What You Need To Know About Leg Hair Loss and Diabetes

Jul 02, 2023
What You Need To Know About Leg Hair Loss and Diabetes
People often associate hair loss with heads, but did you know it can happen on legs as well? This problem can occur for several reasons, including diabetes. Have you noticed bare patches on your legs? Here’s how diabetes could be to blame.

 Losing leg hair may not seem like a big deal, but it can be a sign of a serious health problem — including diabetes.

This issue often surprises people, since diabetes is about blood sugar, not body hair. However, having too much sugar in your system can put your entire body at risk, from your eyes and organs to your nerves and blood vessels. When this occurs, it can cause surprising changes, including hair loss.

As an experienced podiatrist, Hai-En Peng, DPM, FACFAS, understands the risks high blood sugar can place on your lower legs and feet. That’s why he offers diabetic foot care services at his Align Foot & Ankle Center locations in Camarillo and Santa Barbara, California.

If you have high blood sugar, here’s how it can impact hair growth on your legs.

How hair follicles work

Hair loss may seem like an embarrassing inconvenience or something caused by aging, but this issue can also be a warning sign of a health problem, such as diabetes.

Each hair on your body comes from its own follicle. These tiny openings in your skin surround a strand of hair and its root. They sit in the first two layers of your skin, and you have more than five million of them all over your body.

As you might expect, your hair follicles help promote hair growth, but their work doesn’t stop there. They also form new blood vessels and nervous system neuron cells. And, if you sustain an injury or develop a wound, they help repair skin damage.

People lose hair on a daily basis. This stage is a natural stage in the growth cycle of a hair. In most cases, a hair actively grows for at least two years before transitioning into a resting phase for up to four months. While at rest, you can shed a hair, which then gets replaced in the next growing phase.

However, if hair fails to grow back, this can indicate an underlying condition, such as diabetes, especially if it occurs in areas like the legs.

Diabetes and hair loss

Living with blood sugar disorders like diabetes can interfere with the growing cycle of your hair. 

If blood sugar remains too high, your vessels can become damaged, and fatty deposits of plaque can build up, especially in the legs. This condition, known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), significantly interferes with blood flow to the extremities. 

Hair can’t grow properly without a healthy supply of fresh blood and oxygen to the follicles. If this occurs, you can lose more hair than usual all over your body, including your legs and arms.

Other signs of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Wounds that heal slowly
  • Chronic skin infections
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the feet
  • Extreme fatigue

Whether you have a diabetes diagnosis or not, it’s crucial to determine what’s behind the hair loss, as not doing so could lead to dangerous and even life-threatening problems.

The dangers of diabetes

Losing hair on your legs may not seem like a big deal, but if it’s due to poor blood flow from uncontrolled blood sugar, your health and wellness could be at risk.

Diabetes can cause numerous complications, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Poor oral health
  • Mental health disorders

It can also be a serious risk to your feet. In fact, people with diabetes have a much higher risk for foot or leg amputation. Furthermore, normally minor problems — such as ingrown toenails — can develop into major issues that require amputation. 

So, if you notice hair loss on your legs, make sure to talk with your doctor. And, if you have diabetes, take steps to practice good foot care. Dr. Peng can guide you through the process of keeping your feet and toes healthy through routine checks at home and in his office.

Do you have hair loss on your legs? Don’t put your feet and legs at risk. Book an appointment online or over the phone with Align Foot & Ankle Center today.