Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss? – Treatments & Prevention

smoking and hair loss

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    Everybody is well-aware of the fact that smoking has a negative impact on our overall health and leads to various problems such as lung cancer, respiratory problems, oral cancer, etc. Hair loss is another problem which falls in this list. There are many people who often ask whether or not smoking causes hair loss. So it is very important to understand the effects of smoking on hair and how can you counter that?

    Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

    Irrespective of whether there is a direct link or an indirect one between smoking and hair loss, the answer to this question is yes, smoking causes hair loss. There have been various studies conducted over the years which have led to this conclusion. Based on the results of these studies, a direct link between smoking and male baldness was established. There was another study conducted which consisted of more than 600 belonging to both the genders and half of them were smokers. This report in the BMJ Journal also found significant evidences between smoking and hair loss as well as premature greying of hair.

    Whether smoking thins your hair, causes hair fall or leads to hair loss; there is definitely a strong impact of smoking on our hair.

    Why Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

    Though smoking causes hair loss, it might not be the primary reason for your hair loss problems. Nevertheless, there is a connection between smoking and hair loss. Below are some of the reasons why smoking causes hair loss and why smoking is bad for hair –

    • Your hair requires adequate supply of blood in order to remain healthy and strong. It starts becoming weak and ultimately falls off when there is improper circulation in your head and scalp. Smoking is one of the reasons for the lack of sufficient blood circulation. It reduces the circulation of blood to the small blood vessels in your scalp and head.
    • Your hair will grow and remain strong if the pores on your scalp are not clogged. One of the effects of smoking on hair is that it clogs up the pores on the scalp which hinders the proper growth of hair.
    • One most common impact of smoking is liver damage. The liver is responsible for regulating hormones which affect the growth of hair. Smoking results in reducing the functions of the liver which in turn leads to hair problems.
    • People who have undergone transplants can also be affected, as smoking leads to poor growth of the grafts which have been transplanted.
    • The collagen present on your skin is also negatively impacted due to smoking. It depletes the collagen which robs off all the oil from your hair and dehydrates it.
    • Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals which impact your blood and destroy the hair follicle cells.
    • Your immune system becomes weak due to smoking and it results in the opening up of your hair follicles which may be more prone to various fungal and bacterial infections.

    Must Read: What Are The Causes Of Hair Loss In Men And Women?

    Association Between Smoking And Hair Loss

    There are quite a few signs and symptoms which can alert you on the negative impact of smoking on your hair such as –

    • One sign which indicates that you are smoking too much is when your hair starts to smell like smoke.
    • Your hair starts changing its color and it appears yellowish due to the nicotine present in cigarettes.
    • Change in the texture of your hair. It will have a straw-like texture which is brittle.
    • The strands of hair from your hair follicles will appear thinner.
    • Fungal infections which result in inflammation of your scalp.
    • Toxic chemicals and chronic inflammation which leads to scalp thickening.
    • Dry and itchy scalp.
    • Dandruff which is accompanied by gray flakes.
    • Not just yellowish hair, but your scalp might also appear yellowish.
    • Irregular bald patches.

    Treating Hair Loss Caused Due To Smoking

    One of the best ways to avoid loss of hair due to smoking is to get rid of the habit of smoking. You may not find instant results; but it will definitely improve your condition. However, for heavy smokers, apart from quitting cigarettes, they might also require additional help, such as –

    • Minoxidil (Rogaine) – It is a USFDA approved topical treatment which is easily available over-the-counter in the form of creams, shampoos and lotions. Suitable for both men and women, Minoxidil should be massaged on your scalp at least twice in a day in order to promote new hair growth.
    • Finasteride (Propecia) – This is a USFDA approved prescription medication which is available in pill-form and should be used only by men. It helps in preventing testosterone from forming DHT. As DHT is responsible for shortening the growth phase of the hair and increasing the resting period.
    • Hair Transplant Surgery – In this treatment method, hair follicles from the sides and back of the head are transplanted and placed back on the top of the head. For a more natural look, the transplanted hair graft is placed closer to each other.
    • Laser Therapy – There are certain treatments which involve the use of laser devices in order to treat the hair loss problems. These are low-level laser therapy devices wherein a device containing laser panels are shined upon the scalp. Unlike other treatments, this form of laser therapy does not cause any heat or thermal damage.

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    What About PRP Hair Loss Treatment?

    There are various hair restoration treatments available such as the Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy which can successfully help in restoring back the lost hair. Patients own blood is extracted and then put to centrifuge where active platelets are separated from plasma, then this growth factor rich platelet concoction is injected back into areas of scanty hair on the scalp. This provides the necessary protein rich growth ingredients to the hair follicles thus stimulating them further to regrow and restore the lost hair.

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    Does PRP Treatment Work For Heavy Smokers?

    No, PRP treatment will not be successful for heavy smokers as the cigarette’s tar hinders the production of growth factor.

    How To Prevent Hair Loss From Smoking?

    The only way you can prevent hair loss from smoking is to quit the habit of smoking. Completely eliminating the nicotine, and toxic chemicals present in the cigarettes can boost up your immune system and strengthen your hair follicles. It is difficult for a smoker to completely give up this habit, which is why, they should take gradual steps in order to get rid of smoking.

    If in case you have a craving for cigarette, try to replace it with nicotine patches, nicotine gums, inhalers or nasal spray. These are easily available over-the-counter. There can be withdrawal symptoms in the initial stages which is why you need to develop a plan and gradually quit smoking.

    As discussed earlier, though smoking might not be the only reason why you are experiencing hair fall and hair loss problems, it is definitive that smoking causes hair loss and other hair-related problems. Hence, the best way is to just quit smoking which will not only improve the condition of your hair but also your overall health.


    • Will Giving Up Smoking Improve My Hair?
      Yes, you will notice improvement in your hair once you quit smoking. The longer you remain a non-smoker, better the results.
    • Can Smoking Cause Grey Hair?
      Yes, smoking leads to premature greying of hair as it accelerates the process of aging.
    • Will Giving Up Smoking Help Reverse Gray Hair?
      It may not reverse the existing grey hair; however, it will definitely stop further premature greying of your hair.

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    About The Author

    Kushneet Kukreja

    Kushneet Kukreja

    A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.

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