Getting a diagnosis for a medical condition and starting on a new medication to help treat it can be stressful enough. But, also noticing hair loss at the same time can make the situation even worse.
There are some anecdotal reports of hair loss after starting on Metformin for treating type 2 diabetes. But, are these reports signifying that the medication itself may lead to hair loss, or are there other factors to consider here?
It is important to never stop any of your prescribed medications on a hunch or a whim, and you need to always talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have before taking matters into your own hands.
Below, we will review what we know so far about metformin and hair loss, including reports of hair loss while taking this medication, any studies that show a correlation, the potential for the underlying conditions causing hair loss, and just how diabetes itself can affect your hair.
After a review of the literature, there is one case report of one 69-year-old man with type 2 diabetes who developed the loss of his eyebrows and eyelashes while being on Metformin as well as another diabetes medication, Sitagliptin, for 4 months. While the report is startling, it is important to consider that this is just 1 case, and that the man was on multiple medications at the time. Ultimately, this is not a clear-cut case of hair loss being tied to Metformin.
There are also occasional anecdotal reports of people experiencing hair loss while using Metformin that can be found in various online forums. But, with how common hair loss can be for a number of reasons, as well as the potential for hair loss due to the condition itself, it is important to take anecdotal reports with a grain of salt.
When reviewing the detailed prescribing information for Metformin medications, there is no mention of hair loss under the potential adverse effects, clinical trial reports, or postmarketing reports sections.
Currently, there are no high-powered, controlled studies showing a correlation between the use of the medication Metformin and hair loss due to this active ingredient.
However, there is some evidence that Metformin use can lead to lowered vitamin B12 levels. In this study, participants using 850mg Metformin twice daily had low B12 levels more often than participants taking a placebo medication after 5 years of usage.
Since there may be a connection between a Vitamin B12 deficiency and hair loss, it is worth making sure that your levels are kept within normal ranges with your diet or supplementation if you are concerned about your hair. Luckily, vitamin B12 deficiencies can normally be readily corrected through diet, supplementation, or shots, and this alone should not be a reason to stop using or avoiding Metformin treatment.
If you are using Metformin to help treat your Diabetes or PCOS (the two most common uses for this medication), it is important to realize that these conditions themselves are well known for potentially causing hair loss.
Metformin is a common first-line treatment for both type 2 diabetes and PCOS, and may be started right around the same time that you are first diagnosed. For this reason, it is possible to see how hair loss occurring around this time as well could be erroneously tied to the new medication, while in reality, it may be due to the underlying disease state.
Another thing to consider is the large amount of stress that can come along with a new diagnosis of diabetes or PCOS, which could be contributing to negative hair effects.
Some people may not realize the connection between a disease that has to do with blood sugar levels and your hair. But, there could be a few different connections here.
High blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels over time, making them less effective at carrying oxygen and nutrients to tissues. Commonly, it can be the smaller vessels that are negatively affected first, including the vessels in your scalp which feed your hair follicles. Eventually, this may lead to increased hair shedding, an acceleration of hereditary hair loss patterns, or slowed growth.
In addition, poorly controlled diabetes can be stressful on your body, leading to increased cortisol levels or worsening of related conditions. Together, this could play a role in increased shedding or accelerated hair loss.
If you are taking Metformin for diabetes or PCOS and you are experiencing hair loss, it is more likely that the hair loss is stemming from these conditions over the Metformin treatment.
By helping to improve the underlying condition by following lifestyle recommendations and taking your medications as prescribed, you may be able to see hair improvements.
There is some evidence that Metformin may lead to lowered vitamin B12 levels over time, which could lead to increased hair loss in the case of a deficiency. However, this can be closely monitored by your doctor and easily treated by consuming more B12 in your diet, or through supplementation.
Do not ever change or stop your medications without consulting with your doctor first.
If you are experiencing hair loss, it is possible that you are dealing with male pattern or female pattern hair loss. These conditions are also referred to as androgenetic alopecia and this is the most common cause of hair loss in both genders.
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If you are interested in seeing if a prescription hair loss treatment is a good route for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based telemedicine consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.
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