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Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?


There is no doubt that smoking does have adverse effects on your hair. If you are a regular smoker and you begin to experience hair loss, there could be a connection between the two. So, does smoking cause hair fall? Apart, from the harm caused to your lungs, smoking could also cause damage to your hair which could result in hair thinning or loss later. Let’s find out more about the connection between smoking and hair loss.

How Smoking Causes Hair Loss

Smoking contributes to hair loss through multiple mechanisms. The toxins in cigarette smoke damage the hair follicles and disrupt their normal functioning, leading to weakened and thinning hair. Chain Smoking also reduces blood circulation, including to the scalp, which deprives hair follicles of vital nutrients and oxygen, hindering their growth and causing hair loss. Additionally, smoking increases oxidative stress in the body, which can further contribute to hair damage and accelerated hair loss.

What are the Effects of Smoking on Your Hair?

Hair fall could happen due to a number of factors like hormones, genetics and hair loss due to stress and they could also be triggered by unhealthy habits such as smoking. Smoking affects the very DNA of the air follicles and makes them weak and unable to regenerate. But can smoking cause hair loss? Let’s find out. 

1 - Blood Circulation 

The unhindered blood circulation is necessary for the smooth functioning of the body and smoking releases toxic chemicals like nicotine which lessens the seamless flow of blood. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels and this leads to a reduced flow of blood to the hair follicles. This also results in a decrease in the nutrients received by the follicles such as minerals, vitamins and oxygen, thus impacting hair growth. In the long run this could also lead to serious hair loss. 

2 - Weakened Immunity 

Smoking affects the endocrine system which impacts its ability to produce healthy good hormones. It also leads to reduced vitamin A and C levels which are essential for the production of collagen. The decrease of collagen robs the hair of oils and dehydrates it. So does smoking cause hair loss? yes it does.

3 - Polluting Effects

Passive smoking can also harm your hair to quite an extent. The toxic elements released while smoking, deposit themselves on the hair shaft and damage the strands. It also leads to the build-up of impurities in the scalp and makes your hair greasy

4 - Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body's ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. It is a natural process that occurs in the body, but it can be increased by external factors such as smoking, pollution, and UV radiation. Smoking is a major cause of oxidative stress in the body. Cigarette smoke contains a high concentration of free radicals, which can damage cells and tissues throughout the body, including the hair follicles. This damage can lead to inflammation and reduce blood flow to the hair follicles, which can eventually lead to hair loss.

    Effects of Smoking on Your Hair

      Smoking also leads to a collection of plaque around the arteries causing a condition called atherosclerosis. The further hardening of the plaque can result in the narrowing of the arteries. This creates an interruption in the flow of essential nutrients and oxygen to the hair thereby impacting the development of hair follicles.

      Alopecia areata, is one of the common reasons of hair loss and is essentially an autoimmune disease related to smoking tobacco. Therefore – does smoking cause hair loss? Yes.

      Smoking also creates a lot of oxidative stress in the hair. This may lead to lipid peroxidation, a condition when the free radicals in the body destroy the lipids and cause the death of hair cells. Once again – does smoking cause hair loss? Yes, is the answer again.  

      Smoking can also lead to Grave’s hypothyroidism. This happens when the thyroid gland releases surplus levels of the thyroid hormone and this also causes hair loss. 

      Excess smoking also leads to a radical jump in cortisol levels. This will retard the growth of compounds like hyaluronan and proteoglycan which are very essential for the development of hair follicles. This can result in telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia which are conditions of stress-related hair loss. All these facts provide a conclusive answer to the question, does smoking cause hair loss?

      Also Read : Hair Loss Due to Stress

      Does Vaping Cause Hair Loss?

      While research specifically linking vaping to hair loss is limited, vaping can potentially have negative effects on hair health. Vaping involves inhaling chemicals that may have detrimental impacts on overall health, including oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage hair follicles and contribute to hair loss. Moreover, nicotine, present in many vaping products, can constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the scalp, leading to weakened hair follicles and compromised hair growth. Vaping also leads to high temperature of smoke, which may damage hair follicles as well. A study in UNiversity of Southern California found that men and women who indulged in vaping have high levels of Follicles-Stimulating Hormone.

      Does Smoking Cause Baldness?

      Studies have indicated that more smoking could lead to premature greying and hair loss and probably also be responsible for a receding hairline in men. It has also been found that if the problem becomes more serious then baldness could be one of the possible outcomes. Smoking affects the DNA and this affects the hair follicles apart from all the other parts of the body. The hair loss could be because of the inflammatory cytokines which lead to scarring of the hair follicles. Again, does smoking cause hair loss? Yes, it does.

