Smoking is linked to multiple life-threatening conditions, like cardiovascular issues. But there is a chance that you may be unaware of its lesser-known side effects. Hair loss is one such side effect.
Some studies link hair loss to smoking. Plus, factors, such as a family history of baldness, can significantly amplify the risk for a smoker. This article explores the relation between smoking and hair loss and what you can do to prevent it. Scroll down for more information.
Table Of Contents
Studies are limited regarding the effects of smoking on hair loss. However, a few studies found some possible connections between the two. Here is how smoking may trigger hair loss:
1. It May Cause DNA Damage
Animal studies have found that tobacco contains genotoxic components that can damage the hair follicle’s DNA (1). This can trigger hair loss. However, this study is not conclusive and needs further research.
2. It May Cause Heavy Metal Toxicity
Smoking may cause cadmium toxicity and interrupt the hair cycle. Cadmium can cause oxidative stress to the hair and trigger hair loss. It may also disrupt the formation of the hair shaft and cause telogen effluvium (2).
3. It May Aggravate Alopecia
Although smoking and alopecia’s link needs further research, a study found that smoking status and intensity were among the key factors responsible for aggravating androgenic alopecia and considered potential risk factors (3). However, further studies are needed to establish an association.
This explains the question “How does smoking cause hair loss?” However, other than smoking, several other factors may also trigger hair loss.
Other Factors Triggering Hair Loss
Smoking, along with other underlying factors, may contribute to hair loss. They include:
- Psychological stress (4)
- Pregnancy (5)
- Hormonal imbalances (thyroid issues) (6)
- Nutritional deficiencies (7)
If you smoke and are experiencing hair loss, these factors too might be contributing. Often, smoking, along with some underlying factors, may trigger hair loss. Consult a doctor to find out the exact reason behind your hair loss. Meanwhile, you may quit smoking and try to improve your hair health.
Can My Hair Grow Back If I Quit Smoking?
It depends on a lot of factors.
If you quit smoking, your hair fall may improve as your hair and body will not be exposed to the toxins released by tobacco. It may also improve your overall health. However, if an underlying condition is responsible for your hair loss, it may not improve unless you treat it.
Hence, it is better to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis. Let us explore the possible treatments to repair the hair damage caused by smoking in the next section.
Possible Hair Loss Treatments For Smokers And Ex-Smokers
- Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT):
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a popular method for stimulating hair growth. This non-invasive treatment is performed under the supervision of a doctor and has no side effects. However, the long-term consequences of LLLT still need more empirical backing (8).
- Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant surgery has become a highly sought-after way of achieving a natural appearance. However, the doctor needs to evaluate your scalp and determine whether you are a good candidate for a hair transplant or not. Consult a dermatologist for a detailed analysis.
- Prescription Medications
Your doctor may prescribe medications like topical minoxidil and finasteride or a combined dose of both for treating hair loss. These medications block DHT (a type of androgen) that triggers hair loss (9).
These are some treatment options you may try to manage hair loss. However, if you are considering hair transplant surgery and wondering if you can restart smoking after that, here is what you need to keep in mind.
How Soon Can I Restart Smoking After A Hair Transplant Surgery?
Wait for at least two weeks before you start smoking.
Hair transplant surgeries can yield a high success rate, provided you adhere to certain precautions. As smoking can expose your body to an influx of toxins, give your scalp some time to heal. Otherwise, you may be more susceptible to infections on the open wound. Besides, it may lead to scar tissue formation.
Though there is no conclusive evidence, studies hint at the possible connection between smoking and hair loss. While we cannot deny tobacco smoking risks, including DNA and cell damage, cardiovascular risks, and reduced blood flow, your hair follicles are no exception to this damage. However, you should also consider other factors that may trigger hair loss. If you are a smoker and have recently noticed excessive hair loss, consult a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Is there a link between smoking and male pattern baldness?
How do I tell if I am experiencing pattern baldness?
In pattern baldness, hair thinning starts at the temple and crown.
- Induction of alopecia in mice exposed to cigarette smoke
- Possible Relationship between Chronic Telogen Effluvium and Changes in Lead, Cadmium, Zinc, and Iron Total Blood Levels in Females: A Case-Control Study
- Association of androgenetic alopecia with smoking and its prevalence among Asian men: a community-based survey
- Hair and stress: A pilot study of hair and cytokine balance alteration in healthy young women under major exam stress
- Telogen effluvium: a comprehensive review
- Telogen Effluvium: A Review
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- A Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Low-Level Laser Therapy in the Treatment of Hair Loss
- Topical minoxidil fortified with finasteride: An account of maintenance of hair density after replacing oral finasteride
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