Setting the record straight on diabetes, leg hair loss
Dear Dr. Roach: In regard to a recent column on a 65-year-old losing hair on his legs, your answer hit on everything — except his DIABETES! When I developed Type 2 diabetes and started to see a podiatrist, he commented during the foot exam that the loss of hairs on one’s feet and lower part of the legs is very typical of someone with diabetes, because of nerve damage. You did not mention Type 2 diabetes at all! Was my podiatrist right? — Anon.
Answer: Diabetes can indeed cause nerve damage, and the most common places the symptoms begin are the bottom of the feet and ankles.
However, hair loss is not part of the nerve problem from diabetes.
People with longstanding diabetes, especially if not well-controlled, are at higher risk of developing blockages in the small and large blood vessels of the feet. Since this can start about the same time as diabetic neuropathy, the message from the podiatrist may have been confusing.
Yes, it could be the diabetes, but it’s the blood vessel damage, not the nerve damage, that seems to be most associated with hair loss.
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