      Is Hair Loss Due to Smoking Reversible?

      When you stop smoking it has an immediate effect on all parameters of body health as the body rejuvenates itself. So, it might be possible to bring your body back to its pre-smoking fitness days. The natural growth cycle will be restored and this will help promote more hair growth. In women, smoking reduces the oestrogen levels resulting in thinning hair. Quitting smoking will result in thicker and stronger hair. 

      How To Prevent Hair Loss Due to Smoking?

      There are a number of medications available which can help prevent hair loss due to smoking. But of course, it should start with the individual quitting smoking and then the medication can take effect. There is no ambivalence to the question - does smoking cause hair loss? Let’s get to know more about how you can prevent the same. 

      Minoxidil: This is a very potent vasodilator i.e., it dilates the blood vessels and this facilitates increased blood flow in the scalp which leads to hair growth. This is done by pushing the hair which is in the resting phase into the growth phase. 

      Finasteride: Finasteride helps better hair growth by preventing the testosterone from being broken down into DHT. This is an oral drug and its regular use could lead to good hair growth. 

      Corticosteroids: These are steroid hormones and have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. They are essentially used to prevent hair loss but the more powerful ones can also be used in accelerating hair regrowth. 

      Also Read : Finasteride For Hair Loss

      Strategies To Quit Smoking 

      • Set a Quit Date: Choose a specific date to stop smoking and stick to it. This can help provide a clear goal and timeline for quitting smoking. It's important to choose a realistic date and prepare for it by planning ahead, such as getting rid of cigarettes, cleaning the house, and avoiding trigger situations.
      • Nicotine replacement therapy: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) involves using products such as nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges to help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking. It is a safe and effective way to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes.
      • Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups for encouragement. Having a support system can provide motivation, accountability, and emotional support during the quitting process. Consider joining a smoking cessation program or seeking professional help if needed. Joining a support group or online community can provide a supportive environment where you can share your struggles and successes with others who are also trying to quit smoking.
      • Identify Triggers and Plan Alternatives: Find healthy alternatives to smoking in trigger situations. Triggers can include stress, boredom, or social situations. Plan ahead by finding alternative activities or coping mechanisms, such as exercise, deep breathing, or chewing gum. Stay away from smokers and environments that tempt you to smoke. This can include avoiding social situations where smoking is prevalent, or finding new social activities that do not involve smoking.
      • Replace Smoking with Healthy Habits: Incorporate exercise, balanced diet, and stress management techniques. Engaging in healthy habits can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, improve overall health, and provide a positive outlet for stress and anxiety. Engaging in regular exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for smoking. It can also help improve overall health and wellbeing.
      • Prescription Medications: Consult with a doctor for medications that aid in smoking cessation. Certain medications, such as bupropion and varenicline, can help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
      • Practice Stress Management: Develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Stress can be a major trigger for smoking, so finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or therapy, can help reduce the likelihood of smoking.
      • Stay Positive and Persistent: Celebrate milestones and learn from any setbacks. Quitting smoking is a journey, and it's important to celebrate each milestone, no matter how small. If setbacks occur, use them as a learning opportunity and continue forward with a positive attitude.
      • Cold turkey challenge: Challenge yourself to quit smoking cold turkey for a certain period, such as a week or a month. This can help you build confidence in your ability to quit and develop new habits.
      • Art therapy: Engaging in creative activities such as drawing, painting, or writing can help reduce stress and provide a healthy outlet for emotions, which can help reduce cravings and triggers associated with smoking.
      • Reward Yourself:  Set up a reward system for yourself for each day or week that you go without smoking. This can help motivate you to stay smoke-free and provide a sense of accomplishment. Rewards can provide motivation and a sense of accomplishment for staying smoke-free. Consider treating yourself to a new hobby, a special meal, or a fun activity.

      Can Quitting Smoking Lead to Hair Growth?

      All the reports are quite positive on this count. If it is proved that smoking causes hair loss, then on quitting all the toxicities from the body are gradually removed and so hair fall caused due to smoking can be reversed and treated. The abnormalities that smoking introduces in the way the body functions are corrected and the body slowly but surely heals its way back to normalcy. So probably the trick is to find out how to quit smoking.

      So, does smoking cause hair loss? The answer is a resounding Yes! But remember, while quitting smoking may or may not lead to hair regrowth, it could definitely go a long way in helping hair fall treatment. The use of hair growth remedies should ideally be done under medical supervision. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of each remedy and you will have to figure out what works best for you. Do visit us at Traya and our experts will be able to guide you on your way to terrific tresses.

      For methods on how you can quit smoking read here.


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