Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

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.

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. 

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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
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 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

    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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    Dr. Jaspreet Sarna, M.D


    Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) with a decade-long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.


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