does smoking cause hair loss
By Tamim Hamid Last Updated on 06/28/2024

Does Smoking or Nicotine Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss is a common problem that many people face. As we age, it is normal to lose some hair. However, some habits may cause more hair loss than normal. One habit that may lead to extra hair loss is smoking cigarettes. But how does smoking cause hair loss? 

Smoking is, without a doubt, one of the causes of hair loss. When you smoke, the chemicals in the smoke can damage your hair follicles. Hair follicles are under your skin and responsible for new hair growth. When the follicles get damaged, new hairs cannot grow as well, making your hair thinner over time. The smoke also reduces blood flow to your scalp. With less blood flow, the follicles get fewer nutrients. In this blog, we'll explore the link between smoking and hair loss in detail and how you can reverse nicotine hair loss.

Relation Between Smoking and Hair Loss

Smoking and hair loss are connected in a few key ways. According to 2020 research, Nicotine might be the cause of progressing Androgenetic Alopecia in both males and females. Cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals. Many of these substances damage your hair follicles. Hair follicles are the structures under your skin that grow new hairs. When follicles get damaged, they cannot correctly produce new hairs, leading to thinning and hair loss.

Also, Nicotine causes blood vessels to shrink, which reduces blood flow to your scalp. With less blood flow, hair follicles don't acquire enough oxygen and nutrients for healthy hair growth. Nicotine also increases inflammation. Inflammation can weaken hair follicles. The toxins and lack of blood flow from smoking combine to damage follicles progressively. This gradual process might result in permanent hair loss in smokers.

How Does Smoking Contribute to Hair Loss?

The effects of smoking on hair loss can be gradual and growing over time. Here's how smoking cigarettes affects your hair growth in several ways:

1. Decreased Blood Flow

One of the main reasons smoking contributes to hair loss is through decreased blood flow. When you smoke, the harmful chemicals in cigarettes cause the blood vessels to compress, which means they become narrower and restrict the flow of blood to the hair follicles. With reduced blood flow, the hair follicles do not receive enough nutrients and oxygen to support healthy hair growth. Over time, this leads to weakened follicles, hair thinning, and hair loss. So, smoking can have a direct impact on the health of your hair by reducing the blood circulation needed for its nourishment and growth.

2. Nutritional deficiencies

Another reason why smoking contributes to hair loss is nutritional deficiencies. When you smoke, the toxins in cigarettes interfere with the absorption and utilization of essential vitamins and minerals that are crucial for maintaining healthy hair. As a result, the hair follicles do not receive an adequate supply of these nutrients, hampering their growth and weakening hair strands. Gradually, this deficiency can contribute to hair thinning and eventual hair loss.

3. Oxidative Stress

The chemicals in cigarettes generate oxidative stress in the body, which can damage the cells, including those in the hair follicles. This damage disrupts the normal hair growth cycle and can lead to increased hair shedding. Over time, the effects of oxidative stress can contribute to hair thinning and loss. So, smoking not only affects your lungs and overall health but also contributes to hair loss and thinning.

4. Inflammation

Smoking cigarettes causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the body's response to harm, like an injury or infection. The chemicals in cigarette smoke trigger an inflammatory response, even without an injury. This inflammation happens all over the body, including the scalp. The scalp inflammation can damage hair follicles, which are the structures under the scalp that grow new hairs. When follicles get inflamed for a long time, they start to shrink and stop working well. Hence, inflammation can be one way that smoking causes more hair loss.

5. Premature Graying

Did you know that smoking can even contribute to premature graying, which in turn can lead to hair loss? When you smoke, the toxins in cigarettes can damage the cells responsible for producing hair pigment, called melanocytes. This damage can result in the premature loss of hair color, causing gray or white hair to appear earlier than usual. Premature graying can often lead to weakened hair follicles, making the hair more prone to breakage and thinning.

Is Nicotine Hair Loss Reversible?

is nicotine hair loss reversible

The good news is that, in many cases, nicotine-related hair loss can be reversible. When you quit smoking and remove nicotine from your system, it allows your body to heal and restore its natural balance. As a result, blood circulation improves, supplying essential nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles. This improved blood flow can revitalize the weakened follicles and promote healthier hair growth.

However, it's important to note that reversing smoking-related hair loss may vary for each individual. Factors such as the severity of hair loss, duration of smoking, overall health, and genetic factors can influence the speed and effectiveness of hair regrowth. Also, be patient because visible hair thickness and density improvements may take several months to become noticeable.

