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Health

Metformin and Hair Loss

7 min read 2023 May 3
Written by Moerie Team
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If you’re taking metformin and experiencing hair loss, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that up to 10% of people who take metformin may experience hair loss as a side effect. While hair loss isn’t life-threatening, it can be a significant source of distress for those who experience it. Losing hair can affect self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being.

Metformin is a prescription drug that’s often prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It’s a type of drug called a biguanide that works by improving the body’s insulin sensitivity and reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver. While metformin therapy is primarily used to treat diabetes, it’s also been found to have other benefits, such as reducing the risk of certain cancers and improving heart health.

It’s important to manage diabetes effectively to reduce the risk of complications that can trigger hair loss, such as nerve damage and poor circulation. By taking steps to manage your diabetes and talking to your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have, you can help maintain good overall health and well-being.

We understand that hair loss can be a distressing experience, and it’s important not to get discouraged too quickly. That’s why, in this article, we’ll explore the underlying causes of hair loss, the impact of taking metformin, and, most importantly, effective strategies for managing hair loss. 

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss is a common concern for many people, and there are several reasons why it may occur. Some of the most common causes of hair loss include:

Genetics

In many cases, hair loss is hereditary. If your parents or grandparents experienced hair loss, you may be more likely to experience it as well.

Hair growth cycle

Hair goes through 3 stages of growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. During the anagen phase, hair grows actively. During the catagen phase, the growth slows down, and the follicle begins to shrink. Finally, during the telogen phase, the hair falls out, and new hair begins to grow in its place. 

When the hair growth cycle is disrupted, such as due to certain medical conditions or medications, it can lead to hair loss.

Hormonal changes

Changes in hormones (or hormonal imbalance) can also contribute to hair loss. For example, women may experience hair thinning after giving birth, during menopause, or due to conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Stress

High levels of stress can cause hair to enter a resting phase, leading to increased shedding.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a relatively common cause of hair loss, particularly in people who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets or those who have conditions that prevent the body from absorbing vitamin B-12 properly. 

This essential nutrient plays a critical role in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body, including hair follicles. Without enough vitamin B-12, hair follicles may not receive the necessary oxygen and nutrients to function properly, leading to hair thinning and loss.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or autoimmune diseases, can also contribute to temporary or permanent hair loss.

In addition to these common causes, research suggests that there may be a link between diabetes and hair loss. Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, including those that supply hair follicles. As a result, people with diabetes may be more likely to experience hair thinning or loss.

Understanding the Side Effects of Metformin

Metformin is a medication that is commonly prescribed to manage type 2 diabetes. While it is generally well-tolerated, like all medications, it can have side effects

One potential adverse effect that has gained attention in recent years is its impact on hair health. Research suggests that taking metformin may contribute to hair loss in some people. However, the exact mechanism of metformin affecting hair has yet to be fully understood.

In addition to hair loss, metformin can cause a range of other side effects:

Common side effects: Metformin can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. It can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth, headaches, and dizziness. 

Rare side effects: In rare cases, taking metformin can lead to a serious condition called lactic acidosis, which is characterized by high levels of lactic acid in the blood.

The severity of metformin side effects can vary from person to person. Factors that can affect the severity of side effects include the dosage of metformin, how long a person has been taking diabetes medications and individual differences in metabolism. For example, some people may be more sensitive to metformin’s effects than others and may experience more severe side effects as a result.

It’s important to note that while metformin can have side effects, it is generally considered safe and effective for managing type 2 diabetes. If you’re experiencing side effects from taking metformin, talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. They may recommend adjusting your dosage or switching to a different medication. 

It’s also important to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the use of metformin and to attend regular check-ups to monitor your blood sugar levels and overall health.

Strategies for Managing Hair Loss

Managing hair loss can be a challenging task, but there are several strategies that can help. Consider the following tips:

Promote healthy hair growth

  • Get regular exercise: Exercise improves blood flow and circulation, which can help promote healthy hair growth.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: A diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help keep hair healthy and strong.
  • Take supplements: Biotin and vitamins D and B12 are known to promote healthy hair growth. You can also try looking for hair care products containing biotin, such as Moerié’s Ultimate Growth Set products
  • Reduce stress: Stress can lead to hair fall, so managing stress levels is important for maintaining healthy hair.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for overall health, including hair health.

Adopt good hair care practices

  • Avoid harsh chemicals and heat styling tools: Chemical treatments and heat styling can damage hair, leading to breakage and hair loss.
  • Wash your hair regularly: Regular washing helps keep hair and scalp clean and healthy.
  • Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner: Harsh shampoos and conditioners can strip hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and breakage. Use gentle hair care products to infuse your hair follicles with essential oils and amino acids. 

Explore medical hair loss treatments

  • Topical solutions: Minoxidil is a medication applied directly to the scalp to promote hair regrowth.
  • Prescription medications: Finasteride is a prescription medication that can help prevent further hair loss.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: PRP therapy involves injecting a patient’s own plasma into their scalp to promote hair growth.
  • Hair transplants: Hair transplants involve taking hair from one area of the scalp and transplanting it to another area experiencing hair loss.

It’s important to note that not all hair loss can be prevented or treated. Some types of hair loss, such as those caused by genetic factors, may be more challenging to manage. In these cases, wearing a wig or hairpiece may be an option to help improve the appearance of thinning hair.

If you’re experiencing hair loss, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause and explore potential treatment options. They may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, hair care practices, and medical treatments to help manage your hair loss. 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, hair loss can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Just know that you’re not alone! There are many people who have experienced hair loss due to a variety of factors, including taking metformin. It’s essential to take care of your overall health and to seek help if you’re experiencing hair loss.

Remember, the strategies we’ve discussed here today are just a starting point. Many options are available to help manage hair fall, and it may take some time and experimentation to find what works best for you. 

With patience, persistence, and the proper support, it’s possible to maintain healthy hair and feel confident in your appearance. So, take the time to explore your options, talk to your doctor, and be gentle with yourself!

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/does-metformin-cause-hair-loss

https://www.healthline.com/health/does-metformin-cause-hair-loss#causes

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323410#metformin-vitamin-b-12-and-hair-loss

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress-and-hair-loss/faq-20057820

https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/metformin/side-effects-of-metformin/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/hair-loss-a-to-z#:~:text=Symptom%20of%20a%20medical%20illness,of%20protein%2C%20iron%2C%20zinc%20or

https://www.healthline.com/health/baldness-gene

https://www.health.com/condition/pcos/pcos-hair-loss#:~:text=%22PCOS%20can%20contribute%20to%20hair,frontal%20regions%20of%20their%20scalp.%22

https://www.health.com/condition/pcos/pcos-hair-loss#:~:text=%22PCOS%20can%20contribute%20to%20hair,frontal%20regions%20of%20their%20scalp.%22

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hair-loss/#:~:text=Finasteride%20and%20minoxidil%20are%20the,Women%20should%20not%20use%20finasteride.

https://www.healthline.com/health/prp-for-hair-loss

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