Beautiful hair isn’t just the result of proper care and everyday washing – it’s the result of taking care of your body for years. A diet that provides the vitamins and minerals your body and hair needs (like zinc, iron, vitamin D, and protein) will ensure it’s always in good shape.
However, if you’re regularly lighting a ciggie, chances are your hair is in poor shape and smells terrible due to cigarette smoke. It might look full now, but later on, you might experience premature hair loss.
Research has shown that smokers are highly likely to experience hair loss earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.
While genetic factors, age, and overall health determine how soon you might experience hair loss, the chemicals in cigarette smoke can greatly accelerate this process.
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It’s truly troubling to lose hair and experience the many other preventable problems smoking can cause your health. In this post, we’ll learn more about how smoking can cause hair loss in both men and women.
Reduced Blood Circulation
Like every organ and part of your body, the hair receives the vitamins and nutrients it needs to grow from your blood. If your blood can’t circulate properly, you might experience hair loss early.
The circulatory system must be in good health to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles.
Unfortunately for regular smokers, a large amount of nicotine in cigarettes will constrict blood vessels, restricting the amount of oxygen and vital nutrients that reach the hair follicles.
Combined with carbon monoxide reducing the oxygen in the body, the diminished supply can weaken the hair follicles, making your hair more prone to breakage and thinning over time.
Disruption of Hormonal Balance
Hormones aren’t just related to adolescence and sexual potency – they play a huge role in continuously developing and improving the body, especially when it’s well-nourished.
As you might expect, the chemicals in cigarette smoke create hormonal imbalances, which lead to delaying women’s periods, adverse effects on your libido, and enormous fluctuations in testosterone production.
Hormonal imbalances also affect your hair follicles. Cortisol and estrogen in both men and women are hormones that directly affect your hair.
Elevated cortisol levels, often associated with chronic stress, contributes to hair loss. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can significantly stress out a regular smoker – the opposite of what feels like ‘relaxing’ for most people who light a stick.
The ensuing increase in cortisol production then negatively impacts hair follicles.
Oxidative Stress and DNA Damage
You’ve probably heard the term “free radicals,” which cause oxidative stress on the body.
If your body has a high level of oxidative stress, it can damage your DNA, directly affecting your hair growth, along with causing other chronic issues, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and others.
Chemicals in cigarette smoke expose the body to a barrage of free radicals, leading to high levels of oxidative stress. Unfortunately, the hair follicle is highly susceptible to oxidative damage.
As soon as oxidative stress surpasses the body’s natural defence mechanisms, it will cause irreparable damage to the hair follicles and cause the gradual deterioration of hair quality.
Weakened Immune Response
Will smoking cause hair loss? Indeed, it can – its adverse effects on your immune system will compromise the growth of your hair follicles.
If your body dedicates all resources to fighting infections and diseases, it may not leave enough nourishment for your hair follicles.
Smoking is known to compromise the body’s immune response. This weakened immunity can indirectly contribute to hair loss by making hair follicles more vulnerable to damage from environmental factors and infections your body can’t fight off.
If your scalp gets infected, your hair follicles are in grave danger. Aside from leading to inflammation and subsequent hair loss, it might even cause serious dangers due to your body’s weak immune system and ability to recover.
Do you want to look your age or even younger?
Cigarette smoking is a primary factor in causing premature ageing. It can cause your skin to sag and look older than it should.
The breakdown of collagen and elastin (which also help the skin look young) also affects your scalp. These two essential proteins also form the physical framework of your hair follicles.
You can guess that hair loss happens right away due to poor collagen and elastin production due to cigarette smoke.
The Dangerous Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke
Cigarette smoke is a toxic cocktail of over 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known carcinogens.
Nicotine, while relatively harmless by itself, is highly addictive and is also a vasoconstrictor that reduces blood flow to the hair follicles when ingested at high levels.
Aside from carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are carcinogenic compounds present in cigarette smoke and have been linked to DNA damage and mutations. More importantly, they affect your hair growth by causing oxidative damage to your follicles and DNA.
Now that you know all of these, keeping your hair in good shape only requires one thing: quitting smoking for good.
How to Stop Smoking Today
We hope that if you’ve read this far you want to stop smoking. It doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow these steps below.
Go Through First-Line Solutions First
Some motivated smokers can handle cold turkey just fine and see success within a few tries, but oftentimes, smokers have strong withdrawals that can draw them back to lighting a stick.
That’s where nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products come in. These are readily available and stocked at your local pharmacy.
NRT products are the most trusted quitting option available for motivated smokers. They might not imitate cigarettes, but they contain a small dose of nicotine that may be enough to alleviate your withdrawals. These come in the form of patches and gums for easy and convenient nicotine delivery.
While NRTs can be effective, they don’t work for everyone. If these haven’t done the trick for you, you may now be eligible for a nicotine prescription to use nicotine vaping products (NVPs).
Chat to a GP
As mentioned, NRT products have worked for many successful ex-smokers. But, you might have ingrained behaviours and triggers that only something that mimics a cigarette can successfully address, such as the hand-to-mouth motion, and needing something to use while having a drink with friends.
That is where NVPs become very handy in helping you fight the urge to consume tobacco.
You need a nicotine prescription before you can purchase NVPs, so you’ll need to consult with a GP to help you on your smoking cessation journey.
And, if your GP deems it necessary, they can write you a nicotine prescription for NVPs.
You can chat to your usual GP more about this.
Visit Your Local Pharmacy
Once you have your nicotine prescription, you can pop down to your local pharmacy. Over 2,200 pharmacies across Australia hold these products in-store, but any pharmacy can order these in for you if they don’t currently stock them.
Both your pharmacist and GP can advise you on how best to use the product, such as the initial setup, and the number of puffs to take when you feel withdrawals.
Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss: It Definitely Does
Smoking is a major cause of many preventable diseases and chronic issues, including greying or losing hair prematurely. By stopping smoking, you can help your body maintain its equilibrium, reduce oxidative stress, and give you a mane that will look glorious for years to come.
If you have any trouble stopping smoking, we can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.