How to Reverse Smoking-Related Hair Loss

There are some natural ways to reverse smoking-related hair loss. While smoking can harm hair health, taking the below steps can help restore and promote hair growth:

Quit smoking

The most important way to reverse nicotine hair loss is by quitting smoking altogether. When you stop smoking, your blood vessels can open back up to normal size. This lets proper blood flow return to the scalp and hair follicles. More blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients that hair follicles need to grow healthy hair again. Quitting smoking gives your hair a better chance to recover and promotes restoring its natural health. Quitting smoking is just healthier for your body and overall health.

Adopt a Balanced Diet

Eating balanced meals can help your hair recover from smoking damage. A balanced diet has all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients hair needs to grow strong. For example, get enough protein from fish, eggs, and chicken. Eat fruits and leafy greens loaded with vitamin C and iron. Foods with vitamin B help carry nutrients to hair follicles. Zinc and biotin also prevent hair loss. When smoking, your follicles do not get enough of these nutrients. So, feeding your body balanced meals gives your follicles the building blocks.

Practice Good Hair Care

Use gentle hair care products and avoid harsh chemicals and excessive heat styling. Treat your hair with care to minimize damage and breakage. Reducing additional chemical and heat damage allows your hair to focus its energy on regrowing after quitting smoking.

Manage Stress

Stress, especially chronic stress, can contribute to hair loss and negatively impact the health of your hair follicles. By finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy, you can reduce the harmful effects of stress on your hair. Taking time for self-care and prioritizing activities that help you relax and unwind can promote a healthier environment for hair growth.

Low-level Laser Therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a method that can help reverse smoking-related hair loss. One device that utilizes a specific type of LLLT for laser phototherapy (LPT) is the Theardome laser hair growth helmet. Theradome is a simple and convenient device that emits laser light to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth. By wearing Theradome regularly, the laser light penetrates the scalp, increasing blood flow to the hair follicles and encouraging cell activity. This stimulation can help to reverse smoking-related hair loss by promoting the growth of healthier and stronger hair.

Conclusion

Smoking can indeed cause hair loss due to various factors such as damage to hair follicles, reduced blood flow, nutritional deficiencies, oxidative stress, inflammation, and premature graying. The good news is that smoking-related hair loss can often be reversed. Quitting smoking is the most important step, as it improves blood circulation and provides essential nutrients to the hair follicles. Adopting a balanced diet, practicing good hair care, and managing stress are crucial in promoting hair regrowth. 

Additionally, laser phototherapy, such as Theradome, can stimulate hair follicles and encourage healthier hair growth. While reversing nicotine-related hair loss may vary for each individual, patience and consistency in implementing these measures can lead to positive results over time.

FAQs

Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, smoking can contribute to hair loss. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage hair follicles, reduce blood flow to the scalp, interfere with nutrient absorption, cause oxidative stress, and trigger inflammation.

Can smoking cause hair thinning?

Yes, smoking can contribute to hair thinning and loss. The chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the hair follicles and restrict blood flow, inhibiting hair growth.

Will my hair grow back if I quit smoking?

Quitting smoking can improve the chances of hair regrowth. Quitting smoking allows your body to heal, improves blood circulation, and provides essential nutrients to the hair follicles, which can revitalize them and promote healthier hair growth.

What does nicotine do to your hair?

Nicotine can have damaging effects on your hair. It can reduce blood flow to the scalp, decreasing oxygen and nutrient supply to the hair follicles.

Are there any other ways to reverse smoking-related hair loss?

Along with quitting smoking, adopting a balanced diet, managing stress, and considering low-level laser therapy can help reverse smoking-related hair loss.

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Tamim Hamid

Tamim Hamid

Inventor and CEO of Theradome

Sayyid Tamim Hamid, Ph.D, is the inventor of the world’s first FDA-cleared, wearable phototherapy device to prevent hair loss and thicken and regrow hair. Tamim, a former biomedical engineer at NASA and the inventor of Theradome, brings with him more than 38 years of expertise in product development, laser technology, and biomedical science. Tamim used his laser knowledge, fine-tuned at NASA, and combined it with his driving passion for helping others pursue a lifelong mission in hair loss and restoration. He is now one of the world’s leading experts.