Does Insulin cause hair loss? This is a question Diabetics are asking quite often. Diabetics often complain about hair loss. The causes of this are worsened blood circulation, hormonal imbalance and a weakening of the immune system. Hair loss due to insulin, used to treat diabetes mellitus, is rare. If there is hair loss from insulin, it can be caused by stress.

Insulin hair loss – stress for the body

Hair loss is rarely caused directly by insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels and is primarily used to regulate blood sugar levels in type 1 diabetes mellitus. With high-grade type 2 diabetes, insulin can also be used.

Type 1 diabetics often use an insulin pump that is worn on the abdomen and delivers the insulin to the body through a tube and a fine needle under the abdominal wall. The insulin pump mimics the function of a healthy pancreas and releases the insulin when it is needed by the body.

Type 2 diabetics, but also some type 1 diabetics use an insulin syringe or insulin pen. The disadvantage is the constant control of blood sugar levels.

After meals, the blood sugar level must be checked by taking a tiny amount of blood from the fingertip. The insulin must be dosed accordingly, which means stress, especially in the initial phase. This stress can cause hair loss from insulin.

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What hair loss caused by insulin feels like

The insulin used today is well tolerated. In the past, insulin for diabetics was obtained from the pancreas of pigs or cattle. If you are now diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and you are dependent on the additional administration of insulin, since your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, treatment is carried out with human insulin or insulin analogues.

Human insulin is produced using genetic engineering and is chemically identical to human insulin. Insulin analogues are also produced by genetic engineering, but they differ in the arrangement of the amino acids from human insulin.

The advantage is better controllability of insulin treatment, since insulins with a short and long duration of action are available.

Various side effects can occur at the start of insulin treatment:

  • Visual disturbances, which, however, vanish after the improvement in blood sugar levels
  • Water retention and edema that subside after changes in blood sugar levels
  • Weight gain
  • Skin reactions and inflammation at the injection site
  • Allergies with rashes and wheals.

Insulin hair loss usually occurs at the beginning of treatment, as injecting insulin is stressful for many diabetics. Stress can also result from weight gain, which is a psychological burden for some sufferers.

With modern insulin analogs, however, weight gain is not as noticeable. Allergic reactions to insulin are extremely rare. If there is an allergy with skin reactions, this can be associated with hair loss. An allergy can also be associated with a drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing and edema.

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The insulin preparation is then changed. You will receive an insulin preparation with other concomitant substances.

Diffuse hair loss

If there is a hair loss caused by insulin, it is a stress-related or less often an allergy-related hair loss. This hair loss occurs evenly on the entire head. It is also called diffuse hair loss.

The hair is getting thinner and thinner. If this hair loss progresses, the scalp can become visible through the hair. However, this is extremely rare in the event of hair loss due to insulin. Hair loss from insulin is only temporary.

In the case of diffuse hair loss, the hair grows back after the cause has been eliminated. The positive news: hair loss from insulin is not a permanent condition. If you get used to using an insulin syringe or insulin pen, the stress subsides. The hair grows back. If you receive another insulin preparation after an allergy, allergies will no longer occur. The hair can grow back.

Since the hair goes into the resting phase prematurely, which takes about three months in the event of stress-related or allergic hair loss, you have to wait about three to four months until the hair regrows again.

Another possibility for insulin hair loss

In type 1 diabetes mellitus, the body’s own antibodies destroy the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The result is an absolute insulin deficiency, which must be compensated with an insulin supply.

In type 2 diabetes mellitus, the pancreatic beta cells initially still produce enough insulin. Since the body’s cells are resistant to insulin, there is a relative lack of insulin. Pancreatic beta cells need to produce more insulin, which in some cases can cause hair loss from insulin.

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Since at some point the beta cells can no longer sustain the increased insulin production, they become exhausted, which leads to an absolute insulin deficiency.

What you can do against hair loss caused by Insulin

Hair loss in diabetics is usually not caused by insulin, but by the actual problems with diabetes such as

  • Worsening of blood circulation
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Hormone change
  • Stress due to the disease and possible late effects
  • increased sensitivity of the scalp to fungal infections and bacteria

If you need insulin, you can limit your insulin needs with a healthy lifestyle. You can do this with a healthy, balanced diet and lots of exercise.

Conclusion

Hair loss through insulin is rare.

If you are diabetic and need insulin, you may experience hair loss due to insulin, especially at the start of therapy. This is mostly due to the stress when handling insulin pens or insulin syringes. Get used to it, the stress subsides, the hair grows back.

In rare cases, allergies to insulin can occur, which can lead to rashes and hair loss. If you have an allergy, you will be given another insulin preparation.

The hair loss due to insulin is mostly not due to the insulin, but to diabetes. With a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your insulin intake and prevent hair fall.

Brian Johnson MD

Brian Johnson MD

Dr. Brian Johnson is a professor of dermatology. He has conducted numerous research studies about hair loss and it's effects on the human psyche. Dr. Johnson has written for Maclean's, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post.

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