the amount of growth during this phase.

Catagen is a transitional phase. It lasts about ten days, during which time the hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the dermal papilla (cells that pass from the dermis into the epidermis layer of the skin, carrying nerve endings and blood flow.)

Telogen is the resting phase. It lasts about three months. During this time, new hair begins its anagen phase. At any given time 10 to 15 percent of hair is in the resting phase.

Exogen is the end of the resting phase, when as many as 50 to 150 old hairs are shed each day, making room for the new hair in the anagen phase.

Causes of Hair Loss

Heredity is perhaps the largest cause of hair loss. Hereditary-pattern baldness causes thinning hair in its early stages and loss of hair as the subject ages. The cause is a combination of genetics, hormonal changes, and aging.

Serious illness or trauma can also cause loss of hair. Physical stress is a factor in the loss of hair for many women, particularly loss after childbirth, surgery or trauma. This type of hair loss is usually self-limiting, with regrowth occurring after healing from the physical cause.

Diabetes can contribute to hair loss in a couple of ways. Uncontrolled diabetes stresses the body, impacting the immune system, disrupting hormonal levels. Diabetes also has an impact on circulation, potentially causing damage to the capillaries and veins that provide support to the layers of the skin. This impairment of circulation also causes less oxygen and nutrients to flow to the farthest reaches of the body, namely the soles of the feet and the scalp. Lack of nourishment of the skin cells can adversely affect the anagen phase of hair growth, leading to reduced production of hair.

Insulin and Hair Loss

There is little evidence that insulin use contributes to hair loss. Rather, it is insulin resistance that seems to be a greater risk of maintaining a full, thick head of hair.

Sources: Everyday Health, The Health Site, Belgravia Centre
Photo: Pexels

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